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American kids defeat Finland 3-1.

ORLANDO, Fla. (Wednesday, February 24, 1999) -- The United States, giving many of its young players a rare start, received early goals from Jen Grubb and Samantha Baggett and a second-half tally from Beth Keller to defeat Finland 3-1 in a closed-door match at the Americans’ home, the Seminole County Sports Training Center.

Coach Tony DiCicco will bring in his veterans for the rematch Saturday at the University of Tampa at 4 p.m. in a match broadcast by ESPN2.

Six players earned their first cap with the national team, while two scored their first international goals, as the USA built a 3-0 lead before allowing a late goal for the final margin.

Grubb opened the scoring in the 7th minute with a thundering 25-yard free-kick that hit the left post before bouncing in for her second international goal in 12 matches.

In the 17th minute, defender Michelle French drove a cross to Samantha Baggett, who met the ball with a glancing header that found the left corner from 10 yards out. It was Baggett's first in international play in her second cap.

The third goal will be the answer to a trivia question: What U.S. Women's National Team player scored a goal on her first touch of her first game? The answer: Beth Keller, a sophomore midfielder from Clemson University, who entered the match in the 68th minute and scored just seconds later when the U.S. caught Finland off-guard with a quickly taken free-kick.

French fed a short pass to Jen Streiffer, who fed Keller in the box, to score from six yards on her first touch in a national team uniform.

Streiffer’s collegiate teammate at Notre Dame, midfielder Anne Makinen, scored on a breakaway in the 83d minute to put Finland on the board.

Players that earned their first caps were Keller, Streiffer (Notre Dame), defender Danielle Slaton (Santa Clara), forward Mandy Clemens (Santa Clara), defender Heather Mitts (Florida) and forward Meredith Florance (North Carolina).

"It was a great performance by our young personalities," said U.S. assistant coach Lauren Gregg, who also serves as the head coach of the U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team. "They played with the poise and winning mentality that the U.S. women are known for. Our speed of play was outstanding, despite that fact that Finland hung back a bit and played low pressure."

Three of Finland's players compete at U.S. colleges. Makinen is a first-team A ll-America for the Irish is one of college soccer's top players for the Irish. Forward Minna Mustonen plays at Franklin Pierce College and striker Susanna Heikari will attend the Portland next season.

The win stretched the U.S.'s unbeaten streak on American soil to 47 straight full-international matches, a team record. "Our front line was very dangerous because of our speed, mobility and finishing ability," Gregg said. "Mandy Clemens and Susan Bush both provided constant danger to the Finish defense and the playmaking abilities of Laurie Schwoy and Aly Wagner really maximized our attacking qualities."

United States 3, Finland 1

Lineups: United States - Saskia Webber, Michelle French, Samantha Baggett, Danielle Slaton (Heather Mitts 63), Sara Whalen, Jen Grubb (Beth Keller 68th), Laurie Schwoy (Meredith Florance 46), Aly Wagner (Heather Aldama 77), Jen Streiffer, Mandy Clemens, Susan Bush; Finland - Johanna Lindell (Satu Kunnas 79), Anne Makinen, Christina Forssell, Jessica Thorn, Terhi Uusi-Luomalahti, Laura Kalmari, Julia Uusmalmi (Tiina Saario 75), Jessica Julin (Sanna Valkonen 68), Susanna Heikari, Katri Nokso-Koivisto (Rosa Lappi-Seppala 68), Minna Mustonen (Sani Ylitalo, 77).

United States - Grubb (unassisted) 5;
United States - Baggett (French) 17;
United States - Keller (Streiffer) 69;
Finland - Makinen (Saario) 83.

Shots: United States 13, Finland 5. Saves: United States 1, Finland 7. Corner kicks: United States 8, Finland 1. Fouls: United States 9, Finland 8. Offside: United States 2, Finland 1.

Referee: name not available. Assistant referees: name not available. Attendance: closed door match at Seminole County Training Center. Weather: Sunny, windy, 73 degrees.

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