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Morgan comes to the rescue
by Paul Kennedy, February 12th, 2012 2:12AM

TAGS:  women's national team


[USA-NEW ZEALAND] From off the bench or in the starting lineup, there's no stopping Alex Morgan. In a rare start, the U.S. forward, who will appear this week in the bodypaint feature in the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, scored the tying goal in the 88th minute and added the winner three minutes into stoppage time to rally the USA past New Zealand, 2-1, in a women's friendly on Saturday. Despite near-freezing temperatures, the game drew a sellout crowd of 20,677 at FC Dallas Stadium, the largest crowd to watch the U.S. women on home soil in more than eight years.

University of Tennessee signee  Hannah Wilkinson took advantage of a bad back pass from left back Kelley O'Hara to put the Kiwis ahead on their only shot on goal in the game early in the second half and they looked to be set for a major upset when Morgan took over.

In the 88th minute, Megan Rapinoe found Morgan at the far post, where the former Cal star headed the ball down to the ground and it hit the inside of the left post and spun up into the goal.

Minutes later, Rachel Buehler crossed from the left wing and Abby Wambach flicked the ball up in the air. Morgan jumped over a defender to win the header near the left post, sending her bouncing shot back off the right post with the perfect carom and into the net for her 16th career goal.

"It wasn't meant to be like that; I had other expectations in the first half, but I'll take the result any day," said U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage. "We made it really, really exciting. As Alex Morgan said after the game, 'there's something to be said about this team. We refuse to lose.' We always want to win. We did some things tactically that I was really happy about -- playing a 3-4-3 the last 12-14 minutes going for a goal. It's a great attitude."

Morgan had come off the bench to spark the U.S. attack that had sputtered in the deciding Olympic qualifying semifinal against Costa Rica and two days later scored twice in the first half hour of the final against Canada.

Feb. 11 in Frisco, Texas
USA 2 New Zealand 1. Goal: Morgan 88, 90; Wilkinson 49.
USA -- Solo (Barnhart, 46), LePeilbet, Rampone, Buehler, O'Hara (Leroux, 81), O'Reilly (Rodriguez, 46), Boxx, Lloyd (Rapinoe, 62), Cheney (Lindsey, 81), Morgan, Wambach.
New Zealand -- Bindon, Percival, Erceg, Smith, Riley, Hoyle, Moorwood (Hassett, 61), Yallop, Hearn, Gregorius, Wilkinson (White, 74)
Referee: Moo Hackett (USA)
Att.: 20,677.

1 comment
  1. Phil Love
    commented on: February 13, 2012 at 8:59 a.m.
    First 20 minutes were good for USWNT as they controlled the ball well as Pia outlined in her pregame remarks. Last 10 minutes were great as they put tremendous pressure on the goal, controlled the game and came up with two goals to win. In between was 60 minutes of careless uninspired play with little ball control and lots of "just boot it." USWNT played as if they were entitled to win by merely being on the field.

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