Saturday, October 11, 2003

Americans want a winning ending


But Canada stands in way of 3rd place

The Associated Press

CARSON, Calif. - Once a pushover, Canada now is a formidable foe for the United States women's team, which hopes to conclude its disappointing World Cup with a decisive third-place victory today.

The last time the Americans were in this position, in 1995, they beat China 2-0 for the bronze medal. A year later, they won the Olympics. Three years after that, the United States took its second World Cup.

It's a precedent the U.S. team hopes to repeat.

"It's huge," goalkeeper Briana Scurry said of taking third place. "It would give some pride of actually getting something tangible out of this. We've worked so hard for the better part of two years and we've got to come away with a good feeling and know we gave our best."

The U.S. women are 25-3-3 against the Canadians and have a 112-34 edge in goals.

But recently, under Norwegian coach Even Pellerud - who guided Norway to the '95 title - Canada has become a force. In this tournament, it won a World Cup game for the first time, then stunned China to make the semifinals.

Sweden eliminated the Canadians 2-1 with a late rally and will face Germany in Sunday's final. The Germans beat the United States 3-0 in the other semifinal.

"They are tough, physical, and they go after it," Scurry said of the Canadians. "What they might lack in the ability to possess the ball they make up for in grit, effort and hard work.

"They're riding high and I am sure they like nothing better than to be playing us. They're running on adrenaline, and to play us is the cherry on top for them."

Indeed, several Canadian players emphasized that, short of facing the Americans in the final, this is a dream matchup for them.

"We're happy we're playing for the bronze medal," midfielder Diana Matheson said. "It will be a tough game. The U.S. are big rivals. We always play each other hard.

"I think this game is just for pride, especially for the U.S."

That's why U.S. coach April Heinrichs will play her regulars, many of whom could be appearing in their final World Cup game. Heinrichs is certain she will get the same kind of effort today that she always has from Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly and Scurry, the core veterans of the squad.

"We want to walk on to the field and go after our opponent and bring closure to this event, holding our heads high," Heinrichs said.

For Hamm, it will be her last World Cup match. After next summer's Olympics, she plans to retire.

Of course, she didn't plan on going out in a third-place match, but that's the situation and she will make the best of it.

"You're on the World Cup team and you're a professional, and that's the way you play," she said. "I won't get to represent the U.S. in the World Cup again. I owe it to all those people ... who supported me to do that."




PREP SPORTS
Elder 28, St. Xavier 7
Princeton 14, Lakota East 7
Conner 29, Dixie Heights 16
Colerain 44, Hamilton 24
Wyoming 40, Deer Park 13
Turpin 54, Goshen 13
Reading 38, Indian Hill 32 (3OT)
Winton Woods 16, Loveland 15
Roundup of Friday's other Ohio games
Roundup of Friday's other Kentucky games
Scores, how poll teams fared
Bacon's Zeller trails by 7 at state
CovCath finishes third in state
Friday's results
Today's schedule

REDS / BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
Allen completes interviews
NLCS: Cubs 5, Marlins 4 (11)
Pedro vs. The Rocket
Damon back in Red Sox lineup today
Boston businessman to purchase Dodgers

BENGALS / NFL
Bengals' Graham landed on his feet
Injured girl's family sues league

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Guidugli, UC fighting for balance
Bucks braced for big battle
Clarett sues Ohio State, seeks $2.5M in damages
MU offense aims for 40-plus points vs. lowly Buffalo
Soldier trades war nightmares for college football dream
Panthers wary of 1-3 Irish
Michigan's rally stuns Gophers
Major games, major stakes

GOLF
Verplank, Flesch tied for lead at 23-under par

NBA
Bryant case strategy shifts

SOCCER
Americans want a winning ending

MOTOR SPORTS
Kenseth's recent struggles have field gaining ground

ON THE AIR
This weekend's sports on TV, radio