The U.S. under-19 national team took one step closer to the first-ever FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships, defeating the future hosts, 1-0, on a second half goal from Mary Boland (Hudson, Ohio/Internationals) in the pre-game to the USA vs. Canada full national team clash.
The U.S. U-19s will need to qualify for the historic youth tournament to be held in Canada in 2002, but showed the Canadian U-19 squad that it will not be hospitable guests, pinning the Canucks in their own half for most of the game while piling up a 12-2 advantage in shots.
The U.S. forwards stretched the Canadian flat back four all match, and that's how the U.S. got its goal, coming just two minutes into the second half. Boland, who had been in the game just two minutes after coming on at halftime, ran onto a long pass from Allison Graham (Fayetteville, Ga./Lightning '84 White) and raced in on a breakaway in the right side of the penalty area. Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod got a hand on the ball, but couldn't keep it out of the net and it rolled over the goal line.
Forward Kelly Wilson (Odessa, Tex./Dallas Sting) was the USA's most dangerous player in the first half, getting behind the defense on several occasions. In just the second minute, she won a ball from McLeod about 30 yards from the net, but with an open goal and defenders scrambling back, hit her shot wide from distance.
The Americans controlled the pace and flow of the match with the only real Canadian danger coming from several Candace Chapman solo runs. Second half subs Megan Kakadelas (Carlsbad, Calif./San Diego Surf) and Boland caused major problems on flanks for Canada as both created good chances in the final 45 minutes.
The Americans did survive a scary moment in the 55th minute when Amy Vermuelen challenged U.S. goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris (Satellite Beach, Fla./Seminole Ice) on a bouncing ball and won it, only to see her shot cleared off the line by Amy Steadman (Brevard, N.C/Greensboro Twisters).
Canada played the U.S. step-for-step on grit and aggressiveness, but could not match the attacking flare or speed of the American team as the USA notched a much-deserved win. The USA lost Stephanie Ebner (Taylorsville, Utah/Utah FC) in 81st minute after a high-speed collision with Chapman. Keeley Dowling (Carmel, Ind./Carmel Cosmos) and Steadman were superb in the center of the U.S. defense, helping Harris pick up the shutout. The two teams will play again on Monday in Scarborough, Canada.
"These games are instrumental as we prepare to qualify for the world championships," said U.S. coach Tracey Leone. "Any kind of international competition is a huge bonus and to play a quality team like Canada is even better. We have to quality first, but it's inspiring to play where the world championships are going to be held. They faced a team with a difficult style, on foreign soil in front of a great crowd. You just can't simulate what these kinds of games bring and it's a great experience for our youngsters."
June 30 in Toronto, Canada
CANADA U-19S 0 UNITED STATES U-19S 1
USA - Mary Boland (Alison Graham) 47.
CANADA -- 1-Erin McLeod, 8-Sasha Andrews, 2-Heather Smith, 5-Katie Arnott, 6-Lisa Backman, 3-Melanie Booth, 13-Carla Dolomont (4-Kara Lang, 68), 11-Sarah Kozey, 9-Carmelina Moscato (10-Erin McCallum, 43), 12-Amy Vermuelen, 7-Candace Chapman.
CAUTIONS: Erin McCallum 74; EJECTIONS: None.
USA -- 18-Ashlyn Harris, 3-Jessica Ballweg (10-Stephanie Ebner, 46, Leslie Osborne, 82), 11-Keeley Dowling, 6-Amy Steadman, 14-Sara Randolph (2-Haley Hunt, 46), 5-Jill Oaks, 13-Alison Graham, 7-Lori Chalupny, 12-Lindsay Tarpley - Capt., 20-Kristin Weiss (15-Mary Boland, 46), 16-Kelly Wilson (17-Megan Kakadelas, 58).
CAUTIONS: None; EJECTIONS: None.
Referee: Jill Fedirchuk (CAN).
Weather: Hot, muggy - 80 degrees.
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