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Americans find their stride
by Paul Kennedy, November 14th, 2008 7:01AM



[UNDER-17 WOMEN'S WORLD] Since getting through the group stage -- with great difficulty -- the USA has found its stride at the Under-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand. The Americans moved into Sunday's final in Auckland against North Korea with victories over group winners South Korea (4-2) and Germany (2-1). Here's a look at Coach Kazbek Tambi's starters from the last two games.

TAYLOR VANCIL (Eclipse Select). Goalkeeper came up big in final group match against France, preserving 1-1 tie Americans needed to advance. One of two goalies from Eclipse Select. College verbal: Louisville '09.

RACHEL QUON (Eclipse Select). The U-17s' comeback kid and starting right back. She tore her ACL at a U-17 training camp in 2007 and broke her collarbone in the resulting fall to boot. Returned to win right back job. College verbal: Stanford.

CLOOEE COLOHAN (Black Diamond SC). Team captain and only field player to have played every minute of the tournament. Teammates call her "Dory" after character in "Finding Nemo." College verbal: Portland.

CRYSTAL DUNN (Albertson Fury). Missed the opening loss to Japan due to illness but has recovered to put in several dominating performances at left back. College verbal: undecided '10.

SAM MEWIS (SC Scorpions). Twenty months younger but three inches taller (at 5-foot-11) than sister Kristie, who also starts for USA. Started opening game against Japan, sat out 3-1 win over Paraguay, was used a sub against France (0-0)  and returned to starting lineup at right back for last two games against South Korea and Germany. College verbal: undecided '11.

AMBER BROOKS (Arsenal World Class). Switch from outside back to defensive midfielder has helped solidify U.S. midfield. Played basketball with boys at the club level and used those skills to dominate in the air. College verbal: North Carolina.

JULIA ROBERTS (McLean Freedom). Free-kick specialist on U-17s. Balls from Roberts set up the first two U.S. goals against South Korea. Has hopes to be a doctor one day. College verbal: Virginia.

KRISTIE MEWIS (SC Scorpions). Outstanding individual talent on the U-17s with skill in abundance and an excellent long-range shot. Began getting college feelers when she was a freshman at Whitman-Hanson High School in Massachusetts. College verbal: Boston College.

OLIVIA KLEI (Pleasanton Rage). Only player from soccer hotbed California to start for the U-17s. Talent with her left foot drew the attention of dozens of college coaches but chose to go to college close to home. College verbal: Santa Clara.

VICKI DIMARTINO (Albertson Fury). Has scored in every game and leads Americans with five goals. Sister Gina helped the USA qualify for the 2008 U-20 Women's World Cup in Chile. Their older sister, Christina, played in the 2006 Under-20 Women's World Cup. College verbal: Boston College (where Gina plays).

COURTNEY VERLOO (FC Portland Sapphire). Winning goal against Germany in the quarterfinals was her fourth goal of the tournament and third in the last two games. USA's top threat up front. Outstanding as a target player. College verbal: Stanford.


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