- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2006

CHEONAN, SOUTH KOREA — American goalie Briana Scurry has faced many tense moments in her long career. The most notable was the famous penalty-shootout before a television audience of more than 40 million in the 1999 Women’s World Cup final at the sold-out Rose Bowl.

But when her father died in 2004, Scurry — the world’s best female goalie — stepped away from the sport, unsure whether she would ever return.

Now, Scurry is back.

The 35-year-old — in only her third game since taking last season off — earned a vital shutout behind goals from Kristine Lilly and Natasha Kai as the United States defeated Australia 2-0 in the Peace Queen Cup in Cheonan, a city south of Seoul, last night.

“I needed to take the year off after my dad passed away,” said Scurry, who has a U.S. record 71 shutouts. “I linked the pain of losing my father to soccer, but after several months I realized they were two separate things. When I watched the team play on TV, I missed the game more than I thought.

“I’m 35 and older now. It’s taken some time getting back to being able to play at this pace dealing with speed shots and accuracy and quickness.”

Scurry’s resume includes winning a World Cup medal (1999) and two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004). She has played 158 games for Team USA, tying Cindy Parlow for ninth on the all-time caps list.

“A lot of people would say you’ve won two gold medals and a world championship, so what is there to do now?” Scurry said. “For me, it’s all about being better the next time around, being a better Briana Scurry.”

In yesterday’s game, Australia (1-1-0, 3 points) failed to pose much of a threat against the United States as Lilly scored her second goal of the tournament.

In the 20th minute, the 35-year-old veteran sent a defender the wrong way before firing a right-footed shot from about 12 yards out beyond the reach of the goalie. Lilly has scored 11 goals in 16 games this year, giving her 115 for her career — second only to Mia Hamm in the world. The United States scored again 15 minutes later when Kai scored her sixth goal in just 12 games in 2006.

In the other game of the day, Denmark (1-0-1, 4 points) beat the Netherlands (0-2-0, 0 points) 1-0 on a late goal from Jane Madsen. The United States (1-0-1, 4 points) leads Group B on goal difference.

The United States plays the Netherlands tomorrow in Suwon, needing a win to qualify for Saturday’s final in Seoul.

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