Work in Sports
Heinrichs' debut spoiled
Norway tops U.S. women 3-2 on extra-time goal
Posted: Monday February 07, 2000 09:08 AM
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- The U.S. women's soccer team has a new coach, a new contract and several new players.
What it needed Sunday was some of the old magic.
The Americans gave up two goals in the last 10 minutes and lost 3-2 to Norway, souring the debut of April Heinrichs as coach of the team that captivated the nation last summer by winning the World Cup.
"We hate to lose, but this was the first game of our new system and there were new players and a new coach," Shannon MacMillan said. "This is something to build on. We can play better."
The U.S team -- which lost for the first time in 22 games -- played without several members of the 1999 World Cup-winning squad: Michelle Akers, Lorrie Fair, Cindy Parlow and Tisha Venturini.
"The United States has had a tough time over the last months. Don't put too much into this match," Norway coach Per Hogmo said. "It was a good win. We beat the best team the United States has at the moment."
The Americans are preparing for the Sydney Olympics, and this exhibition was their first game since they signed a new contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation and ended a boycott that had kept them from a tournament in Australia.
Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly scored for the Americans. The goal was Hamm's 115th of her career, extending her record for international goals by a man or woman.
Norway's winning goal came in the first minute of injury time. Dagny Mellgren beat goalkeeper Saskia Webber from 25 yards to the top left corner of the net.
"Bummer. It really was," Heinrichs said. "The assistant coach turned to me and said, 'They didn't earn that. We gave it to them.' At times you have to have humor and think of things like that.
"Every player made mistakes out there. How quickly we learn from them is what's important to me."
Following the victory, the Norwegians bowed before their small group of fans.
Heinrichs, the star of the 1991 World Cup team that beat Norway in the championship game, replaced Tony DiCicco last month. She has seven months to put together a team for the Sydney Games.
Heinrichs went with several young players Sunday. The move gave the rookies valuable experience, but it might have cost the Americans the game.
"A couple of players didn't play today we're accustomed to seeing," Heinrichs said. "We know the players. We've seen them play and know what they give and how they can compete in international matches. Seeing other players gave me the chance to evaluate them and see what their future is."
Norway's Hege Riise opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 19th minute. Nandi Pryce, 17, tried to backpass to Webber. The weakly played ball was intercepted by Norway's Marianne Pettersen, forcing Webber to come out and foul Pettersen.
After the misplay, Pryce pulled her shirt over her mouth in disbelief.
The United States tied it in the 25th minute on spectacular plays by MacMillan and Hamm.
MacMillan kept the ball from going out of bounds with a back heel pass that slipped past Norway's Brit Sandaune. MacMillan spun, caught up to the ball and delivered a perfect cross to the mouth of the goal. A diving Hamm headed the ball over goalkeeper Bente Nordby on the bounce.
Lilly's unassisted goal in the 71st minute put the Americans ahead 2-1.
But in the 81st minute, Webber misplayed a long pass from Anita Rapp. The ball went into the net, an own-goal by Carla Overbeck.
The game appeared headed for a tie until Norway -- the only team with a winning record (12-10-1) against the U.S. squad -- scored on the long shot by Mellgren.
At the time of the winning goal, the Americans had two 17-year-olds, two 18-year-olds and a 19-year-old on the field.
"We played a good game; the next one will be better," Lilly said. "We lost two games to China last year, but that's the level of competition. We don't mind getting those losses now."