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Women's World Cup

MacMillan, Venturini make most of starts in 3-0 win over N. Korea.

By Gary Davidson

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (Sunday, June 27, 1999) -- Shannon MacMillan and Tisha Venturini made the most of rare starts tonight.

MacMillan, a striker, scored the first goal, then twice set up midfielder Venturini for beautiful headed tallies as the United States completed a perfect 3-0 Group A record in the Women's World Cup with a 3-0 victory over North Korea before 50,484 at Foxboro Stadium.

The United States will play Germany Thursday night in the quarterfinals at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover, Md.

With advancement to the quarterfinals virtually assured, U.S. coach Tony DiCicco chose to rest four starters. MacMillan, a hero for the U.S. 1996 Summer Olympics gold medalist, replaced 1999 Tiffeny Milbrett. Venturini, a starter in the 1995 World Cup and part of the 1996 Olympics gold-medal run, lost her job when Michelle Akers moved from the front line to midfielder. With Akers resting, Venturini received a rare start.

"We just did a great job as role players today," said defender Sara Whalen after being elevated to the starting 11. "We know our job right now isn't necessarily to be a starter or be like major players in the game. But coming in today and Tisha getting two goals and Mac (Shannon MacMillan) getting MVP. Myself and TR (Tiffany Roberts) doing a good job in the back, that's really important for us. I don't think necessarily it will push other players to work even harder, but it will give our team the confidence to know that no matter what the other team gives us, we'll have the players to work with it."

Still, it wasn't until U.S. coach Tony DiCicco inserted two of his starters -- midfielder Julie Foudy and Milbrett, did the American attack show life.

MacMillan gave the United States a 1-0 lead in the 56th minute, taking a cross from midfielder Julie Foudy at the top left corner of the penalty area and hitting a low shot on one hop into the near corner.

Two minutes later, Foudy set midfielder Kristine Lilly in the penalty area, but the midfielder's 15-yard shot banged off the left post.

North Korea immediately counterattacked and striker Jin Pyol Hui rattled the American crossbar with an 18-yard shot in full stride.

Then it was Venturini's turn to remind fans she was once considered one of the most fearsome players in the world going for balls in the air.

In the 68th minute, U.S persistence paid off. Lilly carried along the right perimeter of the box before lofting a cross to the other side of the penalty area. MacMillan centered back to the goal mouth where Venturini went face first to the ground to nod home a shot with keeper Yun Il Sil just inches from grabbing it.

Eight minutes later, MacMillan sent a cross that Venturini headed in from eight yards for a 3-0 lead, punctuated by her crowd-pleasing double-flip.

"My jaw went down to my knees. I had no idea. I said 'Where the hell did you pull that one from?' " Foudy said. " She said, 'I'm a gymnast, Jules.' I said, 'Get out of here!' It was so fantastic. That's what I said after the game. I'm so happy for her. Coming from a starting role to her role that she has now, she's never once complained about it. She's an ideal teammate and such a great person, so it's wonderful to her to do like that, because I think she is one of the greatest scorers in the world. Tish has a knack of being at the right place at the right time."

Venturini was unavailable for comment. She was one of the two random players on each team selected for drug testing. "She scores two goals, they think she's using drugs," DiCicco joked.

U.S goalkeeper Briana Scurry was tested on three occasions. In the 38th minute, she had to back-pedal quickly, then leap to tip away Jin's lofted shot for the far corner. An American miskick in the 50th minute allowed Korean Jo Song Ok a breakaway, but with three defenders on her tail, she hit her shot directly at the keeper. And moments after Venturini's first tally, Scurry made her best saves of the night, twice stopping Jo Jong Ran from point blank range.

The United States managed three hard shots in the first half, but all three were easily in the reach of the goalkeeper, who could not catch any, but was not subjected to any rebound attempts.

"I think we played a great game. North Korea's a great team and we shouldn't take anything away from them. They played back and had most of their team behind the ball. It took patience. It's a great credit to Julie (Foudy). She came in and took control as well and Tiffeny (Milbrett, another former Portland star and MacMillan's teammate) came in and sparked us, but I think it as coming. Not to take anything away from them, but I think the team was playing and it was just a matter of time.

Gary Davidson is managing editor of SoccerTimesand can be e-mailed at info@soccertimes.com.

First Round
Group A

United States 2
North Korea 0
United States - MacMillan (1) (Foudy) 56;
United States - Venturini (1) (MacMillan) 68;
United States - Venturini (2) (MacMillan) 75.

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Sara Whalen, Tiffany Roberts (Christie Pearce 73), Brandi Chastain, Cindy Parlow (Julie Foudy 46), Tisha Venturini, Kristine Lilly, Shannon MacMillan, Mia Hamm (Tiffeny Milbrett 46); North Korea - Yun In Sil, Jo Song Ok, Kim Sun Hui, Kim Sun Hye, Sol Yong Suk, Ri Hyang Ok, Kim Kum Sil, Kim Hye Ran, Ri Ae Gyong (Yang Kyong Hui 71), Jin Pyol Hui (Jo Jong Ran 61).

Shots: United States 24, North Korea 9. Saves: United States 5, North Korea 5. Corner kicks: United States 7, North Korea 1. Fouls: United States 11, North Korea 14. Offside: United States 0, North Korea 2. Yellow card caution: North Korea - Kim Sun Hye 8, Jo 24, Kim Kum Sil 74; United State - none.

Referee: Katrina Elovirta (Finland). Assistant referees: Maria Roman Rodriguez (Mexico), Mary Cleidy Nunes Ribeiro (Brazil). Attendance: 50,484 at Foxboro Stadium, in Boston, Mass. Weather: Humid, 89 degrees.

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