Julianne Sitch Named to National Team for Nordic Cup
CHICAGO - U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team head coach Chris Petrucelli has named the 18-player squad that will travel to Iceland for the 14th Annual Nordic Cup being held July 23-29 in nine small venues in the northern part of the country, not far from the Arctic Circle.
The U.S. team will assemble to train for three days in New Jersey from July 16-18 (which includes a scrimmage against the U.S. Under-19 National Team on July 17) before departing for Iceland, which will be hosting its second Nordic Cup. The USA won its second of six Nordic Cup titles in Iceland in 1999. Held in Northern Europe every summer, the Nordic Cup is the top competition in the world for U-21 women and the focus of the USA’s oldest youth national team during its seven-month run up to the prestigious competition.
Petrucelli chose six veterans of past Nordic Cups and included six players who were members of the USA’s 2002 Under-19 World Championship team. Forwards Manya Makoski and Kelly Wilson, midfielders Sarah Huffman and Lori Chalupny, and defenders Jill Oakes and Keeley Dowling were all part of the U.S. team that defeated Canada 1-0 in overtime at the 2002 U-19 World Championship Final in Edmonton in front of almost 50,000 fans.
University of Hawaii forward Natasha Kai, the team's leading scorer this year with nine goals and the only woman from Hawaii in the U.S. Women's National Team pools, was one of four forwards chosen by Pertucelli to play in her first Nordic Cup. She will be joined up front by three other forwards also making their debut in Wilson, Makoski, and Esmerelda Negron of Princeton, who was the 2003 Ivy League Player of the Year. Wilson and Makoski both made last year’s squad but had to pull out at the last moment due to injuries.
In the midfield, DePaul’s Julianne Sitch and UNC's Kacey White join Huffman and Nikki Thaden, who played for Petrucelli at Texas, in making the final Nordic Cup roster. On the defensive side, Dowling and Stanford stars Hayley Hunt and Jenny Farenbaugh will team up with 6-foot-2 ‘keeper Katie Jo Spisak from Texas A&M for their first Nordic Cup.
“We have a core group of about 14 players that have been together for the last six months,” said Petrucelli who chose six college seniors, 10 juniors and one sophomore to the squad. “These players have gone to China and Brazil and played the full Women’s National Team a few times, so the amount of international experience they’ve gained in the last year will definitely help.”
Chalupny should add an extra spark to the U.S. midfield as she just finished four months in Olympic Residency Camp with the Women’s National Team at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center in Carson, Calif. Chalupny has played in four matches for the senior team this year, scoring one goal, a cracker against Mexico on May 9. As teenagers, Chalupny and Oakes were members of the USA’s 2001 Nordic Cup championship team. Chalupny scored two goals in that tournament and Oakes scored one of the biggest goals in U.S. youth national team history, punching in a late equalizer as a substitute in the USA’s 1-1 tie with Germany during group play that sent the U.S. team to the championship game, where they dismantled Sweden, 5-1.
The USA will face a tough challenge in Group B, taking on Finland, Norway and Germany in first-round play. Group A features Sweden, Iceland, Denmark and England. The top two finishers in each group will cross over to play for the championship, while the two second place finishers will play for third, the third place finishers for 5th and the last place finishers in the groups will vie for 7th place.
The USA opens the tournament against Finland on Friday, July 23, in Dalvik, and then faces Norway on Sunday, July 25, in Olafsfjordur. The U.S. will finish first-round play against Germany on Tuesday, July 27, in Dalvik. All four placement matches are set for Thursday, July 29.
“It’s four games in seven days with an 18-player roster, so it’s definitely a physically demanding tournament,” said Petrucelli. “Our draw is also extremely difficult, especially as we play Norway and Germany back-to-back, so that will be a real challenging test for us.”
The USA has won an amazing six out of the last seven Nordic Cups, and five in a row, since winning its first in 1997 over Norway in Denmark. The USA fell the next year to Norway in the title game. Since then, the USA has reeled off five straight titles under four different coaches, defeating Norway once, and Germany and Sweden twice, in the title games. This year, the USA will have Norway and Germany in their group, and will have to take care of business against the long-time rivals in round-robin play to earn a berth to the championship game. This will be the second Nordic Cup for Petrucelli, who led the USA to 2-1 victory over Sweden in the 2003 Nordic Cup title game as Joanna Lohman scored both goals.
“This is a pretty focused group of players, and I think we are all excited about the challenge of maintaining our high standards,” said Lohman. “People don’t always realize how tough it is to go over to Europe and win, but I think we have the experience and depth to get it done.”
Age eligible players for the 2004 Nordic Cup are those born on or after January 1, 1983, but Petrucelli has the option of including four “overage” players on team, which are players born on or after January 1, 1980. The “overage” players on the 2004 Nordic Cup Team are goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, defender Lindsey Huie, midfielder Carli Lloyd and Lohman, a 2003 MAC Hermann Trophy finalist who will be playing in her third Nordic Cup. Lohman is the only player on the roster who has completed her college eligibility. Chalupny, Lloyd and Barnhart also made their third Nordic Cup rosters.
2004 Nordic Cup Schedule
2004 U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team