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Gator All-Americans Heather Mitts (left) and Abby Wambach are part of the U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster

Wednesday July 13, 2011U.S. Moves to World Cup Final with 3-1 Win Over France; Past Gator Abby Wambach Provides Game-Winner


Gator All-Americans Heather Mitts (left) and Abby Wambach are part of the U.S. FIFA Women's World Cup roster

With the match tied at 1-all, past Gator All-American Abby Wambach again scored a clutch header in the 79th minute to put the U.S. up for good, as the U.S. Women’s National Team advances to Sunday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Final with a 3-1 victory over France in Wednesday’s first semifinal. This will be the U.S.’s first appearance in the World Cup final since its 1999 win in Pasadena.

FIFA Women’s World Cup – Semifinal Results

July 13

Sweden 1, Japan 3

July 13

USA 3, France 1

In a match played in misty rain, Lauren Cheney scored the first goal and assisted on the Wambach winner, while 22-year-old Alex Morgan scored her first career Women’s World Cup goal with the third and final tally of the day.

"France played very well, but there's something to be said about our players and their heart," said U.S. Women's National Team head coach Pia Sundhage. "There's a reason why these players come off the bench and make a difference because this team is 21 players and I'm very proud of them. At times, we didn't play well today, but we found a way to win. Credit to the players’ heart and that's what makes it so wonderful to coach for this team.”

In Case You Were Wondering…

Abby Wambach, Florida’s career leader in goals (96) and points (242), has used her head to score two huge goals in the last two U.S. matches. Her goal in the 122nd minute versus Brazil sent the match to penalty kicks where the U.S. prevailed 5-3 and her goal in the 79th minute in the semifinal versus France was the game-winner.

Scoring headers has long been a talent for Wambach. Her first collegiate goal in her 1998 Gator debut came off her head. Of her 96 collegiate goals, 35 came off headers.

The U.S. now travels to Frankfurt to face Japan in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final on Sunday, July 17, in Frankfurt at 2 p.m. ET live on ESPN, and Galavision. The U.S. will be seeking its third title, while Japan, which defeated Sweden 3-1 in tonight’s other semifinal, will be looking for its first championship.

Post-match Quotes from Abby Wambach

On feelings after the win against France:
“First of all, I want to thank France, their team and their coach. They are one of the best teams soccer-wise that we have played. They have a fantastic way of attacking, and it is an exciting game to watch. Sonia Bompastor is a friend of mine, and I think she is one of the best left backs in the world. It was a privilege to take the other side of the field against a great French team. However, our team has this ability to fight through adversity. Our team has this ability to stick together when the going gets rough. I couldn’t be more excited, more proud. I know we have a lot of friends and family here. I know we have a lot of friends and family back home that are watching and supporting us. We can’t do it alone. We know a whole nation is cheering us on. We believe in ourselves, and we are in the final. I couldn’t be happier.”

On going into her first Women’s World Cup final:
“In the last 10 minutes getting the go-ahead goal was a relief. Alex Morgan came on and made a difference scoring that third goal and giving us security. When the final whistle blew, the first thought I had was one more game. Yes, it’s a final, but the degree in which we will approach it is the exact same. It’s a game. It’s 90 minutes, hopefully. We want to go out and play good soccer and play the kind of game we know we can play. It doesn’t matter who we play against. We believe that we’ll be the team left standing because we have that belief in each other. It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to be something that we will have to work for. In the end, we will see what happens.”

On scoring many head goals:
“Obviously there is a lot of courage that goes into heading the ball. I have a unique ability to be able to predict the flight of the ball and my teammates also have a unique ability of finding me. There’s two parts to scoring on set pieces like we do with head goals and the very first and most important component is having a good service. Lauren Cheney has been doing fantastic for us on corner kicks. I’m glad to get the chance today because we believe that we were stronger in the area than the French team.”

On her goal against France:
“I looked at Cheney and as she told me in the locker room just now, ‘Your eyes looked like they were bug-eyed because you were looking at me like just serve the ball to me.’ I told her at halftime to put the ball at the back post and we were going to get a goal. That’s all I was thinking. As soon as the ball went up in the air, I was thinking to just get a head on it. I think I was pretty close to the back post, ran into it in fact, and I’m just glad to have gotten that goal. It was a reliever.”

