July 24, 1999
Winnipeg, Canada - Brazil's quick counter-attack and swarming defense stifled the U.S. women during an 8-6 victory Saturday during preliminary play at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada. Though Team USA had a significant size and experience advantage, Brazil was able to keep the U.S. defense off balance with 3-on-2 breakaways and darting runs up the middle leading to point-blank goals.
"It was a really poor effort, physically, mentally and emotionally," UCLA and USA coach Guy Baker said. "We came out and scored the first goal, and I thought we'd go from there. You have to give Brazil credit, though. They never let our offense get control of the game."
Each touch of the ball by a U.S. player brought at least one Brazilian defender forward for a quick foul, stalling any attempt for fast ball movement and taking valuable seconds off the clock. Only after one such expulsion foul did the U.S. get on the board at the 4:43 mark in the first when UCLA's Coralie Simmons gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead with a bullet from the right wing.
From there, it was all Brazil. Three unanswered goals, two on soft lobs by Cristina Beer, put Brazil up 3-1, leading to margins of 5-2 and 7-4 with 6:25 remaining in the game.
The U.S. fought back late in the fourth with a press & steal defense, showing Brazil a new look by attacking at mid-pool. The new approach caught Brazil off guard, leading to two quick goals at 1:50 and 1:18 remaining. Heather Moody's steal led to a 2-on-1 breakaway and a point-blank goal by Rachel Scott to bring the U.S. within two at 7-5. Another steal by Simmons led to an expulsion foul on Brazil and a breakaway goal for Courtney Johnson of the U.S. with a minute remaining.
Two possessions later, Simmons's aggressive defense earned an untimely expulsion. The U.S. defense held tough for the 20 seconds, but as the team transitioned back to even strength, Brazil's Camila Pedrosa squeaked a shot past USA's Bernie Orwig to seal the victory.
"We were tested on offense. Most of the game, we were down by two goals," Baker said. "We didn't get into the flow of the game until the last five minutes. We could have put this one away then, but we got the call against us, they scored, and it was over."
Alisa von Hartitzsch led the U.S. with two goals, giving her four for the tourney and a team-high 57 percent efficiency rating. Team USA recorded 18 steals in the match, including five by Johnson, four for Simmons and three for Moody.
The United States has no time to rest. A rematch with World Cup victor Canada is on tap for 10:15 p.m. Sunday. The U.S. lost 6-4 to Canada in May's World Cup, giving Canada the automatic Olympic berth for the Americas. Canada defeated Cuba 15-4 Saturday.
"It'll be easy to get up for the game against Canada," Moody said. "It's such a rivalry. We beat them 6-5 in prelims at the World Cup, then lost to them in the final round. There's an element of revenge, and also we know they're playing at home, in front of a home crowd. We're definitely going to have to come in better prepared than we were today."
Scoring Summary Team 1 2 3 4 Total United States (blue) 1 2 1 2 6 Brazil (white) 2 3 1 2 8
Goals USA: von Hartitzsch 2, Simmons, Swail, Scott, Johnson. BRA: Beer 3, Pinciroli 2, Pedrosa 2, Secches.
GK Saves/Shots: USA: Orwig 6/14 BRA: Graner 7/13