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Lilly, O'Reilly ignite four-goal second-half rally to defeat Italy 4-0 and take Women's Cup.

CARY, N.C. (Sunday, October 6, 2002) -- Veteran midfielder Kristine Lilly and teen striker Heather O'Reilly scored off feeds from midfielder Julie Foudy, sparking a string of four goals in a 14 minutes midway through the first half, powering the United States to a 4-0 triumph over Italy and the Nike U.S. Women's Cup title this afternoon before 3,144 at SAS Stadium.

Despite a sloppy performance before intermission, the U.S. completed this tournament with a 3-0 record and is 24-0 in taking all eight U.S. Women Cups.

"We felt like we created enough chances in the first half to be up 4-0," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "Both teams played low pressure, but when we won the ball, we were getting behind them and creating chances. When you finish, you can jump all over an opponent early. When you don't, you'll have to grind it out over a 90-minute period."

The U.S. finally broke through in the 64th minute. Striker Mia Hamm touched a short left-side corner kick to Foudy who found crossed into the middle for a slashing Lilly who beat goalkeeper Fabiana Comin to the ball for a four-yard header into the near corner and a 1-0 lead.

Lilly tied Michelle Akers for second on the USA's all-time scoring list with 247 career points from 89 goals and 69 assists. Lilly is just 11 goals away from becoming just the fifth person to score 100 career international goals.

"The biggest difference between the first half and second half was that we went out and high-pressured them defensively," Heinrichs said. "Essentially, that means the game is going to get stretched out for both teams. But when both teams are stretched out, over a 90-minute game, I think the USA can hang with any team in the world."

In the 69th minute, Foudy received a ball with some time on the right flank and looped a cross to the far post for an unmarked O'Reilly and the 17-year-old high schooler hit a half volley six yards that skipped under Comin for her first career international and a 2-0 advantage.

"I've gone into other games and maybe had some chances and didn't put them away, and came away disappointed," O'Reilly said. "It was a great ball from Foudy and I'll had to do was tap it in. It is an awesome feeling."

Four minutes later, O'Reilly provided the assist to make it 3-0. A right-side corner kick flew to Foudy deep in the left side of the penalty area. Foudy headed the ball back into the middle where O'Reilly flicked it to Fawcett who, with her back to the goal, spun the ball with the outside of her right foot past Comin and into the net for her 26th career goal, the most all-time for an American defender.

O'Reilly "will do absolutely anything to help her team win," said Hamm of the U.S. under-19 world champion member who received the game ball after the match, signed by all of her teammates. "If that means sitting on the bench and cheering as loud as she can, she'll do it. But when she comes in, she's a spark for us no doubt."

Defender Brandi Chastain completed the scoring in the 78th minute with her third penalty kick of the tournament, called when Comin cut down Hamm. .

"You want to go after a team, but when you play a team that is content to roll the ball around the back, you just have to maintain the patience and focus," Hamm said. "Once we got the first one, the way we were possessing the ball, we felt confident that we could get more."

Hamm was awarded her third U.S. Women's Cup "Most Valuable Player" award, also taking the honor in 1995 and 1997.

"My feeling is that Mia has the potential to frighten every opponent and any defender," Heinrichs said. "We knew it would be a hot, heavy day and we knew Mia could spark us a bit off the bench, and she did. That's why we made the tactical choice not to start her and ask her to play 45 minutes."

United States 4, Italy 0

Lineups: United States - Siri Mullinix (Briana Scurry 46), Kate Sobrero (Tiffany Roberts 46), Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Danielle Slaton (Catherine Reddick 29), Kristine Lilly, Lorrie Fair, Julie Foudy, Angela Hucles (Heather O'Reilly 66), Shannon MacMillan (Mia Hamm 46), Cindy Parlow (Abby Wambach 46). Italy - Fabiana Comin (Carla Brunozzi 83), Giula Perelli, Pamela Conti, Valentina Boni (Margherita Masia 68), Elisa Camporese (Marina Pellizzer 78), Tatiana Zorri, Piera Maglio (Moira Placchi 91+), Alessia Tuttino, Patricia Panico, Rita Guarino, Chiara Gazzoli (Ilaria Pasqui 68).

Scoring:
United States - Lilly (Foudy) 64.
United States - O'Reilly (Foudy) 69.
United States - Fawcett (O'Reilly) 73.
United States - Chastain (penalty kick) 78.

Shots: United States 15, Italy 3. Shots on goal: United States 8, Italy 2. Saves: United States 2, Italy 4. Corner kicks: United States 6, Italy 0. Fouls: United States 10, Italy 19. Offside: United States 8, Italy 1. Yellow card caution: Italy - Zorri 62.

Referee: Sonia Denoncourt (Canada). Assistant referees: Sharon Wheeler (United States), Daniel Burak (United States). Attendance: 3,144 at SAS Stadium in Cary, N.C. Weather: Warm, clear, 80 degrees.

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