Despite lackluster performance, women's soccer team in quarters



The Americans tied Australia without scoring threat Abby Wambach.
THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) -- The Americans knew they didn't have to win, and they played like it.
Add in the small crowd, the benched scoring threat and the lopsided history against the opponent, and it all made for a humdrum 1-1 tie Tuesday for the U.S. women's soccer team against Australia.
"Our pride is something we take seriously," coach April Heinrichs said. "And we want to always find ways to win. I think on the whole we were dissatisfied with our performance."
Meeting the minimum
The Americans had already secured a berth in the quarterfinals with 3-0 and 2-0 wins over Greece and Brazil, and they needed only a tie to clinch first place in their group. The higher seeding lets them avoid an extra road trip, allowing them to stay in Thessaloniki to play Japan on Friday.
"This team never likes to tie or lose," captain Julie Foudy said. "It's disappointing in that sense, but we're moving on to the quarterfinals. We're first in our group. We'll put some things together and make sure for the quarters we play two halves."
The Americans dominated the first half, scoring on Kristine Lilly's sliding volley off Foudy's cross in the 19th minute. But they had no answer when Australia inserted a second striker and turned on the pressure over the final 30 minutes.
"We lost control of the game," Heinrichs said.
Joanne Peters' tying goal seemed inevitable. Her header into the top right corner of the net in the 82nd minute ended 17 years of futility for the Matildas, who had gone 0-15 against the Americans since the teams started playing each other in 1987.
"To achieve this result is incredible," Australia coach Adrian Santrac said. "It gives credibility to the game in Australia."
Australians advance
The Australians qualified for the quarterfinals with the tie, although they would have advanced anyway because of Brazil's win over Greece.
Peters' goal energized what had been a quiet game in Kaftanzoglio Stadium, where just 3,320 fans sat among 26,200 seats. The only sense of atmosphere was supplied by three Australians in face paint, raising the familiar chant of "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!"
For the Americans, the player who seemed to take the result the hardest wasn't allowed on the field. Abby Wambach, who has scored 16 goals in her last 17 games, was sorely missed as she served a one-game suspension for rough play.
"It's heartbreaking. I want to kick myself," said Wambach, who received two yellow cards in the first two games. "It was hard to take."
Three-time Olympian Cindy Parlow started for Wambach, but she wasn't able to command the same attention or finish her scoring chances. As a result, Mia Hamm was constantly double-teamed.
"I couldn't hit the broad side of the barn," Parlow said.
Wambach's height and power will be useful against the smaller, more technical Japanese, who also have never beaten the U.S. team. Japan is 0-13-3 in the all-time series, although the last three games have been ties.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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