Neaton scores as U.S. women beat Iceland 1-0 in the rain.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. (Sunday, May 10, 1998) -- The United States women battled the elements and an inspired Iceland for 77 minutes before substitute striker Natalie Neaton headed in a Julie Foudy cross to give the USA a hard-fought 1-0 victory in a misty rain at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium.
The pace of the game was slowed by a field saturated from five days of steady rain, but U.S. patiently dominated until Neaton could finally break through before 5,811 hardy fans.
"We were just a little anxious instead of just letting it happen," said U.S.forward Mia Hamm."I wish we could have put the ball in the net a few more times for the people that came out in this weather, but at least we got the win."
After scoring 21 goals in its previous three matches, including a 6-0 victory over Iceland Friday night in Indianapolis, a condensed Iceland defense kept the Americans off the board until just 13 minutes remained. The U.S. got the winner when Kristine Lilly contained a ball that had skipped through the box. From the left touch line, she slid a pass to Julie Foudy just inside the box.
Foudy carried to the end line, then crossed to Neaton, who standing at the center of the six yard-line, flicked a header into the top right corner.
"I could feel a sense of urgency as soon as I went into the game," said Neaton. "I knew if we kept pressing we would get one, and Julie gave me a perfect cross. As one of the younger players, it feels great to contribute to a victory, as we are all trying to win roster spots for the Women's World Cup in 1999."
Neaton, who has displayed a flair for the dramatic in her short national team career, scored her third international goal in just her fourth match. She also came off the bench on May 22, 1995, to score the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Canada in Edmonton.
Iceland showed considerable more fight than in Friday's loss, but the conditions clearly favored the Europeans, who packed their defense with five defenders and absorbed repeated U.S. attacks in the muddy box. The Americans created numerous dangerous opportunities, but repeatedly pulled their shots high on the heavy field. Twice, Iceland defenders cleared balls from their goal line after goalkeeper Sigridur Palsdottir had been beaten.
The U.S. turned up the pressure after intermission, outshooting Iceland 16-0 for a 22-3 edge for the match.
"The Iceland team was a bit embarrassed after Friday's loss and came out to prove something today, which I think they did," said U.S. coach Tony DiCicco."We didn't do a good job of using the width of the field in the first half, but we battled and got a goal, and that's definitely something we can build on as we continue to prepare for the World Cup."
The Americans came close several times during the match as Tiffeny Milbrett put her close range shot over the top in just the third minute, while Foudy and Neaton both hit crossbars in the final 15.
The U.S. has two days off before regrouping in Los Angeles on Wednesday for their teams first tour of Japan.
Notes: The match marked Lilly's 150th career international game, moving her into second place on the world's all-time appearance list, tying Italian legend Carolina Morace. Provided she plays against Japan in Tokyo on May 17, she will tie the world record of 151 appearances held by retired Heidi Stoere of Norway, and then break it against Japan in Kobe on May 21.
Head coach Tony DiCicco registered his 65th win at the helm of the U.S. team, tying him with Anson Dorrance for most wins by a head coach in the history of U.S. Soccer.
United States 1, Iceland 0Lineups: United States - Saskia Webber, Brandi Chastain, Christie Pearce (Amanda Cromwell 83), Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy, Michelle Akers (Tisha Venturini 46), Shannon MacMillan (Sara Whalen 68), Tiffeny Milbrett (Debbie Keller 46), Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm, Cindy Parlow (Natalie Neaton 68). Iceland - Sigridur Palsdottir (Thora Helgadottir 80), Audur Skuladottir, Rosa Steinthorsdottir, Margret Akadottir, Helga Hannesdottir, Asthildur Helgadottir, Hjordis Simonardottir (Erla Hendriksdottir 68), Edda Gardarsdottir (Laufey Olafsdottir, 80), Katrin Jonsdottir, Olga Faerseth (Asgerdur Ingibergsdottir 68), Gundlaug Jonsdottir.
Scoring: United States - Neaton (Foudy) 77. Shots: United States 22, Iceland 3. Saves: United States 1, Iceland 4. Corner kicks: United States 14, Iceland 3. Fouls: United States 5, Iceland 8. Offside: United States 0, Iceland 1. Yellow card cautions: Iceland - Helgadottir 25, Simonardottir 51.
Referee: Bob Shaker (United States). Assistant referees: Ann Ross (United States), B.J. Batting (United States). Attendance: 5,811 at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, Pa. Weather: Rain, mist, 57 degrees.