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US Women Open World Cup Title Defense With 3-1 Win over Sweden - 2003-09-22


The United States opened the defense of its Women's World Cup soccer title with an impressive 3-1 victory over Sweden in Washington. Brazil scored a 3-0 victory over South Korea in the second game of the doubleheader.

The U-S women got off to the start they were seeking, defeating world number-five Sweden with their trademark physical play and constant motion on the field. The U.S. team energetically ran the length of the field for the entire game, wearing down Sweden and claiming a share of the early lead in Group-A. North Korea was the other winner of the first opening round games, defeating Nigeria, 3-0, Saturday in Philadelphia.

U.S. veteran Kristine Lilly, who has played in more international women's soccer games than any other player, found an open shot in front of the net in the 28th minute. Eight minutes later, Cindy Parlow sent the ball at the crossbar and watched as it deflected down into the goal.

Sweden came back with a score in the 58th minute before American Shannon Boxx put a corner kick in the net in the 78th minute. Mia Hamm assisted on all three U.S. goals. While she felt some aspects of the U.S. game needs some work, she said the defending champions have good spirit. "The only thing we can control is our effort every single time we step out there. And I think our heart was there today. It was not our best game. But we have two to three days to improve upon that," she said.

U.S. coach April Heinrichs agrees. "It is a great start for us top win and get three points," she said. "And our goal is to get better every game."

The U.S. women next face Nigeria in Philadelphia on Thursday. Also in Washington Sunday, Katia scored two second-half goals as Brazil shut out Group-B opponent South Korea, 3-0. Marta scored the first goal on a penalty kick in the 14th minute. Katia put a 15-meter shot in the net 10 minutes into the second half and followed with another score seven minutes later.

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