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Women's World Cup Final

U.S. wins the World Cup in shootout.

By Gary Davidson

PASADENA, Calif. (Saturday July 10, 1999) -- Following a Cinderella summer sojourn, the world champion United States women's soccer team is heading to Disneyland. After 90 minutes of regulation and 30 minutes of sudden death produced a scoreless tie, the U.S. defeated China 5-4 on penalty kicks Saturday to capture the Women's World Cup before a record 90,185 fans at the Rose Bowl.

Defender Brandi Chastain scored the deciding goal, ripping off her jersey - exposing a dark blue sports bra - and waving it to the ecstatic crowd. "It was a moment of insanity," Chastain said.

Goalkeeper Briana Scurry came up with the one save needed to produce the American victory, but if it weren't for the defensive heroics of Kristine Lilly in the first of two overtime periods, China would be taking the World Cup home.

In the 100th minute, China midfielder Liu Ying sent a left-side corner past the far post to Zhang Outing. Seven yards from the endline, Zhang beat Scurry with a looping header back toward the left corner. Lilly was the there to head the ball to safety, her momentum carrying her back into the net. Lying on the ground, Chastain was able to swing her left leg to knock the ball away.

No big deal, said Chastain. "Kristine Lilly did her job, nothing more, nothing less. We all have places where we're supposed to be and she was exactly where she was supposed to be."

Scurry, who saw her shutout and her team's dreams slipping away, had a different perspective as she dove to her right. "Unbelievable," she said. "Basically 'Oh, damn' was going through my mind because I knew it was by me and I knew it was low enough to be in the goal and all of a sudden, it comes flying over my head. Kristine was there like she always has been."

Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Lilly, Mia Hamm and finally Chastain were perfect from the penalty spot. In the third round, Scurry went quickly to her left to bat Liu's effort away. "Just looking at her, I thought this is the one I could stop," Scurry said. "Just the way she walked up."

Before the PKs, U.S. coach Tony DiCicco, who was the team's goalkeeping coach before taking the head job, gave Scurry a pep talk. "I just told her all she could be was a hero," he said. "There was no way she could be the goat. Briana is the hero."

Two teams known for their attacking styles wound up caught in a defensive struggle. American outside backs Fawcett and Chastain, who usually overlap up the flanks at will, instead seldom ventured out of the defensive end. "That's the way the game turned out," said U.S. defender Kate Sobrero. "They were passing so much, we had to keep those people back. We didn't get them as forward as we would have liked, but we played great defensively. It was just the way the game evolved."

China, which is particularly adept at moving numbers forward, seldom sent any support for forwards Sun Wen and Jin Yan. China had a 12-11 edge in shots over the Americans, but only eight shots were put on goal, five by the U.S.

"The only real save I made was the penalty kick," Scurry said. President Clinton attended the game and visited both locker rooms afterward. The crowd, the largest ever to witness a women's sports event, saw no goal, including the third-place match, won by Brazil, 5-4 over Norway in a tiebreaker after a scoreless draw. The celebrating American fans after the U.S. triumph didn't care.

The Americans, who add the 1999 title to their 1991 world championship and 1996 Olympic gold medal, will be honored Sunday morning with a parade through Disneyland, then head for an afternoon celebration at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

"It came down to us just not allowing us to lose," DiCicco said. "Making all five penalty kicks in a pressure cooker is not easy. (Penalty kicks) are not the best way to end a game, but I don't know a better way."

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

United States 0, China 0

United States 0
China 0

Shootout scoring:
China (4) - Huilin, Qiu, Zhang, Wen;
United States (5) - Overbeck, Fawcett, Lilly, Hamm, Chastain.

Lineups: United States - Briana Scurry, Carla Overbeck, Kate Sobrero, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain, Michelle Akers (Sara Whalen 91), Julie Foudy, Cindy Parlow (Shannon MacMillan 57), Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Tiffeny Milbrett (Tisha Venturini 115); China - Gao Hong, Fan Yunjie, Bai Jie, Wen Lirong, Wang Liping, Liu Ailing, Liu Ying, Zhao Lihong (Qiu Haiyan 114), Pu Wei (Zhang Ouying 59), Jin Yan (Xie Huilin 119), Sun Wen.

Shots: United States 11, China 12. Shots on goal: United States 5, China 3. Saves: n/a. Corner kicks: United States 6, China 4. Fouls: United States 5, China 3. Offside: United States 4, China 1. Yellow card caution: United States - Akers 74; China - Ouying 70, Ailing 80.

Referee: Nicole Mouidi-Petignat (Switzerland). Assistant referees: Ghislaine Peron-Labbe (France), Isabel Perez Assante (Peru). Attendance: 90,185 at Rose Bowl, in Pasadena, Calif. Weather: n/a.

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