Aug. 8, 1999
REYKJAVIK, Iceland - The United States Under-21 Women's National Team reclaimed the Nordic Cup title with a dramatic 2-1 sudden-death overtime victory over Norway as 18-year old Lauren Orlandos (Univ. of Portland/Lake Forest, Calif.) scored the "golden goal" six minutes into extra time. The defender's first goal of the tournament clinched the come-from-behind victory and gave the USA the championship of the world's top competition for Under-21 women.
The winning goal came from a short corner kick taken by Michelle French (Univ. of Portland/Kent, Wash.), who touched the ball to Susan Bush (North Carolina/Houston, Tex.) and then got it back. French then drilled a cross with her left foot into a scrum of players inside the penalty box. The 5-foot-10 Orlandos won the battle, getting her foot on the ball to knock it into the net from close range, ending the game and igniting a massive celebration from the U.S. players.
"It was an awesome moment and the end of a great experience, especially because I am one of the younger players." said Orlandos, who will be a freshman at Portland this fall. "We have so many great players that contributed to winning this tournament and I'm still a little shocked that I got the golden goal."
The win avenges a loss to Norway in last year's Nordic Cup title match and made it two out of three years that the Americans have claimed world bragging rights for youth women's national teams, also beating Norway in the final on a golden goal in 1997 in Denmark.
"Our objectives were met, which is always very satisfying because they are so high," said U.S. Head Coach Lauren Gregg. "There are many players who have developed in this program who will be part of our full national team for the years to come. And they have learned what it means to be part of this program, to be champions. I'm extremely proud of this team."
Like all USA-Norway clashes, the match was combative and hard fought from start to finish, with end-to-end play producing chances for both teams. Norway hit the crossbar twice in the first half, including once at the stroke of halftime. Just eight minutes into the game, a sliding Jen Streiffer (Notre Dame/Baton Rouge, La.) narrowly missed knocking Meredith Florance's (North Carolina/Dallas, Tex.) cross into an open net.
The USA was 15 minutes from losing after Norway drew first blood in the 75th minute when a cross from the left side bounced around in front of the net and substitute Randi Bjorkestrand shot from five yards out. U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix (North Carolina/Greensboro, N.C.) was able to get a hand on the ball but could not keep it out of the net.
It was the first goal allowed by the USA in the tournament, but the Americans rallied to equalize just five minutes from the end of regulation. The goal sequence came from a cross by 17-year old Aleisha Cramer (Colorado Rush/Lakewood, Colo.). Norway tried to clear the ball, but Streiffer got her head on the poor clearance and poked it into the net at the near post for her third goal of the tournament.
Regulation ended with the scored tied 1-1, but six minutes and one shot by Orlandos later, the USA had its Nordic Cup title. The USA has lost just one match in its age group in international competition since Gregg took over the program three years ago.
"Jen Streiffer and Aly Wagner did a great job holding the ball for us," added Gregg. "It is difficult to get a rhythm against the Norwegians. Those two were instrumental in our win. But the defense of French, Slaton, Orlandos, Fair and Mullinix again had an outstanding game. Norway was very dangerous and we held them to our lone goal for the tournament."
The Nordic Cup triumph completed an unprecedented "triple" for the U.S. Women's National Teams program. The full national team is coming off the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup victory while the Under-18 Women's National Team won the Pan Am Games gold medal last week with a 1-0 victory over Mexico.
In the other placement games, Sweden had a fine day, picking up the bronze medal with a 1-0 victory over Finland to add to its Under-18 European Championship also won today. Denmark beat Iceland, 4-3, for 5th place and Germany hammered Australia 4-0 for 7th place.