U.S. soccer team continues dominant run to final | July 5, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - July 5, 2019

U.S. soccer team continues dominant run to final

Former Stanford standout Christen Press puts U.S. on top with early goal

by Rick Eymer

Former Stanford All-American Christen Press took advantage of her opportunity.

Press and Alex Morgan, celebrating her birthday, each scored in the first half for the Americans, who have won a record 11 consecutive World Cup matches, defeated England 2-1 in the FIFA Women's World Cup semifinals on Tuesday in Decines-Chappieu, France.

The U.S. advances to its third consecutive final Sunday at 8 a.m. against Netherlands, which edged Sweden 1-0 in overtime.

Press, who started in place of Megan Rapinoe, who sustained a slight hamstring strain, put the U.S. ahead 1-0 in the 10th minute on a header off a perfectly placed long crossing pass from former Cardinal teammate Kelley O'Hara.

"I always say we have multiple starters at multiple positions," coach Jill Ellis said. "I knew and trusted she would be ready for the moment."

Press was also part of Morgan's goal as he took a long pass and sent it along to Lindsey Horan, who served it up to Morgan in the box.

The British tied the match in the 19th minute and had a goal in the second half taken off the board because of an offside call.

Becky Sauerbrunn was issued a yellow card for tripping inside the box and England was awarded a penalty kick in the 84th minute.

Goaalkeeper Alyssa Naeher dove right, smothered the ball to her chest and saved Team USA's victory.

In an earlier game,Rapinoe scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over host France in the quarterfinals, never backing down from a staunch effort by the French nor from the controversy resulting from her outspoken and unfiltered expression of political views.

"It's everything you want," said Rapinoe. "A good, healthy hostile crowd. Our fans were amazing but they were no match for the blue fans. There was so much energy in the stadium and France had a lot of the ball so that energized their fans. We didn't have the best night on the ball, but the focus defensively, the discipline to do what we did is tremendous."

Two members of that defensive unit are Menlo Park resident and Sacred Heart Prep graduate Abby Dahlkemper and former Stanford All-American Kelley O'Hara, the Cardinal's all-time leading scorer when she left The Farm. Tierna Davidson, another former Stanford and Sacred Heart Prep standout, also has added to the stellar defensive showing. She started the match against Chile and played a strong game, contributing two corner kicks to the attack.

France scored its goal with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation and Dahlkemper just missed redirecting the header to safety.

Notably, it's what wasn't seen that made the difference. The hard work, the support system and the unity of the back line clearly helped neutralize an outstanding French offense.

"That's the most intense match I've ever been a part of," said Ellis, who helped recruit Dahlkemper to UCLA but left to join the national team before getting the chance to coach her there. "They have superb players, coaches, so it was very special. Our whole back line was tremendous; there was a lot they had to deal with."

Crystal Dunn marked French forward Kadidiatou Diani, essentially eliminating her from the equation. Julie Ertz, Sauerbrunn, O'Hara, Dahlkemper, Samantha Mewis and Naeher were solid against a relentless French attack.

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