U.S. U-21 WOMEN: Natasha Kai scores twice, Americans reach Nordic Cup final

Natasha Kai scored two second-half goals and Sarah Huffman connected for the second successive game as the U.S. under-21 national team dominated Germany, 3-0, Tuesday at Dalvik, Iceland, to advance to its eighth successive Nordic Cup final.

Kai, a University of Hawaii All-American who was the top goalscorer in NCAA Division I last fall, netted her second and third goals of the ''unofficial world championship'' for under-21 women as the United States claimed its third 3-0 victory in as many Group B matches.

The Americans, winners of the past five and six of the past seven Nordic Cups, will meet Sweden in Thursday's championship game at Akureyrarvollur Stadium in Akureyri. The Swedes closed Group A play Tuesday with a 2-2 tie against Iceland.

''It's been an outstanding team performance so far,'' U.S. coach Chris Petrucelli said. ''We were basically in the toughest group, and the players have dominated it.

''The big thing for us is that everyone has stepped up. A number of people have scored goals, and our back four has been really good. The few times [opponents] have gotten in, Barney [goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart] has been great.''

The Americans withstood 40 mph headwinds in the first half and took charge with goals eight minutes apart by Kai and Huffman early in the second half.

Kai headed home a cross from Portland's Lindsey Huie in the 56th minute to break the tie after Huffman, from Virginia, collected the rebound of a Huie corner kick. Kai beat German goalkeeper Ursula Holl to the cross.

Huffman connected on a rebound in the 64th after Holl saved a header by Rutgers' Carli Lloyd from a Kai cross.

Kai, who scored a goal and set up two others in the tournament-opening win over Finland, scored the third goal in the 78th minute from a fine pass by Arizona State's Manya Makoski. The goal was Kai's 12th of the year for the U-21s.

''The Americans were better at every facet,'' said German coach Helmut Horsch, who applauded Kai's second strike. ''They were a class better than every other team in our group.''

Barnhart, from Stanford, made a sensational save on a first-half breakaway by Shelley Thompson, who last year attended Regis University in Denver on a soccer scholarship but was ineligible to play. (Thompson had signed with an agent after inking a letter-of-intent with the NCAA Division II school; although she accepted no money and gained no benefits from the arrangement, and although she volunteered the information, the NCAA D2 reinstatement committee refused to restore her eligibility.)

Holl also came up with saves on first-half breakaways by Kai, Lloyd and Texas's Kelly Wilson, then made a point-blank stop of a header by North Carolina's Lori Chalupny.

''It was pretty crazy in the first half, because everyone was trying to figure out how to deal with the wind,'' U.S. defender Jill Oakes said. ''We had to be prepared for their long balls to go flying over us. A ball could go in any direction at any moment. We couldn't hit any long balls, and we had to try to possess the ball through then, which we did, and got some chances, but we couldn't capitalize.

''In the second half, we took over, picked up the pace and played like we wanted to. With the wind in the second half, we could be more versatile.''

Finland eclipsed Germany for second place in Group B, and a berth opposite Denmark in Thursday's third-place game, with a 4-0 rout of Norway. Sanna Talonen scored goals in the sixth and eighth minutes, and Miia Niemi and Taru Hakala added goals later in the first half.

Linda Forsberg and Anna Morstam scored goals for Sweden, which had clinched its berth in the final following victories in its first two Group A encounters. Margret Laura Vidarsdottir's 79th-minute goal pulled Iceland even.

Denmark finished second in Group B by beating England, 3-2.

in Iceland

Group A

Sweden 2 0 1 5 2 7
Iceland 0 0 3 4 4 3
Denmark 1 1 1 4 5 4
England 0 2 1 3 5 1

Friday, July 23
Sweden 2 (Hammarstrom 31, Lindqvist 52) Denmark 0
Iceland 1 (Kristinsdottir 45) England 1 (Gallagher 27)

Sunday, July 25
England 0 Sweden 1 (Seger 8)
Iceland 1 (Arnardottir 19) Denmark 1 (Mejer 29)

Tuesday, July 27
Iceland 2 (Laurusdottir 21, Vidarsdottir 79) Sweden 2 (Forsberg 32, Morstam 45)
Denmark 3 (Mejer 3, 35, Knudsen 45) England 2 (McDougal 56, Johnson 72)

Group B

United States 3 0 0 9 0 9
Finland 1 1 1 4 3 4
Germany 1 1 1 3 4 4
Norway 0 3 0 1 10 0

Friday, July 23
United States 3 (Lohman pen. 7, Kai 18, Lloyd 30) Finland 0
Germany 3 (Hagedorn 20, Brendel 32, Sabel 52) Norway 1 (Kaurin 90)

Sunday, July 25
United States 3 (Huffman 37, Wilson 42, 86) Norway 0
Germany 0 Finland 0

Tuesday, July 27
United States 3 (Kai 56, 78, Huffman 64) Germany 0
Finland 4 (Talonen 6, 8, Niemi 31, Hakala 45) Norway 0

Placement games
Thursday, July 29
Sweden vs. United States
Third: Denmark vs. Finland
Fifth: Iceland vs. Germany
Seventh: England vs. Norway

Tuesday, July 27 at Dalvik, Iceland

United States 3 Germany 0. Goals: Kai 56, 78, Huffman 64.

United States -- Barnhart; Farenbaugh, Oakes, Dowling, Huie; Huffman (White, 74), Lohman, Chalupny (Thaden, 66); Wilson (Hunt, 83), Kai (Sitch, 78), Lloyd (Makoski, 66).

Norway -- Holl; Kameraj (Brendel, 78), Boschert (Zietz, 61), Stegmann, Zerbe, Kliehm (Derda, 78), Hagedorn, Wilkens (Salaender, 66), Schoknecht, Hinnighofen, Thompson (B. Mueller, 78).

Yellow cards: U.S. -- Thaden 81; Germany -- Stegmann 87.

Referee: Jenny Palmqvist (Sweden).

Att.: 200.

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