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Australia Cup

U.S. replacement women take title by recording 3-1 victory over Australia.

ADELAIDE, Australia (Thursday, January 13, 2000) -- Sherrill Kester, Danielle Slaton and Aly Wagner provided the goals for the United States, which won the Australia Cup with a 3-1 victory over Australia before 3,500 at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.

The U.S., using a replacement team because of a boycott by the 20 members of its Women’s World Cup champion team, averaged 19.9 years of age and started six players aged 20 or younger, including two 17-year-olds. Still, the Americans were dominant over the more experienced Matildas, more known for their nude poses for a 2000 calendar than for their on-field exploits. The U.S. held a 20-6 shots advantage and 10-5 edge in corner kicks.

The U.S. (2-0-1) ended the four-nation tournament with the same record as Sweden, but took the title on goal differential, holding a plus-nine to Sweden’s plus-four.

"We accomplished all of our objectives," said U.S. co-coach Lauren Gregg. "First, we won by playing some exciting, attacking soccer. Second, these players invested in their development every minute they were on the field and took every advantage of this opportunity. Finally, these games gave us a chance to evaluate our young personalities against a much more experienced players, which gives us extremely valuable information as we go forward toward the Olympics."

The Americans jumped ahead in the 13th minute when striker Mandy Clemens stripped Aussie central defender Cheryl Salisbury and penetrated up the middle before feeding Jen Mascaro (nee Streiffer) on the right flank. Mascaro's bending cross behind the defense found the streaking Kester at the far post and the U.S. forward slid to knock the ball past closing Australia goalkeeper Tracey Wheeler from 16 yards out.

In the 19th minute, the U.S. came within inches from a second goal, but defender Michelle French's spinning free-kick struck the underside of the crossbar and Veronica Zepeda's follow-up header was cleared off the line.

The Americans did make it 2-0 in the 34th minute when Slaton spun past a defender, drove toward net and struck a shot from a sharp angle deflected off the leg of an Australia defender and past Wheeler, who was heading in the other direction

Wheeler made a great stop on a close-range shot from Wagner in the 36th minute and Clemens and Mascaro barely missed connecting in the 40th minute.

Australia (1-2) narrowed its deficit to 2-1 in the 75th minute off a corner kick when Alison Foreman crashed the far post to send a strong header past U.S. keeper Lakeysia Beene.

Seven minutes later, the U.S. restored its two-goal margin. Reserve Susan Bush pressured Wheeler into a poor clearance of a ball at the top right of the penalty area. Wheeler's kick fell to Heather Aldama, who quickly toe-poked the ball to Wagner. With Wheeler far out of her goal, Wagner nailed a 30-yarder into the top right corner.

"We played a very good first half and had great possession," said Slaton, who scored the first international goal of her career. "The defense was solid and very organized, which was great since we hadn't played as a unit very much. Michelle French gave us great leadership and great security in the middle."

Wagner, the American's second-most capped player on the roster with nine appearances, put in a dominant performance as playmaker in the central midfield.

"It was a great team win and defense played very well the whole tournament," said U.S. co-coach Jay Hoffman. "The bench played very well and several players really made individual impacts on the games. They all got tested, and that's important in judging their potential for the future."

Kester was the tournament's leading scorer with three goals.

"Individually, many of these players have as much talent as some of our veterans," Gregg said. "But obviously they lack experience and that makes a huge difference. Still, the sophistication they showed in this tournament was impressive to see."

United States 3, Australia 1

Lineups: Australia - Tracey Wheeler, Bridgette Star (Sacha Wainwright 89), Dianne Alagich, Anissa Tann-Darby (Peita-Claire Hepperlin 73), Cheryl Salisbury, Alison Foreman (captain), Sharon Black (Heather Garriock 77), Amy Wilson, Danielle Small, Katrina Boyd, Sunni Hughes; United States - Lakeysia Beene, Kelly Lindsey, Nandi Pryce, Michelle French (captain), Danielle Slaton, Aleisha Cramer, Aly Wagner, Veronica Zepeda (Mary-Frances Monroe 60), Jen Mascaro (Heather Aldama 60), Sherrill Kester (Susan Bush 46), Mandy Clemens.

Scoring:
United States - Kester (Mascaro) 13;
United States - Slaton (unassisted) 34;
Australia - Foreman (Black) 75;
United States - Wagner (Aldama) 82.

Shots: Australia 6, United States 20. Saves: Australia 5, Beene 3. Corner kicks: Australia 5, United States 10. Fouls: Australia 19, United States 15. Offside: Australia 0, United States 2. Yellow card cautions: Australia - Hughes 26, Foreman 76.

Referee: Tammy Ogston (Australia). Assistant referees: Jacquie Leleu (Australia), Brownwyn Calver (Australia). Attendance: 3,500 at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide, Australia. Weather: Hot, no breeze, 85 degrees.

Australia Cup scores

January 7
United States 8, Czech Republic 1
Sweden 2, Australia 0

January 10
United States 0, Sweden 0
Australia 3, Czech Republic 0

January 13
Sweden 2, Czech Republic 0
United States 3, Australia 1

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