On the this team in her generation:
“That’s something that’s really cool about this team, because you’re seeing it in terms of the generation that is the changeover from that 1999 generation and that 1999 World Cup team. Nothing to take away from them because obviously what they did was special. What they did gave us the opportunities that all of us have here, and even players from different countries, by putting women’s soccer literally on the world stage and the world map. With the success of the Women’s National Team in the United States, we believe that we set a standard for other federations to put money into their programs and you can see that by this semifinal against France. Who knew that France was going to be such a great team? I think some of the 1999 World Cup players probably would say they knew because they were the ones that put in the hard hours. We’re kind of reaping the rewards of the things they’ve done and this generation, this team, we believe in ourselves like the 1999 World Cup team did and that’s the historical thing that goes on with this team. To have the belief in each other, to never quit no matter what goes on in the 90 minutes or 120 or 123 minutes. It doesn’t matter. This generation is cool because we want to make a name for ourselves. We want the next generation to be ours. I talk about Alex Morgan coming on and getting her first World Cup goal. You can mark my words that she will have many World Cup goals. She’s a talented young player to come in and get that third goal is amazing. For me, I like to give everyone else credit because it’s easier that way, it’s more fun that way. It’s a team sport, and that’s why we do this. I love my job and I love the fact that we’re in a World Cup and now we’ve achieved part of our goal. We are in the final and we want to complete it. Like Hope said (earlier in the week), we want our story book ending. We want to keep the momentum from the Brazil game and this game going forward and whoever we face in the final, we want to be world champions.”

On a gray, rainy day at Borussia Park in Moenchengladbach the U.S. had a bright start, scoring the game’s first goal in the ninth minute with Cheney starting and finishing the play. France cleared a header to midfield, where Cheney took a settling touch to Shannon Boxx who immediately played the ball wide left to Amy LePeilbet.

The U.S. left back played the ball up the sideline to Carli Lloyd, who after a miss-touch toward the middle of the field, played a cheeky back heel further down the wing to Heather O’Reilly. O’Reilly immediately used her speed to get toward the end line, playing a left-footed cross that Cheney redirected out of the air and inside the back post following a 50-yard run into the six-yard box.

Despite the early U.S. advantage, France show its immense talent in the midfield, creating a 25-11 advantage in shots and while controlling the middle portion of the game that saw Les Bleus take the game to the Americans with some dynamic attacking play. The U.S. defense, which included Becky Sauerbrunn making her Women’s World Cup debut in the place of the suspended Rachel Buehler, held strong and, despite the disparity in shots, played a strong game as a unit.

In the 29th minute, France ran at the U.S. backline with Louisa Necib playing the ball wide right for Gaetane Thiney who was in alone against Hope Solo. As Solo charged out to her right to cut down the angle, Thiney tried the chip but the U.S. goalkeeper stuck up her right arm knocking the ball out for a corner with her biggest of seven saves on the day.

Four minutes later, Necib played a simple pass on a free kick to Bombpastor who nearly equalized for a French side growing in confidence. After a U.S. foul on France’s left wing, Necib dropped the ball back for the French left back who hit a left-footed blast from top edge of the 18-yard box that rattled the crossbar.

Wambach twice had chances to put the U.S. up by two going into the half, but could not turn a cross from a long run forward by Christie Rampone on goal from a tight angle in the 38th minute. One minute later, Boxx had Laura Georges sliding the wrong way before delivering a near post cross that Wambach put just wide of the post.

The second half opened with France pressing and Necib feeding Thiney in behind Ali Krieger, but the combination of a bad touch by the French forward and some hustle by Krieger prevented a shot. Ten minutes later, however, France would finally break through.

The equalizer was set up by French captain Sandrine Soubeyrand, who switched the ball from right to left, finding Bombpastor in space on the flank. Thiney started a run into the center of the area and Bombpastor picked her out. The cross, however, sailed just over Thiney’s head and, with Solo staying in position anticipating the header, skipped once on the slick surface before setting inside the back post.

