U.S. women reach Peace Queen Cup final

November 2, 2006

SUWON, South Korea -- Defender Cat Whitehill beat five players to score in injury time Thursday as the United States defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in the women's soccer Peace Queen Cup to set up an all-North American final with Canada.

The Americans' win was soured by a red card to Kristine Lilly about 10 minutes before the end of the match and an ankle injury to Abby Wambach.

The United States finished atop Group B in the inaugural invitational tournament with seven points after tying Denmark and beating Australia 2-0.

Denmark, also with seven points, trails the United States on goal difference after only mustering a 2-1 win over Australia later Thursday. The Danes needed to win by four goals to steal the group lead and advance to Saturday's final.

The Americans now face Canada in a friendly tuneup for both ahead of 2007 World Cup qualifiers later this month. Canada reached the final Wednesday after eliminating Brazil, Italy and South Korea to keep a perfect record.

Lindsay Tarpley gave the Americans the lead in the 27th minute.

Whitehill sealed the win in the second minute of added time when she beat two defenders and drilled the ball past three more to score from the edge of the penalty area.

United States coach Greg Ryan said he was more than happy with the result but said Wambach would likely miss the final.

"It went better than I expected," he said. "We put a new starting line up to give Abby and Lilly some rest. And we ended up with two goals. We missed some chances in the second half and it changed because of Lilly's red card and Abby's injury."

Despite Lilly's red card, she will still be eligible for the final as there are no suspensions in this friendly tournament.

The Netherlands pressed early and squandered an early opportunity when Sylvia Smit's shot sailed over the crossbar from close range in the 11th minute.

United States goalkeeper Hope Solo almost conceded a goal late after fielding a shot with her legs that nearly bounced around her and in before she caught it.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press