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March 8, 2013
U.S.U23 WNT wins Four Nations tournament

The U.S. Under-23 Women’s National Team swept the competition at the Four Nations Tournament in La Manga, Spain, finishing off a highly successful competition with a 2-1 victory against England that sealed the tournament title.

The USA had previously defeated Norway, 3-1, and Sweden 6-0, and got a winning goal against England from forward Stephanie Ochs in the 71st minute. Ochs, who had two assist against Sweden and a goal and an assist against Norway, was named tournament MVP. She was the first pick in the NWSL Supplemental Draft by the Washington Spirit.

“Throughout the week, over all three games, we got better and better,” said U.S. heads coach Randy Waldrum. “Our game plan against England today worked very well and defensively as we minimized their opportunities. I am proud of the team and proud of how quickly they came together for this tournament and got three great results.”

The game-winner against the English came after University of Illinois midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo won a ball in the midfield and played it wide to Camille Levin, who played a one-touch pass to Ochs down the right wing. Ochs beat her defender down the line, cut back towards goal and nutmegged the goalkeeper to give the USA the victory.

The USA had opened the scoring in the 28th minute as Santa Clara University’s Julie Johnston got her second goal of the tournament. This one came off a corner kick from DiBernardo, who found Johnston on a cross and she re-directed it into the net from closer range.

England had tied the match on a goal from Kerys Harrop just before halftime.

Texas goalkeeper Abby Smith went the distance in goal for the USA for the second straight match.

The U.S. opened the tournament with a convincing 3-1 win over Norway.

The USA went ahead 1-0 in the 16th minute when two future Washington Spirit teammates combined on a goal. Stephanie Ochs, the top pick in the NWSL Supplemental Draft by the Spirit, provided the service after she ran down a ball on the left wing. She crossed it into the middle of the six-yard box for former Florida State star Tiffany McCarty to stroke into the net just inside the near post. McCarty was the second overall pick by the Spirit in the NWSL College Draft.

The USA made it 2-0 in the 33rd minute when another former Seminole, defender Toni Pressley, tallied during a scramble after a corner kick. The service bounced out to yet another former Seminole, Casey Short, at top of box and she lobbed it back into the penalty area. Defender Julie Johnston challenged for the ball with the goalkeeper and the ball popped out to Pressley who side-footed it home. Pressley is currently playing professionally in Russia.

Ochs got a goal of her own in the 51st minute that originated off a cross from Cami Levin, a former Stanford star who is playing for Göteborg FC in Sweden. The ball bounced out to Ochs who finished well from the near penalty kick spot.
Norway pulled a goal back through Andrine Hegerberg in the 62nd minute off a shot from distance, but the Americans had the game well in hand, out-shooting their Scandinavian counterparts, 12-6 for the match.

The Americans followed that up with a stunning 6-0 win over Sweden. It was the biggest margin of victory for the U.S. U-23s in an international match since 2009.

Santa Clara forward Morgan Marlborough scored the first of her two goals in just the second minute while Julie Johnston, Zakiya Bywaters, Samantha Mewis and Colleen Williams added single goals.

The U.S. roster featured eight players from the U.S. team that won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan, including Johnston, who captained the side and won the Bronze Ball as the third-best player in the.

Five players on the roster are currently on preliminary rosters for NWSL clubs and will seen be heading to pre-season training camps.

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