Sunday, November 10, 2002

Women's soccer: U.S. 2, Canada 1

By Ken Peters
The Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. - All-time leading scorer Mia Hamm chipped a shot over goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc 3:34 into overtime to lift the United States to a 2-1 victory over Canada in the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup championship game Saturday.

Hamm, who has 136 national team goals and ranks as the top scorer ever in women's international soccer, leaped in the air in joy when her kick floated over the charging LeBlanc and into the net.

A beaming Hamm then sprinted to the right corner and slid into the flag, with her teammates rushing over to pile on.

Aly Wagner set up the winning goal in the game's 94th minute with a header that led Hamm, who beat defender Breanna Boyd to win the ball. Hamm then lofted the ball from 18 yards to give the United States the title in the game played before a crowd of 6,911 on a rainy, foggy evening at the Rose Bowl.

Heavy afternoon rain stopped before the title game began, but there was a drizzle early in the contest, then thick fog rolled in as the contest neared halftime. By the time the second half began, however, both the fog and rain had cleared.

Although the United States is 24-3-2 against Canada, the young, up-and-coming Canadians had gone 2-2-1 against the U.S. team in their last five meetings heading into the Gold Cup showdown. The Canadians also were the last team to beat the United States in a U.S. stadium, a 3-1 victory two years ago. The United States is 16-0 in "home games" since then.

By simply reaching the final in what served as the regional qualifying, both the United States and Canada already had assured themselves berths in the 2003 World Cup in China.

Mexico, meanwhile, kept its hopes for a World Cup berth alive by beating Costa Rica 4-1 in the third place game that preceded the title showdown.

After Tiffany Milbrett's goal in the 27th minute gave the Americans a 1-0 lead, Canada evened it on Charmaine Hooper's goal in first-half stoppage time.

Hooper got her seventh goal of the tournament on a pinball-like play that began with Silvana Burtini's corner kick. Canada's Andrea Neil headed the ball to teammate Christine Sinclair, whose shot deflected off Hooper toward goalkeeper Briana Scurry.

Scurry slid forward and tried to kick the ball away, but instead rolled it right to Hooper. She kicked the ball over the sprawling Scurry, tying Sinclair and Milbrett with a tournament-high seven goals.

Milbrett scored her goal earlier in the game on a left-footed volley off a centering pass from Kristine Lilly. Breaking down the left side, Lilly was near the touch line just outside the penalty box when she threaded a pass between two defenders.

Milbrett, right in stride and a half-step ahead of Burtini, fired a hard, high shot that sailed into the top of the net for her 95th national team goal.

Maribel Dominguez scored two goals in Mexico's victory. Teammate Monica Gonzalez scored the first goal and Iris Mora snapped a 1-1 tie in the 37th minute as the Mexicans kept their hopes alive for a World Cup berth.

By finishing third in the Gold Cup, Mexico can still earn a World Cup berth in a home-and-home playoff against an Asian team yet to be determined.

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