A soccer match between the United States
CATANIA, Sicily (AP) _ A soccer match between the United States and Italy turned ugly at the University Games Tuesday, with a player from each team expelled for fighting before the hosts came through with a shorthanded victory.
Despite playing the final 30 minutes with just nine players on the field, Italy defeated the Americans 1-0 to reach the championship game.
U.S. athletes were more successful elsewhere Tuesday. The men’s basketball team recorded its 100th University Games’ victory, including the last 30, and American swimmers won five swimming medals, including golds by Suzanne Black and the women’s 800-meter freestyle relay team.
Nnenna Lynch picked up the first U.S. medal on the track, winning the 5,000 meters in 15 minutes, 47.61 seconds.
At Palermo, Italy and the United States were tied 0-0 at the end of the first half when Italy’s Eduardo Gorini and America’s Scott Vermilion were expelled for fighting. Then, 15 minutes into the second half, Italy lost another player for two quick yellow cards.
But just three minutes later, the hosts _ urged on by 12,000 supporters _ got a penalty kick when Caleb Porter pushed Michele Zeoli from behind in the area, and Gianni Califano, Italy’s most active player on attack all game, calmly converted.
``We knew if we played well, the crowd would appreciate us,″ said U.S. coach John Ellinger, whose squad plays Ukraine in the consolation game. `` I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. They are warriors, competitors. Come Friday, they will put everything they have into the bronze medal match.
Italy will face defending champion South Korea in Friday’s final. The Koreans beat Ukraine 5-3 on penalties after regulation ended scoreless.
Italy and the United States will meet in the basketball quarterfinals after the U.S. men beat South Korea 94-64, behind 18 points from Earl Boykins of Eastern Michigan. Italy eliminated Nigeria 70-49.
The United States led all countries with five medals at the pool, including golds by the women’s freestyle relay team and by Black, who took the 800 freestyle in 8:45.82.
In track, Olympic champion Balazs Kiss, coming off a disappointing season, easily defended his hammer title. The Hungarian, fourth at the world track championships earlier this month, won with a throw of 260 feet, 7 inches.
Meanwhile, a top FISU official said Tuesday that last-minute scrambling by Italian organizers managed to keep organizational problems to a minimum.
While ticking off trouble areas including housing, transportation and communications, FISU secretary general Roch Campana said Sicily ’97 has come off smoothly overall at the midway point.
``Generally, we can be satisfied. The organizing committee has in the last three months worked in a typically Italian fashion, and that means miracles. They’ve figured things out that are normally difficult to realize in such a short time,″ Campana said. ``I’ve been a little bit nervous the last three months.″
The games have been viewed by many as a measure of Italy’s ability to put on a major sports event. Rome is one of five finalists to host the 2004 Olympics, and the IOC will pick a site Sept. 5 _ just five days after the Sicily event closes.