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ATHENS 2004

Scurry Saves Her Best for Her Last Olympics

U.S. goalkeeper, who will turn 33 next week, blocks a flurry of shots from Brazil to help win the gold, afterward mulling retirement.

August 27, 2004|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — You wondered how much the folks in charge of the postgame tunes at Karaiskaki Stadium knew about the deeper meaning of their musical selections that played while the crowd of 10,416 waited for the medal ceremony on Thursday night.

There was "Miss You" by the Rolling Stones and "That's the Way (I Like It)" by KC and the Sunshine Band. But there was one -- "My Favorite Game" by the Cardigans -- that made complete sense after the United States defeated Brazil, 2-1, in overtime in the women's Olympic soccer final.

To quote the song, "You're losing a savior and a saint."

So, would that savior be Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett or Julie Foudy? Or Brandi Chastain or Kristine Lilly?

The five took their final bows together for the last time, exiting the stage wearing gold medals and wreaths. Hamm, Fawcett and Foudy are retiring from the national team. And though there will be a 10-game victory tour, this was the last major international tournament together for all these women, who have been together since winning the 1991 World Cup in China.

But the final savior on this night may not have been any of those five. You could argue that it was goalkeeper Briana Scurry. Brazil outshot the U.S., 17-10, and had more shots on goal, 9-4. Her often-spectacular play kept the game from turning into a flood of Brazilian goals.

"It was an incredible experience," she said. "The old ladies won this one."

Scurry will turn 33 next week, and so, does she feel old?

"No. But I am," she said, laughing. She wasn't the only one feeling the mileage. Hamm was asked if she was convinced this was really it.

"Why? Because if you only knew how my body feels," she said.

Emotion was flowing like champagne around this team. So maybe that was why Scurry made a surprising statement in the mixed zone during a series of interviews, hours after the game's completion.

"I actually might be one of the changes," Scurry said. "We'll have to see how I feel in a couple of weeks, whether I'm actually going to retire or stay on the team."

She had said this would be her final Olympics but had not contemplated leaving the national team immediately.

The future of the team, post-Hamm and company, has been a continuing thread during the Olympics, and seemingly, for the last few years once they all hit the 30-ish stage.

"It's going to be very different," Scurry said. "We're going to see. But I think we're going to leave it in very good hands. [Lindsay] Tarpley scored and so did Abby [Wambach]."

If this was her final national game, it may have been one of her finest performances

Had she played a better game?

"I'd have to say probably not, not that recently," Scurry said. "I actually did get a hand on the one she [Pretinha] did score. Normally, I'd be probably able to get it and it would have been behind her. But fortunately for her, she was behind it. So I had a really good game."

Said Hamm: "[We had] two back-to-back games of 120 minutes and we never gave up and everyone made an impact for us. I thought our defense played great. Marta and those guys up top are not easy to defend. Bri came up and made some huge saves when she needed to."

And so Scurry has guided the team of stars to two Olympic golds, in 1996 and 2004. She wasn't the goalkeeper in 2000 at Sydney when the U.S. lost to Norway in the gold-medal game.

Her legacy will read: from Athens to Athens. Georgia to Greece, that is.

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