U-20 Girls look to defend Nordic Cup title

The U.S. U-20 Girls' national team, under the guidance of Lauren Gregg, has departed for the Nordic Cup to be held in Holland from Aug. 3-9. The Nordic Cup, held annually in Northern Europe, brings together the world's top Under-21 women's national teams for the most important women's youth tournament for this age group. The eight competing teams are divided into two groups of four, with first-round play consisting of round-robin matches within the group. The group winners will then play for the championship. The two second-place group finishers will play for third place, the third-place finishers for fifth and the last-place finishers will play for seventh. The games will take place in several towns in northern Holland, located about a two-hour bus ride from Amsterdam. "We have a talented and committed group of players," said Gregg. "We are one of the younger teams in the tournament, but as always, our goal is to win the cup as we prepare players for 1999 and beyond. On this Nordic Cup team are a number of players who will be in our residency camp to prepare for the Women's World Cup in 1999, all of which have a chance to make the World Cup team." The USA won the tournament last year in Denmark, defeating arch-rival Norway in the championship game, 1-0, on a sudden-death overtime goal from Jenny Streiffer. This year, the Americans will face Finland (Aug. 3), Holland (Aug. 5) and Sweden (Aug. 7) in their first-round group. The placement matches will be held Aug. 9. Players born after January 1, 1977, are eligible for this year's Nordic Cup team; however, each team has two "overage" spots on its roster for players born after January 1, 1974. Gregg filled her slots with former North Carolina forward Robin Confer, who also filled an overage spot on last year's team and assisted on the winning goal in the championship game, and former Duke forward Samantha Baggett, who will probably play in defense. The roster is made up of four players who will be seniors in college, eight players who will be juniors, two sophomores, two players who have finished their college eligibility and two high school seniors. Here is the U.S. roster: Goalkeepers -- Lakeysia Beene (Notre Dame), Jenni Branam (So. California Blues). Defenders -- Heather Aldama (Santa Clara), *Samantha Baggett (Duke), Lorrie Fair (North Carolina), Ronnie Fair (Stanford), Jenn Grubb (Notre Dame) Midfielders -- Michelle French (Portland), Rebekah McDowell (North Carolina), Tiffany Roberts (North Carolina), Laurie Schwoy (North Carolina), Kristy Whelchel (Duke). Forwards -- Susan Bush (Houston Challenge), Mandy Clemens (Santa Clara), *Robin Confer (North Carolina), Raven McDonald (North Carolina), Cindy Parlow (North Carolina), Jenny Streiffer (Notre Dame) Head coach: Lauren Gregg. Assistant coach: Tracey Leone.
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