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Australia Cup

Mascaro, Kester each nets a pair in 8-1 romp over Czech Republic.

MELBOURNE, Australia (Friday, January 7, 2000) -- A young replacement United States team made easy work of the Czech Republic today, getting two goals and an assist apiece from Jen Mascaro and Sherill Kester to open the Australia Cup before 1,200 at Olympic Stadium.

Six U.S. players earned their first cap and six netted their first international goal. The American side, with an average age of 19.9 years, is competing here because the 20 members of the U.S. 1999 Women's World Cup champion are at a contract impasse with the United States Soccer Federation and chose not to participate.

Not counting veteran defender Thori Bryan, making her 54th appearance, the U.S. starting lineup owned a total of 11 caps and no international goals at the start of the match. That changed quickly when Mascaro (nee Streiffer) put the Americans ahead 1-0 in the 12th minute. A corner kick from Mandy Clemens was poorly cleared by the Czech defense and the ball fell to Kester, who crossed to the far post for Mascaro to hit a spinning volley from eight yards into the left corner.

The Americans pressed the attack from the outset and Clemens fired four shots in the first 10 minutes, two of which were just tipped over the crossbar by goalkeeper Zuzana Pincova. Clemens, the winner of both the Hermann and Missouri Athletic Club awards as college soccer's best player in 1999, played well before leaving with tightness in her right hamstring. She made solo runs through the Czech defense on several occasions.

It was Clemens who set up the second goal, taking a throw-in from Bryan down the right flank before turning the corner on her defender and finding Susan Bush with a pass that the 19-year old to knock in from four yards.

"I was extremely pleased with the commitment of our players, both individually and collectively, not only to getting a result, but to the level of play," said U.S. coach Lauren Gregg.

The U.S. increased its lead to 3-0 in the 40th minute when midfielder Nikki Serlenga's well-hit, but savable shot bounced over a flopping Pincova from 18 yards out.

Kester put the game away by scoring twice in the first 12 minutes of the second half, the first coming when she ran onto a cross from Christie Welsh and slid to knock the ball into the right corner. Welsh also created the next goal, weaving through several defenders in the penalty area, only to have her shot blocked. The ball rebounded to Mascaro, who took a crack herself, only to have her shot cleared weakly off the line to Kester, who shot into an open net from close range and a 5-0 advantage.

"I guess it was kind of a dream debut," said Kester, who became only the second player in U.S. women's history to score twice in her first international match. "But I got great service from Christie on the first goal and just framed Jen's shot on the second."

Mascaro scored her second goal in the 65th minute after 17-year old Nandi Pryce ran onto a corner kick and sent a bullet header back through the box. The ball was deflected into the air for Mascaro to fire a full-volley through goal-mouth traffic into the left side of the net from six yards out and a 6-0 lead.

"Our midfield was largely responsible for controlling the tempo the game," added Gregg. "Jen Mascaro and Aly Wagner delivered some exception final passes and Aleisha Cramer was a ball winner."

The seventh American goal came after Serlenga threaded a pass to her to the top of the box to Welsh who wheeled toward goal and fired her left-footed shot low into the left corner to make it 7-0.

"The game was a lot of fun," said Welsh, who came on for Clemens at halftime. "We had some great goals and I felt comfortable out there. We pretty much had the game won when I came in, but to our team's credit we kept pounding away."

Seventeen-year-old Veronica Zepeda made it 8-0 in the 83d minute after Wagner beat two defenders on a run into the box and tried the chip a shot over the goalkeeper. Pincova made a flying save, but was helpless as Zepeda slammed the rebound into the open net.

The U.S. next faces Sweden on Monday at 1:30 a.m. (ET). Sweden opened with a 2-0 shutout of Australia.

United States 8, Czech Republic 1

Lineups: United States - Lakeysia Beene, Thori Bryan (Nandi Pryce 46), Kelly Lindsey, Michelle French (captain), Danielle Slaton (Heather Aldama 60), Aleisha Cramer (Aly Wagner 46), Nikki Serlenga, Jen Mascaro, Sherrill Kester, Susan Bush (Veronica Zepeda 60), Mandy Clemens (Christie Welsh 46); Czech Republic - Zuzana Pincova, Pavla Cervenkova (Dagmar Hrenova 31), Ienka Zahorikova, Eva Knavova, Pavla Mackova (Alena Petranova 73), Dana Jerabkova (Ienla Kaplanova 46), Pavlina Scasna, Martina Jedlickova (captain; Katerina Doskova 55), Gabriela Chlumecka, Iveta Dudova.

United States - Mascaro (Kester) 12;
United States - Bush (Clemens) 16;
United States - Serlenga (Bush) 40;
United States - Kester (Welsh) 50;
United States - Kester (Mascaro) 57;
United States - Mascaro (Pryce) 65;
United States - Welsh (Serlenga) 75;
United States - Zepeda (Wagner) 83;
Czech Republic - Dudova (n/a) 86.

Shots: United States 26, Czech Republic 2. Saves: United States 0, Czech Republic 10. Corner kicks: United States 7, Czech Republic 3. Fouls: United States 12, Czech Republic 10. Offside: United States 1, Czech Republic 0. Yellow card cautions: Czech Republic - Cervenkova 25, Chlumecka 90.

Referee: Krystina Sol (Australia). Assistant referees: Elizabeth Mast (Australia), Jackie Meiksbam (Australia). Attendance: 1,200 at Olympic Park in Melbourne, Australia. Weather: Sunny, breezy, 78 degrees.

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