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Postgame from Shenyang
August 12th, 2008 3:45PM

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[REACTION] U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said her team has come a long way from the disastrous first 15 minutes of the opening game against Norway. After struggling to beat Japan, the 4-0 win over New Zealand boosted the Americans' confidence heading into the knockout round.

U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage

On winning the group after losing the first game:
"I think it's fantastic that fact that we bounced back from the first 15 minutes against Norway. You look at the first 15 minutes of that game to the last 15 minutes of this game and many things have happened. The whole team, and myself, has gained confidence every minute we've been together. The good part of this road is that we have experience both sides. Losing and winning, and that's good going into the quarterfinals where it's now or never."

On her goals for the New Zealand game:
"First, we started off talking about winning. Second, we wanted to find a great winning feeling and try to score goals, and that means more than one. But I didn't have to do that much because of the way Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd dictated the tempo and the positive attacking style. I just encouraged them to keep the ball and find the rhythm and the scores will come, which they did."

On getting the first-minute goal:
"We gained so much confidence, but you need to find the rhythm at the beginning of the game and of course it's easier if you are 1-0 up rather than 1-0 down."

On drawing Canada in the quarterfinal instead of Brazil:
"The thing is, whoever we play against, we know we have to bring the best out of each other. The good part of this is that (all the matches so far in the Olympics) are different kinds of games. If we play against Brazil, we prepare for Brazil, but now we play against Canada and it's a different preparation. That's the fun part of being a coach, because you never know. I wouldn't put it as easier or harder. It is different. I respect every team in this tournament. It would be arrogant for me to say one team is harder than another. The Canada match will be very hard, but still it is a challenging and a fun game."

U.S. midfielder Heather O'Reilly

On her goal 40 seconds into the game:
"I'm obviously thrilled to get that goal and get it so early. In soccer, you say you want to score early and often and that's what we did today, so I'm pretty happy about it. It was just on instinct. I got the ball about 40 yards out and took a touch and just went for it. Usually, I wouldn't take an outside shot, but the 'keeper was off her line and I just hit it. Good things happen when you take chances."

On the match:
"We're thrilled. We're really proud of each other. To go first in our group, that's where we want to be."

On looking back at the three group games:
"We really stayed level headed up to this point so we need to continue to do so. That's obviously the trick, to stay even-keeled and focused during the entire tournament no matter what happens."

On the match:
"For us to get four goals is something that we are very happy about. So, we're going to take as a positive, but we still have our best soccer ahead of us but we are very happy about the result."

U.S. forward Amy Rodriguez:

On the match:
"Today was a special moment for our team. Scoring four goals was a great feeling and getting my first Olympic goal was exciting. I'm so proud of the team and how we performed out there."

On Heather O'Reilly's first-minute goal:
"Going up that early in the game was an awesome spark for us. Heather scored a great goal and we were all so happy for her. It definitely lifted our team up at that moment. It also was a calming effect."

U.S. defender Lori Chalupny

On winning the group after losing the first game:
"I think it says a lot about the character of the players on this team. Throughout a tournament, you want to just keep getting better each game so I think it was important for us to accomplish that today. Just a really exciting win and we're excited to move on."

On facing Canada in the quarterfinals:
"It's going to be a battle. We've played them so many times. We have a good feeling for them and familiarity with them, but it's always a battle. The last couple of games have been one-goal games, so we'll be prepared and excited for that game."

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd

On winning the group after losing the first game:
"I think it's tremendous. Like Pia has said and stressed so much, the more minutes we play together the better it's going to get ... I know some people were skeptical about our win over Japan, but I think we've proven ourselves in a 4-0 game. There was some fabulous soccer. It was fun to play out there and we're getting the job done, even though we don't have Abby, who has been an important part of this team. We're just going to keep growing."

On Heather O'Reilly's first-minute goal:
"Anytime you score that early in a game, it makes the other team question themselves and gives us more confidence. It was a great strike from Heather."

On if she knew the score of the Japan-Norway game:
"We had no idea about the other scores of the games. We knew we had to score as many goals as we could. If we get one, that's great, but we kept pushing for me. We were just playing and things were happening."

On facing Canada in the quarterfinals:
"I've been a part of this team for a couple years and I feel like I've played them so much. We know how they play and it's going to be a definite battle. They are a strong team and have some really good players. We're going to forget about New Zealand and keep trying to elevate our game."

U.S. captain Christie Rampone

On winning the group after losing the first game:
"It shows how much spirit we have. We bounced back and it's exciting because we still haven't played our best soccer."

On if the team is prepared for the knockout round:
"I think we are prepared because our second game was almost a knockout game for us. We've been up against the wall and we are ready for it now."

U.S. midfielder Lindsay Tarpley

On the match:
"I'm extremely proud of how we responded. Obviously losing the first game wasn't how we wanted to start the tournament, so I'm just really happy right now and proud of this team."

On giving up and early goal in the first game and scoring one in the third:
"That's the game of soccer. Hopefully, you're on the positive side of things, but sometimes, like in our first game, they get the first goal, and you have to respond to that. Heather scored a great goal tonight and that set the tone."

U.S. defender Rachel Buehler

On making her first Olympic start:
"I was definitely a little nervous, but I was just really excited is the main thing. It's such an honor to play for your country and such a great opportunity that I got to start. It's just a dream come true. I wouldn't say I had trouble sleeping or anything, though. I slept pretty well (the night before the game).

On Heather O'Reilly's first-minute goal:
"We're playing some pretty solid defense all over the field and we got some pretty good momentum when Heather scored her goal in the first seconds. That kind of set the tone of the game and really helped having that attacking presence from the start and it took some of the pressure us."

On her assist to Amy Rodriguez, her first career point for the U.S.:
"A-Rod was running into that space and that's a run she's really good at making. She's so fast that she can usually beat the people in behind. I saw her making the run, and I was like, 'alright, I'll just hit it in behind' and it turned out well."



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