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U.S. Under-20 WNT Women’s World Cup Semifinal Quote Sheet

U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Steve Swanson and several players discuss the team’s 2-0 semifinal victory against Nigeria and advancement to the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Final.

© Michael Janosz/isiphotos.com

Steve Swanson

IN THE IMAGE: U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Steve Swanson

U.S. U-20 WNT vs. Nigeria
2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup – Semifinal
Tokyo National Stadium; Tokyo, Japan
Sept. 4, 2012

U.S. head coach STEVE SWANSON
On the match:

“We’re obviously very happy to be moving on. It was a difficult match physically, certainly, and I thought Nigeria gave us all we could handle and more. It wasn’t pretty at times, but I thought our team getting that first goal was critical. Our team did well at times holding the ball against a very quick, fast, athletic team and getting that second goal made a big difference for us. We beat a quality opponent that has experience, which we are happy about as well, as that team has been to the finals before and has a lot of experienced players.”

On the team defending:
“We didn’t give up any goals against a team that is quite athletic. They can do a lot of things on the ball and are very dangerous. I thought our back four did very well, but overall, everyone played their part. I thought at times we did a good job of keeping possession and getting out away from our goal which was very important for us.”

On Samantha Mewis coming into the match and setting up the game-clinching goal:
“Sam Mewis has given us a big lift every time she’s come in in this tournament. She’s an experienced player and has been here before. I thought she did exactly what we needed her to do. Obviously, it was a physical game and it was hot and players were a little tired so I think that was a substitution we needed, for someone to come in and give us a lift and I thought she did that in the midfield. She can hold the ball quite well and she won some air balls and some tackles for us, but she’s been doing that all tournament.”

On using the lessons from the previous four games in getting the result against Nigeria:
“We needed to learn quickly. This level here at this tournament and teams that we’ve played has really tested us. Looking back at group play, that game against Ghana was obviously critical for us. Not only were we able to get the win, but we won by a significant margin which helped us get through. I am very proud of how our team has applied the lessons of the games. I don’t think we beat North Korea unless we have those three games ahead of that one, unless we go through what we went through against Germany. I think it strengthened our resolve a little bit. Nigeria was very dangerous, athletic and very good on the ball and I think that game against Ghana helped us get this result. Someone asked me before, ‘did you back in to the quarterfinals’ and I would say no, we earned our spot, we learned lessons, we applied them and we’ve gotten better and that’s a testament to the players.”

On Nigeria pressing hard for an equalizer at the beginning of the second half:
“At that point we are up so the onus is on Nigeria to get a goal to get back in the game. They did press and pushed players forward and I think the combination of just their athleticism and closing us down was difficult for us. At times we had a hard time possessing the ball and getting out of our end, but we made a couple of adjustments to our shape and that helped a little bit, especially after we got that second goal. You have to credit Nigeria for turning it up a notch when they had to, but our defense hung tough and kept their shape and we limited their dangerous changes.”

On Nigeria overall:
“Nigeria over the course of the last few tournaments has done exceptionally well. We knew it would be a difficult game and it was. They play with such a good style and they are very athletic. The first goal helped us and settled us down and in a game like this it always helps to get that first goal. There are some very good players in that team and I think they will do well down the road.”

On the match:
“I thought our team did a great job from front to back of keeping them in front of us and winning balls and being there to cover one another. We talked about how important it was to get good cover around the person pressuring the ball, but even when we did that, their speed was hard to handle at times. I thought we handled the air game very well, I thought our forwards did a good job of making themselves big so if we did clear the ball we could at least get some possession coming out of the back and I thought our midfielders worked their tails off all game long. We also got some good minutes from players off the bench, which was very important.”

On getting goals from two players that had yet to score in the tournament:
“That’s been the hallmark of our team is that a number of players can score. Morgan (Brian) certainly has been knocking on the door in some of these games and so has Kealia (Ohai), she’s been just fantastic in the energy she brings and the runs she makes. She’s been a provider, but it was nice to see her get a great goal. We take a lot of pride in our interchangeable parts, being able to get people to attack and we certainly like it when a lot of people score.”

On her feelings after the final whistle:

“I was so excited. I was screaming. I was about to cry. I was so emotional. I sat down (on the bench) and sighed in relief. I am just so excited that we got to the final. I think our team deserved it and it was awesome.”

On the match:
“I think we learned a lot from Nigeria. They are a very fast team and we saw that from the first run of play. We knew we needed to be smart and understand what type of game this was. We told each other that we didn’t want any goals against and we left it all on the field and I’m very proud of them.”

On the team showing tremendous heart deep into the tournament:
“Everyone had a role and effort was the first one. This is the fifth game we’ve played and fatigue can set it in in these kinds of games. We told each other before the game, no matter what, work hard for each other, work hard for yourself and work hard for this team and that’s what everyone’s mindset was and I think it really showed.”

On Kealia Ohai’s goal:
“When Kealia scored the goal I was so excited. There was a little relief, yes, as we had some cushion, but it was not like we were going to let off the gas at all. It just meant that we needed to be smarter now. I was so happy for her. She works so hard down the sideline.”

U.S. forward KEALIA OHAI
On making it to the U-20 Women’s World Cup Final:

“We always knew we could do it, but it’s surreal to us right now. We can’t wrap our heads around it. We’re so excited because we’ve worked so hard. We’ve been preparing for a year and half and so finally it’s here. It’s so real and we’re so ready.”

On Nigeria:
“They were awesome. They were really dangerous. We knew they would be really fast so we tried to stay compact on defense and they stretched us at times, but we finished some good chances and we’re going to the final.”

On her goal:
“Both teams were countering so everyone was pretty stretched. Sam Mewis had just gotten into the game and she’s awesome, she’s had so many assists this tournament. I just saw an opening and she played a perfect ball and I took a touch and scored. It was awesome.”

On scoring in a Women’s World Cup semifinal:
“You can’t explain in words how amazing it feels. I remember we were watching when Sydney Leroux scored her first (Olympic) goal and we’re just like, ‘that has to be the most amazing feeling’ and it really was. It’s just amazing.”

U.S. midfielder MORGAN BRIAN
On the match:

“We had a good start to the game. We had possession and we had a couple chances we could have put away. As the game wore on, after we scored, it was just about defending well and finishing our chances when we got them.”

On Nigeria:
“Nigeria was good. They were different than any team we played. In the beginning, they were kind of like Ghana, but they were faster, quicker, better on the ball and kept better possession.”

On the team defense:
“I think we defended really well and we did good job of limiting their outside shots as they shoot from distance very well. Our possession could be better and hopefully it will be next game.”

On making it to the U-20 Women’s World Cup Final:
“It’s a great feeling going to the World Cup Final. We’ve put so much hard work and effort on the field and it’s great to see it all come through in making it to the final game.”

On her goal:
“Mollie (Pathman) and I have this thing were we connect. I know when she has time and gets the space that she’s going to find me on the back post.  She played it and I was there. I hit the post on a header in the first game so I wanted to put that one away.”

Source Article from http://www.ussoccer.com/News/U-20-WNT/2012/09/US-U20-WNT-Semifinal-Quote-Sheet.aspx
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