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Pacific Cup title hopes slim despite cruising past New Zealand 5-0 behind Welsh, Parlow, Hamm.

SYDNEY (Monday, June 5, 2000) -- By the time the United States women take the field Thursday for their fourth Pacific Cup match, they should know if they have a chance to capture the title of his pre-Olympic event.

In the opening game of a doubleheader at Breakers Stadium in Newcastle, China (3-0) takes on Canada (2-1), followed by the U.S. (2-1) meeting New Zealand (0-3). Considering the U.S. followed the probably fatal 1-0 loss to China by routing the Canadians 9-1, there seems to be little hope for the Americans to take home this trophy. But after getting by the U.S., China needed penalty kicks after playing a 1-1 tie to overcome Australia (1-2), so there’s always hope, albeit slight.

The tournament ends this weekend with China facing New Zealand and the U.S. meeting host Australia.

"We're still pursuing the tournament championship," said U.S. coach April Heinrichs. "We know we will need some help from another team to beat China, but if China loses, we want to be in the best place to move from second to first."

Mia Hamm
Mia Hamm
Yesterday, U.S. striker Mia Hamm notched her 100th and 101st career assists, but it was two goals from Christie Welsh and then fellow striker Cindy Parlow’s three goals -- her second consecutive hat trick -- that led an easy 5-0 victory of New Zealand at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.

Coming off a three-goal performance against Canada Friday, Parlow became just the second U.S. player -- (Hamm was the first -- to perform the feat in consecutive matches.

Cindy Parlow
Cindy Parlow
"All three of my goals came from team play," Parlow said. "People made great runs, we had great buildup and tremendous passes into me. Some were harder to miss than to make."

Heinrichs chose to rest six regular starters, giving the nod to midfielders Aly Wagner and Nikki Serlenga, defenders Danielle Slaton, Christie Pearce and Sara Whalen, and Welsh, who scored the first two goals of the game to increase her career total to nine in just 12 matches.

Heinrichs went with the same 11 for the entire one-sided affair in which the U.S. outshot the Kiwis 36-0 and held a 15-1 edge in corner kicks.

Hamm, who had two assists, looked extremely sharp as she sliced through the New Zealand defense to fire nine shots, but like on Friday night against Canada, could not find the net.

Still, she set up the first goal with a cross from the left side. Parlow jumped for the ball, but it flew over her and the defender's head, bouncing to the unmarked Welsh, who popped her shot into the upper right corner from close range.

"Sometimes the game is very generous and sometimes the game is very stingy," Parlow said. "It's being generous to me right now and not so generous to Mia, but obviously that can change at any moment and I can be the one hitting the post or the goalkeeper. I just want to step on the field and control what I can control. If the goals come, great, if not, I know someone else will score."

New Zealand rarely crossed the midfield stripe during the game and U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix handled the ball just three times.

Often playing with 11 women behind the ball, New Zealand left little space for the U.S. attack, but quick passing and liberal use of the field’s width enabled the Americans to consistently find a way through, or around, the Kiwi bunker.

The U.S. hit the woodwork several times during the match. Hamm struck the outside of the right post on a breakaway in 20th minute and Shannon MacMillan rattled the cross bar from 30 yards in the 41st. Brandi Chastain also just missed a spectacular strike when her quickly taken free-kick from 35 yards out in the 26th minute flew just inches over the upper right corner of the goal.

In the 29th minute, Welsh played a one-two with Parlow at the top of the penalty area, then powered her way through New Zealand defender Maia Jackman and shoved her shot through the legs of the charging goalkeeper Yvonne Vale to make it 2-0.

Four minutes later, Parlow made it 3-0 after Wagner played a ball to her at the top of the box on the right side. Parlow lost the ball momentarily, but a New Zealand player played the ball back to her and she smacked a dipping 18-yard shot into the lower left corner.

Welsh was denied a third tally two minutes into the second half when her point-blank shot was cleared off the goal line by Zania Cogle.

Parlow got her second of the match in the 52nd minute to make it 4-0. On a swift sequence in which MacMillan danced her way through the New Zealand defense and then played wide left to Slaton, who crossed back on the ground to the near post where Parlow’s first shot was well-saved by Vale. The ball bounced back to Parlow and she stroked the rebound into the left side of the net from six yards out.

In the 56th minute, Hamm ran down a ball in the left corner, drew Jackman to her and then cleanly nutmegged an over-committed defender. Hamm dribbled straight down the end line almost to the goal post before playing a short pass in the slot for Parlow to jam into the roof of the net from four yards out. Parlow upped her career international total to 36 goals.

"We've been working really hard on possessing the ball, playing quickly and making chances appear rather than forcing them," Heinrichs said. "I was very pleased to score nine goals against Canada and five tonight. What was most impressive after the Canada game was that all nine goals were assisted, which was indicative of unselfish and thoughtful play. We saw that against New Zealand as well.

"This is a testing ground for us," added Heinrichs. "If we can score goals and have confidence, as coaches, we can create an environment where they are happy, creative, enjoying themselves and playing with a lot of passion. Then we feel we can run at any team in the world."

China, which also rested numerous starters, overcame a scrappy Japanese team to win 2-0 and hold onto first place. Australia did not show the same magic it did against China, falling to Canada, 2-0.

United States 5, New Zealand 0

Lineups: United States - Siri Mullinix, Brandi Chastain, Danielle Slaton, Christie Pearce, Sara Whalen, Nikki Serlenga, Aly Wagner, Shannon MacMillan, Christie Welsh, Cindy Parlow, Mia Hamm (captain). New Zealand - Yvonne Vaile, Jane Simpson (Terry McCahill 53), Jill Corner, Melissa Ruscoe (Alisse Robertson 63), Nicky Smith, Wendi Henderson - captain (Tarah Cox 80), Simone Ferrara, Amanda Crawford, Rachel Oliver (Maia Jackman 16), Vicki Ormond (Zania Cogle 45), Marlies Oostdam.

Scoring:
United States - Welsh (Hamm) 11.
United States - Welsh (Parlow) 29.
United States - Parlow (unassisted) 33.
United States - Parlow (unassisted) 52.
United States - Parlow (Hamm) 56.

Shots: United States 36, New Zealand 0. Saves: United States 0, New Zealand 11. Corner kicks: United States 15, New Zealand 1. Fouls: United States 11, New Zealand 5. Offside: United States 0, New Zealand 0. Yellow card caution: New Zealand - Ruscoe 10.

Referee:Sheena Storrie (Australia). Referee assistants: Tracey Griffiths (Australia), Elizabeth Mast (Australia). Attendance: 3,947 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in Sydney, Australia. Weather: Clear, cool, 55 degrees.

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