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Women's Gold Cup

Serlenga’s three goals propel United States to 8-0 rout of Costa Rica.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Sunday, June 25, 2000) -- The United States won its second straight mismatch, pounding Costa Rica 8-0 in a Gold Cup Group A match before 7,043 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium this afternoon.

The U.S. (2-0), which sat five starters from Friday’s 11-0 humiliation of Trinidad & Tobago, closes group play Tuesday against Brazil at Foxboro Stadium near Boston at 8 p.m., a match that will be televised by ESPN. Brazil (2-0) beat T&T 11-0 today, meaning the winner of Tuesday’s contest wins Group A. Since both teams have score 19 goals and conceded none in their two group matches, in case of a tie, a coin flip will determine the winner, though both teams advance to the semifinals.

Nikki Serlenga
Midfielder Nikki Serlenga was moved into the starting midfield and responded with three goals. U.S. coach April Heinrichs also gave starts to Sara Whalen on the front line, Susan Bush in the midfield, defender Danielle Slaton and goalkeeper Jen Branam. The 19-year old Bush dished off for four consecutive assists in the second half.

"It's very difficult to come back after scoring 11 goals against Trinidad & Tobago on Friday and put on a similar performance," said Heinrichs. "But it's tribute to the individual and team discipline, and the commitment to pursue excellence, that we came after them today.

"We want to develop the team and individuals between now and the Olympics. We want to give players playing time, but as much as our coaches like to think that players are learning on the bench, they don't learn nearly as much as they do playing on the field. We've really tried to pursue winning games and tournaments, but never at the price of player development. Come next month and August, we'll start focusing more on results as our players will be very played in by then."

Almost the entire match was played in one end of the field, the American attacking zone. The U.S. outshot its opponent 39-4 and Branam was called on for only one simple save.

The U.S. went ahead 1-0 in the 11th minute when Whalen settled a loose ball in the penalty area and touched a pass back for Serlenga, who struck a sizzling half-volley from 17 yards out into the left corner.

One minute later it was 2-0. Whalen beat several defenders while dribbling laterally across the top of the penalty box before toe-poking a short pass to midfielder Shannon MacMillan, who cracked the ball into the left corner with the outside of her right foot from 17 yards.

In the 22nd minute, striker Cindy Parlow got behind the defense on the right wing and played a cross on the ground to the trailing Bush, who spun her first-time shot into the left corner from four yards for a 3-0 lead.

Nineteen-year old Christie Welsh entered at halftime and added two goals. She smacked Bush's cross from the right side into the net from five yards in the 47th minute to make it 4-0.

Serlenga then completed her hat trick with goals in the 53rd and 64th minutes, both strikes from considerable distance and both on passes from Bush for a 6-0 bulge

"It felt great to play a full game and get in the rhythm," Serlenga said. "To get the goals is an added bonus, but everyone loves to get the chance to perform and contribute to winning on this team."

The Americans finished with two goals in a three-minute span. Bush created her fourth consecutive assist by playing a quick one-two with Whalen on the right side of box to pop free behind the defense, then cut the ball back to Welsh, who pushed her shot into the left corner in the 81st minute. It was Welsh's 11th goal in just 14 games as she reached 10 career goals faster than any player in U.S. history.

Whalen got the final tally in the 83rd minute after taking a pass from Julie Foudy before spinning around her defender at the top of the box and ripping a bending ball with her left-foot into the upper left corner to increase the margin to 8-0.

Every time we step out on the field as the United States team we have players in all positions that can play a role and be the centerpiece of the game for us," Heinrichs said. "Sometimes our young players struggle with the fact that there are so many good players on the team. It can be a difficult position when they are playing next to 10 or 11 of the best players in the world. But with a lot of players getting some playing time today, and performing well, we are trying to push several little buttons that will help players' confidence and development."

Brazilian forward Katia found net seven times in her team’s rout.

United States 8, Costa Rica 0

Lineups: United States - Jenni Branam, Christie Pearce, Joy Fawcett (captain), Kate Sobrero, Brandi Chastain, Nikki Serlenga, Lorrie Fair (Julie Foudy 46), Shannon MacMillan, Susan Bush, Sara Whalen, Cindy Parlow (Christie Welsh 46). Costa Rica - Marie Clarie Herra, Kattia Madriz, Jessica Murcia, Laura Palma, Heylin Barrantes, Xiomara Briceno (Karina Lopez 32), Ericka Castro, Xinia Contreras (captain), Emilia Carmona, Nubia Duran (Jayaira Aguilar 35), Jacqueline Alvarez.

United States - Nikki Serlenga (Sara Whalen) 11th minute.
United States - Shannon MacMillan (Sara Whalen) 12.
United States - Susan Bush (Cindy Parlow) 22.
United States - Christie Welsh (Susan Bush) 47.
United States - Nikki Serlenga (Susan Bush) 53.
United States - Nikki Serlenga (Susan Bush) 64.
United States - Christie Welsh (Susan Bush) 81.
United States - Sara Whalen (Julie Foudy) 83.

Shots: United States 39, Costa Rica 4. Saves: United States 1, Costa Rica 7. Corner kicks: United States 12, Costa Rica 1. Fouls: United States 11, Costa Rica 3. Offside: United States 4, Costa Rica 6. Yellow card caution: United States - MacMillan 32.

Referee: Charline Samson-Ras (Aruba). Referee assistants: Denise Robinson (Canada), Kimberly Chalmers (Canada). Attendance: 7,043 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky. Weather: Sunny, very humid, 85 degrees.

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