U.S. Women fall to Germany in cup

Posted: Monday, October 06, 2003

PORTLAND, Ore. There will be no World Cup repeat for the American women, no triumph before a raucous home crowd.

Spectacular goalkeeping by Silke Rottenberg, a brilliantly executed corner kick and two late goals gave Germany a 3-0 semifinal victory over the defending World Cup champion United States on Sunday.

Kerstin Garefrekes' header off Renate Lingor's corner kick glanced off the crossbar and into the net in the 15th minute, then the Germans withstood one U.S. threat after another.

Maren Meinert, the MVP of the WUSA last year in its final season of existence, scored in the match's final minute, then German star Birgit Prinz punctuated the win with a goal just before the end of extra time.

Germany will play the winner of Sunday night's Sweden-Canada match for the World Cup title next Sunday in Carson, Calif. The United States will face the other semifinal loser for third place.

''We brought our 'A' game in terms of the attacking,'' U.S. coach April Heinrichs said. ''That's a great team we played.

''I've got to think that maybe this was the greatest game ever played in women's soccer.''

It was the second World Cup loss ever for the United States and first since it was beaten by Norway in the 1995 semifinals. The Norwegians went on to beat Germany for the championship.

The tournament was originally scheduled to be held in China, but was moved to the United States because of a SARS epidemic.

The stage seemed set for a U.S. repeat as the Americans advanced through a tough group and a difficult 1-0 quarterfinal victory over Norway.

Germany, meanwhile, rolled through its preliminary competition, outscoring its opponents 20-3 going into the semis.

Mia Hamm, the American superstar who will retire after next year's Olympics, repeatedly set up potential scores, only to have them fall apart in front of the German net.

She sent a perfect feed to Shannon McMillan in the 74th minute, leaving the American forward one-on-one with the German goalkeeper. But her shot sailed high over the net.

The last gasp for the Americans came on Hamm's corner kick in the 89th minute.

But the ball fell harmlessly to the ground and the Germans kicked the ball out of danger, ending any chance the Americans may have had.

When it was over, Hamm and her teammates could not hold back the tears.

She pulled her shirt over her head, then later hugged teammate Joy Fawcett and finally clapped her hands over her head in appreciation of the capacity crowd at PGE Park.



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