Hamm's hat trick leads U.S. women past Germany

Forward Mia Hamm logged yet another world-class performance, scoring three goals in a 20-minute span in the second half as the U.S. women's national team defeated Germany, 4-2, in front of 13,107 at Solider Field, a venue for the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. Coming off a disappointing 1-1 tie with the European champions in St. Louis last Thursday night, a more focused U.S. team started fast, playing with pace and rhythm to keep the pressure on Germany the entire match. The Germans had their share of dangerous scoring opportunities in the end-to-end game, which marked the fourth time a team has scored more than once on the USA in the past 46 matches, but the Americans got on the board first in the 30th minute. Julie Foudy spun a perfect cross from the right wing to Kristine Lilly at the far post. Lilly collected the ball, cut back inside past German defender Kerstin Stegemann, and struck her right-footed shot into the lower left corner, beating goalkeeper Silke Rottenberg to the near post for her 59th international goal. German midfielder Sandra Smisek had two golden chances in the first half, but Kate Sobrero ran her down from behind in the 17th minute to deny the breakaway and U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry dove to her left to save a hard shot in the 36th minute. Hamm doubled the score in the 49th minute, taking advantage of a horrible error by German sweeper Steffi Jones, who stepped on the ball and fell to the turf 35 yards from the net. Hamm swooped in and easily converted her breakaway, rolling her shot into the right corner from 12 yards out. "The fan support here at Soldier Field was great, " said Hamm, who registered her 8th career hat trick and second of 1998. "When the rest of the world shows up for the 1999 Women's World Cup, they will see just how impressive and enthusiastic the crowds here can be." Hamm added her second goal just two minutes later as Foudy took advantage of another German giveaway, as Stegemann was again victimized. Foudy stole her pass and raced toward goal where she fed Hamm in the right side of the penalty box. Hamm let the ball roll across her body, freezing a German defender, and stuck her shot low into the left corner from 10 yards out. "It was a very good win for us because we felt we were fortunate to get a draw in the first match," said Foudy. "We felt we could have scored a few more today. There were some defensive breakdowns on our part and some more things we can work on, but all-in-all, it was a great performance as we head towards the World Cup in 1999." Germany pulled a goal back in the 55th minute when Inka Grings headed Tanja Vreden's cross past Scurry from eight yards out, but Hamm ended any thoughts of a German comeback in the 69th minute as she completed her hat-trick in spectacular fashion, finishing off a classic U.S. buildup. Tiffeny Milbrett shrugged off a defender and dribbled up the right flank before sending a perfect cross into the middle of the penalty area. With a defender draped over her back, Hamm was able to get inside position and slid to meet Milbrett's cross, knocking the ball into the roof of the net from seven yards out for her 92nd international goal. The Germans seemingly had enough of Hamm in the 72nd minute as Monika Meyer kicked the U.S. star hard in the back of the leg on the sideline and then shoved her out of bounds, sending her flying into the U.S. bench. U.S. coach Tony DiCicco vehemently protested the harsh treatment of Hamm and was ejected by referee Kari Seitz-Varnhagen. Germany added a final goal in the 81st minute, when Ariane Hingst knocked in a rebound of a shot that Scurry saved but couldn't hold. Just before the final whistle, Scurry made the save of the match, diving at the feet of Claudia Muller to snuff a breakaway. "There isn't as much of gap between our play and that of the rest of the world," said DiCicco afterwards. "But when we play our best, we are still the best team in the world. We have a lot of work to do before we can win back the World Cup, but today's result against a first-class opponent was very satisfying." The USA extended its domestic unbeaten streak to 36 matches and will now take two weeks off before regrouping in Long Island, N.Y. for the 1998 Goodwill Games, featuring Norway, China and the USA's first-round opponent, Denmark. Norway will meet China and Denmark faces the USA on July 25, with the winners playing for the Gold Medal on July 27 at the Mitchell Athletic Complex. The matches in Long Island mark the first time women's soccer has been included in the Goodwill Games. All the U.S. matches will be televised on TNT. June 28 in Chicago USA 4 Germany 2. Goals: Lilly 30, Hamm 49, 51, 69; Grings 55, Hingst 81. USA -- Scurry, Overbeck, Sobrero (Pearce, 72), Fair, Fawcett, Chastain, Foudy (MacMillan, 65), Lilly, Keller (Parlow, 46), Milbrett, Hamm (Venturini, 74). Germany -- Rottenberg, Stegeman, Jones, Fitschen, Fuss (Becher, 46, Hingst, 72), Smisek (Lingor, 63), Hoffmann, Voss, Grings (Moeller, 77), Vreden, Meyer (Brandebusemeyer, 79). Yellow card: USA -- Foudy 38. Red card: USA -- Coach DiCicco 73. Referee: Kari Seitz-Varnhagen (USA). Att.: 13,107.
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