Blackbaud crowd sees USA women record 10th straight shutout

***image3***The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team blanked Mexico 3-0 Sunday at Blackbaud Stadium. This marked the 10th straight shutout for the reigning Olympic champions and they completed their season with an 8-0-1 record.

Forward Abby Wambach scored twice against Mexico, upping her career total to 49 goals in 62 games, while U.S. captain Kristine Lilly opened the scoring with her 105th career goal, tying Michelle Akers for second on the all-time U.S. scoring list.

"The credit goes to the defense and the ‘keepers’," Wambach said. "Everyone did their job this year and going 8-0-1 is a great accomplishment for a team having a change of coach and retiring players. All of these things will have a huge impact to this team and things are going to be great as we move forward to 2006."

***image1***The U.S. scored three times in the first half and finished with 28 shots on goal. Meanwhile, Mexico could not solve a U.S. defense that recorded shutouts this season against premier teams such as France, Germany and Canada.

"We’re happy they didn’t score any goals on us," Coach Greg Ryan said. "For us, that is a big thing; shutting teams down, not allowing any chances. We gave Mexico a good chance in the first half and we were a little lucky to keep that record going. I’m very happy to get eight wins and no losses with a very young team."

Consequently, Ryan is optimistic about the 2006 season, but said the team has room for improvement.

"We have a lot of work to do," he said. "We have to keep getting better. We can’t sit where we are. We’re a young team and I think that you could see that out there today even though there is some exciting play. We need to grow in all areas of the game."

Fans saw a bit of Mexico’s future when head coach Leo Cuellar gave 22 minutes of play to 14-year-old forward Veronica Corral, who played in the middle of the second half before coming out. She is believed to be the youngest player ever to play against the full U.S. Women’s National Team.

A crowd of 4,261 and ESPN TV viewers enjoyed the match at sun-drenched Blackbaud Stadium. Players, too, had high praise for the Charleston Battery’s home turf.

"The field is beautiful, a perfect size," Wambach said. "The fans were great, the temperature, what a great day. Sunday afternoon, we’re all out here getting a little bit of a sun tan, watching some great, great soccer, scoring some goals. It’s just a great day. Charleston has always been a welcoming city for us and we’d always, always love to come back."

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