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  • Monday, July 3, 2000

    China dumps Canada in Gold Cup action

      FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- For the Canadian women's soccer team, the big games this year weren't about victories. They were about progress.

      There was more evidence of a team on the rise the last two weeks as Canada finished fourth in the inaugural Gold Cup. They lost to China 2-1 in Monday night's third-place game, but it was the third time this year the Canadians had given the World Cup runners-up a surprisingly tough game.

      "We play even against the best teams in the world, and it's surprising we can do that," said Even Pellerud, the former Norway coach who took over the rebuilding project in Canada earlier this year. "We are almost now able to compete with them."

      Qiu Haiyan, taking advantage of a moment of confusion in front of Canada's goal, got the game-winning score in the 73rd minute. Goalkeeper Nicole Wright was late coming off the line for a long pass chipped by Pan Lina into the box, and the ball caromed among Wright and teammates Amy Wash and Breanna Boyd before landing at Qiu's foot for the easy shot.

      Jin Yan scored in the 42nd minute for China. Charmaine Hooper tied it with a penalty kick in the 59th minute.

      Canada defeated China on penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie in the Pacific Cup in Australia last month and lost 3-2 to China in Gold Cup group play last week.

      Monday's match effectively ended Canada's major tournament play for the year. The Canadians didn't qualify for the Olympic Games, but they will give the United States one of its final Sydney tune-ups in Kansas City on Aug. 20.

      "The good thing is we learn with each game played against these teams," Pellerud said. "We are very soon there."

      The third-place finish for China reflects another disappointment in its buildup to the Olympics. The Chinese finished third in the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March and second in the Pacific Cup.

      Shui Qingxia, filling the playmaker's role in place of injured midfielder Sun Wen, set up with China's first goal with a nice feed to Jin on the left side. Wright was unable to cut off the angle, and Jin outpaced a defender and left-footed the ball into the net for her fourth goal of the tournament.

      Hooper tied the game after she was tripped in the box by Bae Jie inside the box. Hooper then converted the spot kick, her sixth goal of the tournament.

      Chinese coach Ma Yuanan said Sun's knee injury, along with injuries to several other players, kept his team from playing its best.

      "The team's performance today is not a top level," Ma said.

      Meanwhile, Tiffeny Milbrett scored in the 44th minute as the U.S. won its fifth title of the year, beating Brazil 1-0 in the championship game.

      After the game, coach April Heinrichs said what has become obvious: Mullinix has surpassed injured World Cup hero Briana Scurry as the team's top goalkeeper.

      "I think we all get a sense that Siri Mullinix is playing big-time soccer," Heinrichs said. "The decision as to who is our No. 1 goalkeeper right now is easy."

      The United States, building toward the Olympics in Sydney in September, won the Australia Cup in January, the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March, the U.S. Women's Cup in May and the Pacific Cup in Australia last month. The team is 17-3-3 this year and is unbeaten in 42 games (41-0-1) in tournament play on home soil since 1990.

      "Winning is the icing on the cake," Heinrichs said. "The process, the journey, the growth that we've been able to have during the course of the games is what's going to take us one step closer to being the single best team that we can be when it really matters, at the Olympics. ... We have a confidence against any team in the world."

      Brazil and the United States played to a 0-0 draw at this same stadium in group play last week. The result tied the two teams at the top of the standings, and the U.S. team won a coin toss immediately after the game to decide the seeding for the semifinals.

      Monday's rematch, before 20,123 at Foxboro Stadium, was one of those classic 1-0 one-sided soccer games.

      Milbrett scored with a classic one-touch 12-yard shot, her 76th international goal in 147 appearances.



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