January 27, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) and the Canadian women’s team both won berths in the 2012 London Olympics by defeating their respective rivals in the semifinal of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament. The U.S. women now advance to their fifth straight Olympic Games.
“It qualifies us for the Olympics and it’s a great feeling,” said striker Abby Wambach. “No matter what the score line is I think everybody could kind of feel how big that game was.
In the first half we scored a goal but I think there were moments where Costa Rica was outplaying us. It shows you exactly how important this was to all of us that nobody wanted to make a mistake.”
The USA defeated Costa Rica 3-0 and Canada defeated Mexico 3-1 at BC Place, Vancouver. The crowd of 22,954 for the Canada-Mexico match set a CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying attendance record.
The USWNT will now face Canada on Sunday to vie for their third straight CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament title. The match takes place January 29 and will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. ET.
Tobin Heath started the scoring, heading in a rebound from a set piece in the 16th minute. The goal was Heath’s second in the tournament and third for the USWNT. Carli Lloyd doubled the differential in the 72nd minute for her sixth goal of the tournament and 28th overall. In the 89th minute, Alex Morgan, who came on in the 63rd minute, pushed the score to 3-0 with her 10th career goal.
“Every game I try to come in and make an impact,” said Morgan. “We were up 1-0 and that’s a very shaky score.
I wanted to come in and try to kill the Costa Rican’s confidence a bit more by stretching out their backline and making runs. Luckily we got a few more goals after that.”
Kelley O’Hara got her first-ever start at right back after she recorded three assists in her first game at left back on January 21 versus Guatemala.
With the result, the USA improved to 4-0-0 for 2012, outscoring opponents by a 34-0 margin.
After Sunday’s championship, the USWNT will break before regrouping in Texas to train for the friendly with New Zealand on February 11 at FC Dallas Stadium.
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Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Date: Jan. 27, 2012
Competition: 2012 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament – Semifinal
Venue: BC Place Stadium; Vancouver, Canada
Kickoff: 5 p.m. PT
Weather: Indoors; 72 degrees
USA – Tobin Heath (Shannon Boxx) 16th minute
USA – Carli Lloyd (Abby Wambach) 72
USA – Alex Morgan 89
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 19-Rachel Buehler, 3-Christie Rampone (capt.), 6-Amy LePeilbet; 9-Heather O’Reilly (8-Amy Rodriguez, 70), 10-Carli Lloyd, 7-Shannon Boxx (15-Megan Rapinoe, 80), 12-Lauren Cheney, 17-Tobin Heath (13-Alex Morgan, 63); 20-Abby Wambach
Subs not used: 2-Heather Mitts, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 14-Sydney Leroux, 16-Lori Lindsey, 18-Nicole Barnhart
Head coach: Pia Sundhage
CRC: 18-Erika Miranda; 5-Diana Saenz (17-Adriana Venegas, 87), 6-Karol Sanchez, 8-Daniela Cruz, 19-Fabiola Sanchez, 20-Wendy Acosta, 7-Mariela Campos, 16-Katherine Alvarado, 4-Fernanda Barrantes (12-Lixy Rodriguez, 65), 10-Shirley Cruz (capt.) (15-Cristin Granados, 90), 11-Raquel Rodriguez
Subs not used: 1- Julieth Arias, 2-Saudy Rosales, 9-Carolina Venegas, 14-Marianne Ugalde
Not eligible: 3-Yendry Villalobos
Head coach: Karla Aleman
Statistical Summary: USA / CRC
Shots: 29 / 10
Shots on Goal: 8 / 7
Saves: 7 / 5
Corner Kicks: 6 / 1
Fouls: 14 / 12
Offside: 2 / 1
CRC – Fabiola Sanchez (caution) 4th minute
Referee: Irazema Aguilera (CUB)
Assistant Referee 1: Shirley Perello (HON)
Assistant Referee 2: Patricia Pacheco (SLV)
4th Official: Gillian Martindale (BRB)
Bud Light Woman of the Match: Carli Lloyd