Norway 3, United States 2
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ Playing with a new coach and a new contract, the U.S. women’s soccer team on Sunday was a long way from its World Cup glory.
The Americans gave up two goals in the last 10 minutes and lost 3-2 to Norway, souring the debut of April Heinrichs as coach of the team that captivated the nation last summer.
The U.S team played without several members of the 1999 World Cup-winning squad: Michelle Akers, Lorrie Fair, Cindy Parlow and Tisha Venturini.
The Americans are preparing the Sydney Olympics, and this exhibition was their first game since they signed a new contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation and ended a boycott that had kept them from a tournament in Australia.
Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly scored for the Americans. The goal was Hamm’s 115th of her career, extending her record for international goals by a man or woman.
Norway’s winning goal came in the first minute of injury time. Dagny Mellgren beat goalkeeper Saskia Webber from 25 yards to the top left corner of the net.
Following the victory, the Norwegians bowed before their small group of fans.
Heinrichs, the star of the 1991 World Cup team that beat Norway in the championship game, replaced Tony DiCicco last month. She has seven months to put together a team for the Sydney Games.
Heinrichs went with several young players Sunday. The move gave the rookies valuable experience, but it might have cost the Americans the game.
Norway opened the scoring with a penalty kick in the 19th minute by Hege Riise. Nandi Pryce, 17, tried to backpass to Webber. The weakly played ball was intercepted by Norway’s Marianne Pettersen, forcing Webber to come out and foul Pettersen.
After the misplay, Pryce put both hands over her mouth in disbelief.
The U.S. team tied it in the 25th minute on spectacular plays by Shannon MacMillan and Hamm.
MacMillan kept the ball from going out of bounds with a back heel pass that slipped past Norway’s Brit Sandaune. MacMillian spun, caught up to the ball and delivered a perfect cross to the mouth of the goal. A diving Hamm headed the ball over goalkeeper Bente Nordby.
Lilly’s unassisted goal in the 71st minute put the Americans ahead 2-1.
But in the 81st minute, Webber misplayed a long pass from Anita Rapp. The ball went into the net, an own-goal by Carla Overbeck.
The game appeared headed for a tie until Norway _ the only team with a winning record (12-10-1) against the U.S. squad _ scored on the long shot by Mellgren.
At the time of the winning goal, the Americans had two 17-year-olds, two 18-year-olds and a 19-year-old on the field.