- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

SEOUL — Kristin Lilly, who began playing for the U.S. national team in 1987 when she was just 16, showed she still has something left yesterday in the opening game of the Peace Queen Cup.

Lilly scored on an assist from Abby Wambach in the 73rd minute, salvaging a 1-1 tie for the U.S. team against Denmark before 8,000, answering Camilla Anderson’s goal in the 12th minute.

For Lilly, 35, it was another important goal in a consistent career filled with them — a career that has made her a legend in women’s soccer. Lilly has scored 10 goals in 15 games this year, her third-best total in two decades on the team. The United States has never lost while Lilly is wearing the captain’s armband.

“I’m getting some time in the media, and it’s great and I hope it promotes the team,” Lilly said. “This team has never been about one player.”

Lilly’s 114th career goal yesterday left her second only to Mia Hamm’s 158 in international play. Lilly also has won two Olympic gold medals and two World Cup medals. But no one comes close to her total of 314 games.

“I’m in complete awe of her,” Wambach said. “She will hold that record to the end of time.”

Why does Lilly keep going?

“It’s fun,” she said. “People have jobs whether they like them or not, and this is my job, and I couldn’t be happier.”

But it hasn’t become any easier. Lilly said she has to take more rest days to recover from training sessions and games.

“I’m all about balance and moderation,” Lilly said. “The backbone of my career has always been staying fit.”

On Oct. 20, Lilly was married in her hometown of Wilton, Conn., to a firefighter she met while walking her dog near her home in Boston. A hockey and golf fan, he’s becoming a bigger soccer fan. Many of her former teammates were at the wedding: Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Trish Venturini and Brandi Chastain.

“They’re all having babies,” said Lilly, adding that she wants to start a family herself.

Four days after her wedding, Lilly was on the way to Korea for the Peace Queen Cup — another game, another tournament.

Lilly, who helped lead the U.S. team to a win in the first women’s World Cup in China in 1991, said she would like to do the same when the World Cup returns to China next year.

“Going back to China would be like going full circle,” she said.

Peace Queen Cup roundup — Australia beat the Netherlands 1-0 in Group B’s opening game in Gimhae. …

The U.S. team will hope to rebound from its tie with Denmark tomorrow when it meets Australia in Cheonan.

“I think it is very clear that we have to win our next two games to go to through to the final, but in every tournament it’s the same situation,” U.S. coach Greg Ryan said. “Australia will be a very good game for us, and if we can win that one, we have a good chance to make it to the final.”

The U.S. team is using the games in Korea to prepare for a vital World Cup qualifier, probably against Mexico on Nov. 22.

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