With the game now tied, Sundhage made a pair of changes. The first saw Morgan come in for Amy Rodriguez in the 56th minute, and nine minutes later Megan Rapinoe replaced Carli Lloyd. With Lloyd going off, Lauren Cheney slid centrally alongside Boxx in the middle while Rapinoe started patrolling the left flank from which she set up the game-tying goal in the quarterfinals.

The changes paid dividends with the U.S. finding a rhythm and slowly start to hold more possession in the midfield. Rapinoe started the play that resulted in a corner kick to set up the winning goal when she snagged a poor clearance from goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz and whipped in a cross from the left. Wambach and Bombpastor fell in the area as the cross went to O’Reilly, who won the corner.

Cheney lofted her cross from the right side to the far post, where Wambach charged to bury a towering header in the net from inside the six-yard box. The goal was good for a 2-1 lead and was Wambach’s 12th in the Women’s World Cup, tying her for third all-time with Michelle Akers, who holds the U.S. record. The assist was Cheney’s third of the tournament, most of any U.S. player.

With France still smarting from Wambach’s strike, Alex Morgan used her pace and deft finishing ability to give the U.S. a two goal cushion in the 82nd minute. Amy LePeilbet slid the ball away from pacey French winger Elodie Thomis and Rampone quickly played the ball forward where Wambach was waiting. Her header found Rapinoe, who stabbed with her right foot to play a ball into space for Morgan. The ball took a deflection off Georges, but nonetheless Morgan let the ball take her wide, waited for Sapowicz to go down and delicately arced her left-footed chip over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Another former Gator All-American, Heather Mitts, is also part of the U.S. roster, but did not play Wednesday.

They will try to become the third Gators to hoist the World Cup, as past Gator All-American and NCAA career points and goals leader Danielle Fotopoulos was part of the U.S. 1999 World Cup team.

- U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report -  

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. France
Date: July 13, 2011
Competition: 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Semifinal
Venue: Borussia Park; Monchengladbach, Germany
Kickoff: 6 p.m. local / Noon ET
Attendance: 25,676
Weather: Light rain; 58 degrees

Scoring Summary












USA – Lauren Cheney (Heather O’Reilly) 9th minute
FRA – Sonia Bombpastor (Sandrine Soubeyrand) 55
USA – Abby Wambach (Lauren Cheney) 79
USA – Alex Morgan (Megan Rapinoe) 82

USA: 1-Hope Solo; 11-Ali Krieger, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Amy LePeilbet; 9-Heather O’Reilly (17-Tobin Heath, 87), 7-Shannon Boxx, 10-Carli Lloyd (15-Megan Rapinoe, 65), 12-Lauren Cheney; 8-Amy Rodriguez (13-Alex Morgan, 56), 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 5-Kelley O’Hara, ,14-Stephanie Cox, , 16-Lori Lindsey, , 18-Nicole Barnhart, 21-Jill Loyden
Not Eligible: 19-Rachel Buehler (suspension)
Head coach: Pia Sundhage

FRA: 16-Berangere Sapowicz; 11-Laure Lepailleur, 4-Laura Georges, 5-Ophelie Meilleroux, 8-Sonia Bompastor; 6-Sandrine Soubeyrand (capt.) (12-Elodie Thomis, 78), 15-Elise Bussaglia; 10-Camille Abily, 14-Louisa Necib, 17-Gaetane Thiney; 18-Marie-Laure Delie (9-Eugenie Le Sommer, 46)
Subs not used: 1-Celine Deville, 21-Laetitia Philippe, 2-Wendie Renard, 3-Laure Boulleau, 7-Corine Franco, 13-Caroline Pizzala, 19-Sandrine Bretigny, 20-Sabrina Viguier
Head coach: Bruno Bini

Statistical Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 11 / 25
Shots on Goal: 5 / 8
Saves: 7 / 2
Corner Kicks: 5 / 11
Fouls: 12 / 10
Offside: 2 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
FRA – Elodie Thomis (caution) 90th minute

Referee: Kirsi Heikkinen (FIN)
Assistant Referee 1: Tonja Paavola (FIN)
Assistant Referee 2: Anu Jokela (FIN)
Fourth Official: Yolanda Parga Rodriguez (ESP)

Bud Light Woman of the Match: Abby Wambach

Information from USA Soccer used for this report


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