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U.S. women

Tarpley's first two goals, another by Boxx beat Sweden 3-0 in China's Four Nations Tournament.

SHENZHEN, China (Friday, January 30, 2004) -- The United States women opened 2004 with a decisive 3-0 triumph over Sweden in the Four Nations Tournament opener for both nations before an estimated 3,500 at Shenzhen Stadium today.

Midfielder Shannon Boxx scored in the first half while midfielder Lindsay Tarpley added her first two international goals after intermission for the Americans. The U.S. finished third in the 2003 Women's World Cup; the Swedes second.

"I think you saw during the course of the game that both teams were playing their first game of the year," U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. "Perhaps the fitness and the first touch weren't as sharp as they could have been. But considering the respect we have for Sweden, it was a great result for us and we are pleased to start our year this way."

In today's other match in this round-robin event, China edged Canada 2-1. The U.S. faces China here Sunday and closes with Canada Tuesday.

Sweden played without star forward Hanna Lundberg, sidelined with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. American striker Mia Hamm and defender Brandi Chastain chose not to make the trip to China.

Boxx's goal off a corner kick was remarkably similar to the one she scored against Sweden in the World Cup opener, a 3-1 U.S victory. Midfielder Kristine Lilly drove a cross to the far post where Boxx shook her mark, jumped at the left corner of the six-yard box and headed the ball back across the goal and over the head of a defender who had vacated the post. The ball dropped into the right corner to give the U.S.a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute. It was Boxx's fifth international goal in 10 games.

"The team did very well for our first game of the year," American defender Joy Fawcett said. "We made some mistakes, but it's January. We got a lot of players in and the some young players played very well. Anytime you beat Sweden, it's a good win."

While Sweden looked the aggressor when the halftime whistle blew, the U.S. took over after the break. Tarpley, who had 24 goals for the American under-19s and two more for the under-21s, made it 2-0 in the 51st minute. Midfielder Julie Foudy sent a long, looping pass into Sweden's penalty area where striker Abby Wambach held off her defender and nodded a header in the path of an advancing Tarpley who drilled a first-time left-footed half volley from 21 yards into the lower left corner past goalkeeper Sofia Lundgren.

"It was just a great feeling to score for the national team and contribute to a big win on this level," said Tarpley, making her eighth appearance on the senior level. "Sweden is a very good team, they are physical and have a really good sense of the game. It was a great team effort to score three goals."

It was Boxx that created the chaos in the Swedish defense that led to the third goal, blasting a left-footed volley off the left post from 27 yards out. She The ball bounced back to the top of the penalty area where it was poorly cleared. Foudy gained possession and passed to Lilly who played it to overlapping defender Kate Markgraf (nee Sobrero) on the left flank. Markgraf beat a defender with a nifty stop-and-go move, then spun and made a perfect cross to the near post where Tarpley powered a header into the net from four yards for a 3-0 advantage in the 66th minute.

"She had a great game for us as a young player stepping in and starting at the attacking center midfield role," said Heinrichs of Tarpley. "She kept possession, changed the point of attack, created a couple of opportunities for herself and obviously finished two. Those are qualities we feel that position has to have, the pass has to be dangerous as well as the player herself."

Although the U.S. outshot Sweden 15-8, keeper Briana Scurry came up big when she was called upon. In the 50th minute, she snagged a tough cross from Victoria Svensson, then made a stellar flying save of the Swedish forward's blistering 30-yard free kick in the 57th minute, pushing the ball over the crossbar at the top right corner of the net.

"There were moments when the score was 1-0 and Briana kept us in the game. when Sweden was having the run of play," Heinrichs said. "Briana played tremendously today."

Three U.S. substitutes had chances to add another goal in the final minutes . Nineteen-year-old striker Heather O'Reilly got in behind the defense, won a tackle against a defender, and rounded the goalkeeper, only to cut her angle too sharp to shoot. O'Reilly appeared in her first match with the U.S. since she broke her left leg on June 14 in a preparation match for the Women's World Cup.

Midfielder Leslie Osborne, who along with defender Amy LePeilbet picked up their first career caps with the full national team, had a header cleared off goal line by a Swedish defender. In stoppage time, midfielder Angela Hucles broke behind the defense on a breakaway, but mishit her shot.

United States 3, Sweden 0

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Kate Markgraf, Joy Fawcett, Cat Reddick (Amy LePeilbet 69), Christie Rampone (Heather Mitts 46), Shannon Boxx, Julie Foudy (Leslie Osborne 66), Lindsay Tarpley (Angela Hucles 75), Kristine Lilly, Shannon MacMillan (Tiffany Roberts 46), Abby Wambach (Heather O'Reilly 58). Sweden - Sofia Lundgren, Hanna Marklund (Kristin Bengtsson 31), Jane Törnqvist, Karolina Westberg, Sara Thunebro, Frida Nordin, Therese Sjögran, Anna Sjöström (Linda Danlgvist 78), Frida Östberg (Linda Fagerström, 63), Victoria Svensson (Salina Olsson 68), Josefine Öqvist.

United States - Boxx (Lilly) 13.
United States - Tarpley (Wambach) 51.
United States - Tarpley (Markgraf) 66.

Shots: United States 15, Sweden 8. Shots on goal: United States 9, Sweden 5. Saves: United States 4, Sweden 6. Corner kicks: United States 8, Sweden 4. Fouls: United States 7, Sweden 7. Offside: United States 4, Sweden 4. Yellow card caution: United States - Boxx 56.

Referee: Zhang Dongqing (China) Referee assistants: Fu Hongjue (China), Chen Tanxin (China). Attendance: 3,500 (estimated) at Shenzhen (China) Stadium. Weather: Warm, hazy, humid, 64 degrees.

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