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Serlenga’s second-half tally is good enough for 1-1 draw with Norway.

Nikki Serlenga
Nikki Serlenga
TROMSÃ, Norway (Thursday, July 27, 2000) -- Norway scored on its first shot, but the United States gained a 1-1 draw on Nikki Serlenga’s goal in the 63rd minute of this friendly before 3,810 at Alfheim Stadium today.

Coming off a triumph at the DFB Jubilee Tournament in Germany that included wins over Norway and Germany, and a tie with China, the U.S. showed energy and commitment against the always-difficult Norwegian attack of long balls and counter-attacks.

U.S. coach April Heinrichs chose to rest five regular starters, leaving three of her most dynamic attackers strikers Mia Hamm and Tiffeny Milbrett, and midfielder Kristine Lilly -- on the bench to start the game, while pairing Cindy Parlow and Sara Whalen on the forward line for the first time. Defender Kate Sobrero, still recovering from a concussion suffered Saturday against Germany, was not slated to play.

"Every single player that started for us had an impact on the game," Heinrichs said. "There was great intensity in the first half, but we made one mistake and it cost us. And aside from one mistake in the second half, we played very well. We possessed the ball well and we're just an inch away from getting in behind them more consistently."

Briana Scurry
Briana Scurry
Briana Scurry started in place of Siri Mullinix, and became the first goalkeeper in U.S. history to play 100 matches. It was just Scurry's second match of 2000 after recovering from several injuries.She last played in February in Florida, also against Norway, a game in which she gave up a goal to Marianne Pettersen.

History repeated itself in Tromsa, a charming fjord-side city located 120 miles north of the arctic circle that was bathed in a warm "Midnight Sun" for the match. Pettersen tallied just three minutes into the game.

Monica Knudsen's toe-poked pass put Pettersen in a foot race with the U.S. defense. With Christie Pearce in tow, Pettersen did well to dribble around Scurry, taking a touch as the U.S. goalkeeper dove at her feet, and somehow sneaked the ball between the recovering Pearce and the near post from eight yards out for her 60th international goal.

Four minutes before the tying goal, Hamm entered and brought a spark to the U.S. attack. The Americans earned a corner-kick from the left side that Hamm drilled to the near post. Defender Joy Fawcett kept the ball alive with a deft flick into the middle and Norwegian goalkeeper Bente Nordby had to punch the ball away.

It dropped in the middle of the penalty box where defender Anne Tannnesson tried to clear it with her heel, but the ball fell into the path of the onrushing Serlenga, who cracked her shot first time on frame. The ball whizzed by Nordby, but defender Garil Kringen lunged to block the shot with her foot, only to see it hit the diving Nordby in the back and roll slowly across the goal line to make it 1-1 as Kringen and Nordby lay sprawled on the ground.

"You always talk about getting the shot on frame and it has a chance to go in," Hamm said. "Nikki did that and it was an important goal for us."

Two minutes later, the U.S. nearly took the lead when Hamm left Kringen in her wake on a breakaway, but Nordby dove to her left to slap Hamm's shot away.

It was a match short on dangerous chances, and in a rare occurrence, the U.S. team was out-shot 7-6. Norway perhaps had a slight edge in real scoring opportunities.

The match was the first-ever for the U.S. against Norway in Norway. A pumped up home side took the game to the Americans in the early going in front of a boisterous crowd. Norway played with a lone attacker in the 4-5-1 system, but that "1" gave the Americans problems all game as Pettersen took four of Norway's seven shots.

The U.S. struggled in a tightly cramped midfield, giving away numerous balls, but rallied to play some quality possession against a Norway defense content to sit back and clog the middle.

"It was really crowded in there, really all you could do was get the ball and play it back," said Serlenga, who played in the central midfield. "When you turned to goal, they closed the space quickly. You saw gaps and then they just weren't there. When they take that away from us, we just have to get better at playing long balls over the top to stretch the defense."

Midfielder Michelle Akers played in her second match since coming back from shoulder surgery, coming on for Julie Foudy in the 61st minute, and played a solid game in the center, testing Nordby with a drive from 30 yards that was snagged by the Norwegian goalkeeper.

U.S. women, who trail Norway 12-13-2 in the all-time series, are 20-3-5 in 2000. The two nations play again Sunday in Oslo at Ullevaal Stadium at 2 p.m. (ET).

United States 1, Norway 1

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry (captain), Christie Pearce (Kristine Lilly 46), Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain, Danielle Slaton, Shannon MacMillan (Tiffeny Milbrett 80), Lorrie Fair, Nikki Serlenga, Julie Foudy (Michelle Akers 61), Cindy Parlow (Mia Hamm 59), Sara Whalen. Norway - Bente Nordby, Gro Espeseth (Bente Kvitland 76), Garil Kringen (captain), Brit Sanduane, Anne Tannessen, Solveig Gulbrandsen (Ragnild Gulbrandsen 82), Monica Knudsen (Dagny Mellgren 55), Hege Riise, Unni Lehn (Anita Rapp 46), Margunn Haugenes (Christine Boe Jensen 46), Marianne Pettersen.

Norway - Pettersen (Knudsen) 3.
United States - Serlenga (unassisted) 63.

Shots: United States 6, Norway 7. Saves: United Stats 2, Norway 2. Corner kicks: United States 4, Norway 4. Fouls: United States 11, Norway 14. Offside: United States 7, Norway 4. Yellow card cautions: Norway - Espeseth 75.

Referee: Katrina Elovirta (Finland). Attendance: 3,810at Alfheim Stadium in Tromsa, Norway. Weather:Sunny, warm, 76 degrees.

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