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U.S., Canada battle into overtime in soccer semifinal

August 06, 2012|By Kevin Baxter
  • U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe and Canada's Sophie Schmidt battle in the air for possession of the ball during their semifinal game on Monday in Manchester.
U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe and Canada's Sophie Schmidt battle… (Hussein Malla / Associated…)

MANCHESTER, England -- In a soccer game that had more counterpunching than most heavyweight title fights, the U.S. women rallied from one-goal deficits three times Monday to send their semifinal with Canada into overtime tied, 3-3.

The U.S., which trailed 1-0 at half, started its comeback in the 54th minute on an unusual play that ended in a goal for Megan Rapinoe, whose corner kick intended for Rachel Buehler skidded off the grass, between the legs of Canadian defender Lauren Sesselmann and off the knee of goalkeeper Erin McLeod just inside the near post.

That matched a first-half goal from Canada's Christine Sinclair. But the tie lasted only 13 minutes before a long cross found Sinclair again, this time just outside the six-yard box, from where she drove a header off the goalpost and into the net.

Then Rapinoe punched back in the 70th minute with a right-footed bullet from the edge of the penalty area that stuck the goalpost, ricocheted across the goal line behind McLeod and into the side of the net.

Sinclair gave Canada its third lead of the game with her third goal, another perfectly placed header off a corner kick in the 73rd minute to give her the tournament scoring lead with six goals.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo came into the match with a 346-minute scoreless streak but Sinclair shattered that, scoring more goals by herself than France, Colombia, North Korea and New Zealand scored combined against the U.S.

Hope's teammates picked her up, though, tying the game yet again with 10 minutes left in regulation on Abby Wambach's penalty kick.

Referee Christiana Pedersen's decision to award the penalty was a controversial one, coming after Rapinoe drove a point-blank free kick into the protective wall in front of Canada's net.

The ball struck defender Marie-Eve Nault, who was twisting out of the way, and Pedersen called her for a hand ball. Wambach then sent her penalty kick along the grass and into the corner of the net past a diving McLeod, who guessed correctly on the direction of the kick but still couldn't reach it.

Then it was Solo's turn to keep the U.S. in the game, making a huge save on Sophie Schmidt to send the game to overtime.

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