Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pia Sundhage Departs to a Triumphant Win

Article by Leanne Elston

In Pia Sundhage’s last game in charge of the USWNT, the US ladies beat Australia Wednesday night by a triumphant 6-2 scoreline.

The match took place in Denver, Colorado at the Colorado Rapids’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in front of 18,589 fans. The win took Sundhage’s record as USWNT coach to 91-6-10; it was also the US’ 23rd (14th straight) win in 2012.

The US opened the scoring in the 25th minute when Heather O’Reilly struck off a pass from Alex Morgan, who worked hard to collect the ball in the box and get it to O’Reilly. With a little help from a deflection off a defender, O’Reilly’s shot was in the back of the net, giving the US the lead.

Australia would take the reins next, however. The Matildas’ goalscorer from Sunday’s match, Lisa de Vanna, managed to beat Hope Solo once again in the 32nd minute. De Vanna slipped a low shot through to the far post after a quick counterattack and assist from Clare Polkinghorne. Then in the 34th minute, Sarah Walsh, who ended her prolific international soccer career with this match, scored to put Australia ahead. When Stephanie Catley’s cross got in behind Kelly O’Hara, Walsh was there to send it home at close range.

Morgan brought the US level on 43 minutes. Some good combination play got the ball to Morgan, who made no mistake about bringing the score to 2-2 with a left-footed shot from inside the penalty area.

The teams went into the locker room at halftime tied with two goals apiece, but the US would soon turn the game on its head. In the 53rd minute, Abby Wambach scored what surely is one of the stranger goals of her career. Wambach provided the deflection that sent a Morgan effort bouncing into the back of Australia’s net. Morgan herself got her second of the night ten minutes later, beating two defenders and keeper Brianna Davey in the air to head home a Heather Mitts cross.

Shannon Boxx gave the US their fifth goal in the 69th minute when she scored off a Megan Rapinoe corner kick. Boxx was left unmarked at the back post and made sure to put her strong header on target.

Rapinoe played a role in the US’ final goal of the game as well, sending in a free kick that Sydney Leroux got her head to. Leroux’s diving header gave an emphatic end to a match in which the US once again asserted their dominance in international soccer.

The USWNT plays Germany on 20 October at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois.


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