July 20, 2006
SANDNES, Norway – Notre Dame rising junior forward Amanda Cinalli helped the United States Under-21 National Team close group play with Thursday’s decisive 4-0 win over the host team Norway, sending the U.S. on to the championship game at the annual Nordic Cup – the world’s most prestigious women’s soccer tournament on the youth level. The Americans entered the game knowing they needed to win by a margin of at least four goals to finish atop Group B and Cinalli played a lead role in securing the final score by drawing a penalty kick in the 78th minute. UCLA’s Danesha Adams then converted the kick for her third goal of the game, placing Team USA in Saturday’s final versus Group-A winner Germany.
The U.S. will be looking to win its 10th overall Nordic Cup title and eighth straight, with the final to be held on Saturday, July 22, at Viking Stadium in Stavanger, Norway. The United States has defeated Germany twice previously in the Nordic Cup championship game: 1-0 in 2000 (played in Germany) and 3-1 at the 2002 event (in Finland). Saturday will mark the ninth straight championship game for the U.S. at the Nordic Cup, winning every year since 1997 with the exception of a loss to Norway in the ’98 title game.
Iceland, which played to a 1-1 draw with the U.S. on July 18, finished in a tie atop the Group B standings (2-0-1) but the Americans were +7 in goal differential while Iceland’s final group win over Denmark (6-1) yielded a +6. Germany went undefeated in Group A, defeating Sweden (2-0), Finland (3-0) and England (3-2).
The United States outscored its opponents 8-1 in the group phase (also 3-0 vs. Denmark) while compiling a 52-19 total shot edge that included a 19-12 margin in the Norway game. The U.S. also has totaled a dominating 23-4 edge in shots on goals (9-2 vs. Norway) while attempting 17 corner kicks to its opponents 6 (5-2 in the Norway game).
Cinalli – who has shown a knack for drawing penalty kicks during her career with the Irish, due to her toughness on the ball and dribbling skill – could become the eighth different Notre Dame player to be on a Nordic Cup championship team. Former Irish players Jen Grubb, Jenny Streiffer, LaKeysia Beene, Meotis Erikson and Kate Sobrero all were members of the United States team that won the 1997 Nordic Cup, with Grubb, Streiffer and Beene then playing for the 1999 championship team. Most recently, current senior-to-be midfielder Jen Buczkowski and former Notre Dame goalkeeper Erika Bohn were members of the U.S. squad that won the 2005 Nordic Cup.
Cinalli played the final 31 minutes of Thursday’s win over Norway and was on the field for the final three goals of the game. Adams had opened the scoring in the 5th minute, after a punt from fellow UCLA player Val Henderson was flocked off the head of former Virginia midfielder Noelle Keselica. Adams raced behind the Norway defense and finished from 20 yards with a lob over the goalkeeper for the early lead.
The intense match saw the USA generate some quality scoring chances during the first half but the championship game did not come within reach until the USA scored twice in a four-minute span midway through the second half. Adams redirected a rightside cross from Florida State defender India Trotter for a header into the left corner of the goal that yielded a 2-0 lead in the 68th minute. Three minutes later, Keselica scored on a header for the 3-0 cushion, with the assist coming from Penn State midfielder Sheree Gray.
Cinalli later was tripped in the penalty box and Adams placed her PK into the right corner for the final margin.
In the other Group A match, Sweden rolled past Finland, 3-0. Denmark will face Finland for 7th-place and Norway will take on Sweden for 5th-place while Iceland and England will square off in the 3rd-place game.
U.S. HEAD COACH JILLIAN ELLIS – “We were just all over them. We never took our foot off the gas. Danesha was just incredible. She was absolutely relentless, chasing balls down, working hard all over the field, making things happen and causing havoc. We were pushing and pushing and after we got the third, we just knew it was going to happen. Our back line [Lauren Wilmoth, Rachel Buehler, Kendall Fletcher and Brittany Taylor] was great in the way they dealt very well with the balls in behind and with the numbers Norway then sent forward. The overall team performance, front to back, was amazing. I’ve been around the game for a long time and I’ve really never been a part of something like this. They willed the win.”
2006 Nordic Cup – USA vs. Norway (July 20; Sandnes Stadium/Sandnes, Norway)
USA 1-3 – 4
Norway 0-0 – 0
USA 1. Danesha Adams (Noelle Keselica) 5th minute; USA 2. Adams (India Trotter) 68th; USA 3. Keselica (Sheree Gray) 71st; USA 4. Adams (PK) 78th.
Shots: USA 19, NOR 12
Corner Kicks: USA 5, NOR 2
Saves: USA (Val Henderson) 2, NOR (Jeanette Stavshoit) 5
Fouls: USA 13, NOR 14
Offside: USA 4, NOR 0
Misconduct Summary: USA – Trotter (caution) 76th minute; USA – June Pedersen (caution) 90th.
USA: 18-Val Henderson; 13-Lauren Wilmoth, 12-Rachel Buehler, 4-Kendall Fletcher – Capt., 5-Brittany Taylor; 10-Sarah Huffman (2-Sheree Gray, 46), 19-Noelle Keselica, 22-Angie Woznuk; 9- Danesha Adams, 6-Bristyn Davis, (15-Amanda Cinalli, 59), 21-India Trotter.
Norway: 1-Jeanette Stavshoit, 2-Nora Berge, 14-Janne Stange (17-Julie DÃƒÂ¸nnestad, 80), 5-Anneli Giske, 7-Lene Mykjaland (15-June Pedersen, 84), 6-Nasra Abdullah (11-Kristine Lindblom, 74), 8-Runa Vikestad (3-Toril Akerhaugen, 46), 9-Elise Thorsnes (19-Solfrid Andersen, 36), 10-Lindy Wiik, 16-Madeleine Giske, 20-Guro Knutsen.
Officials – referee Saija Raatikainen (Finland), referee asst. June Bendiksen (Norway) and referee asst. Maren Berge (Norway)
Germany – 9 pts (3-0-0; +6 goal differential)
England – 4 pts (1-1-1; +1)
Sweden – 4 pts (1-1-1; +1)
Finland – 0 pts (0-3-0; -8)
USA – 7 pts (2-0-1; +7)
Iceland – 7 pts (2-0-1; +6)
Norway – 3 pts (1-2-0; -1)
Denmark – 0 pts (0-3-0; -12)
Sunday, July 16 – USA 3, Denmark 0 … Iceland 3, Norway 2 … Germany 2, Sweden 0 … England 3, Finland 1
Tuesday, July 18 – USA 1, Iceland 1 … Norway 4, Denmark 0 … England 1, Sweden 1 … Germany 3, Finland 0
Thursday, July 20 – Iceland 6, Denmark 1 … USA 4, Norway 0 … Sweden 3, Finland 0 … Germany 3, England 2
Saturday, July 22 – 7th-Place Match (Denmark vs. Finland) … 5th-Place Match (Norway vs. Sweden) … 3rd-Place Match (Iceland vs. England) … Championship Game (USA vs. Germany)