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No U.S. Tears for Argentina in Rout

Women's soccer: Milbrett scores hat trick, Hamm has two goals and four assists as Americans dominate visitors, 8-1.

April 25, 1998|GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was in about the 70th minute Friday night that Liliana Torres put her gloved hands over her face and simply held them there.

What she couldn't see, Argentina's goalkeeper must have reasoned, couldn't hurt her.

At that point, the United States already held a 7-1 lead en route to an 8-1 international soccer victory in front of a sellout crowd of 10,099 at Titan Stadium on the Cal State Fullerton campus.

Tiffeny Milbrett scored a hat trick, the first of her career, for the Olympic gold medalists. Debbie Keller had two goals. Mia Hamm scored two and assisted on four others. Michelle Akers edged one goal closer to the 100 mark by scoring her 95th.

All in all, it was about as one-sided a game as the U.S. has enjoyed in some time.

"It's demoralizing, but this is international soccer and they're professionals," U.S. Coach Tony DiCicco said of the overwhelmed Argentines. "They're emerging. They'll get a lot better.

"Right now, we need the confidence that this type of game can give us. Debbie getting a couple of goals and Tiffeny getting a hat trick, that's pretty important to us too.

"So we're not trying to embarrass anyone, but we need to build on our confidence also."

The South Americans, who already have qualified for the third FIFA Women's World Championship, in the United States in 1999, will have learned a lot from this game, the first between the nations.

They will have found that they need to play a faster, more technically skilled and tactically aware game if they are to compete at this level. The U.S. players were dominant in all aspects.

That said, it was the South Americans who scored first, Maria Villanueva beating U.S. goalkeeper Tracy Ducar in the fourth minute on a counterattack.

"We did a lot of good things," DiCicco said. "The ball movement was very good. The energy and the quickness all over the team was very good. We spent some time on defense this week and then the early goal had us looking around, but the team had a lot of poise. We came out and played well. We didn't let them play."

Milbrett said the U.S. had focused on the game all week.

"We had a really good week of training," she said. "Some training camps we've kind of been flat and dead and it showed, but this week we've really been sharp and focused.

"It's exciting to come back [from tours to China and Europe] and put on a show for America because we know what we can do, and we want them [U.S. fans] to know what we can do. We're just glad they came out."

The U.S. held a 3-1 lead at the half and, urged on by a raucous crowd, did not ease up in the second 45 minutes. It made for a long night for Torres in the Argentine net.

Especially when she looked ahead and realized the teams will meet again in San Jose on Sunday.

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