TOKYO, Japan - A trio of University of North Carolina women's soccer players keyed the United States' effort as it defeated defending champion Germany 1-0 Saturday to win the 2012 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
Carolina junior forward Kealia Ohai scored the game's lone goal off an assist by fellow junior Tar Heel Crystal Dunn, a starter on defense for the American side. Both players went the entire 90 minutes as did UNC freshman goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin who made five saves while surviving an assault that saw Germany outshoot the U.S. 17-9.
Ohai scored a 44th-minute goal to end Germany's record shutout streak en route to the USA's third World Cup crown in this tournament's history. The U.S. won the first-ever U-19 World Cup final against Canada in 2002 by a 1-0 score in overtime and captured the 2008 U-20 World Cup against North Korea by a 2-1 ledger.
Ohai's game-winning goal was created by U.S. right back Crystal Dunn who maneuvered down the right flank before getting past Germany's Annabel Jaeger and providing a low searching pass into the middle of the box. The ball initially looked like it could fall to the USA's Katie Stengel, but it got past her and Ohai converged to calmly convert with her strike to the upper left corner of the goal.
That goal put an end to Germany's record shutout streak at 610 minutes and it was the first goal Germany conceded during the 2012 FIFA World Cup.
The U.S., which had lost 3-0 to Germany during the group stage of this year's tournament, put together a strong defensive effort during Saturday's rematch. Led by captain Julie Johnston and goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin, the stout USA defense confidently shut out a strong German squad.
Heaberlin had a game-high five saves, most of which came in the closing minutes. Among some of Germany's last-minute chances, Heaberlin had a lunging save to her right against Lina Magull in the 89th minute and stopped Leonie Maier's deep strike that was bending toward the upper right corner.
Carolina players have now played key roles in all three tournament championships for the USA. In 2002, six Tar Heels were on the American roster - Lindsay Tarpley, Amy Steadman, Lori Chalupny, Heather O'Reilly, Kendall Fletcher and Ashlyn Harris. Tarpley's goal in overtime on a rebound of her own shot lifted the U.S. to that title. In 2008, a pair of UNC players - Nikki Washington and Meghan Klingenberg - started on the U.S. team which beat North Korea in the championship game on December 7, 2008 in Santiago, Chile. That same day, UNC defeated Notre Dame 2-1 to win the NCAA championship in Cary, N.C.
During FIFA's post-game ceremony on Saturday, USA defender Julie Johnston was awarded the Bronze Ball for being voted the third most outstanding player in the tournament. Germany's Dzsenifer Marozsan was the Golden Ball winner.
U.S. U-20 WNT head coach Steve Swanson made one change to the starting lineup from the 11 that started the quarterfinal and semifinal, inserting forward Katie Stengel at center forward in place of Kelly Cobb.
Maya Hayes made her team-leading 43rd career U-20 appearance on Saturday.
Five U.S. players scored in the U-20 Women's World Cup: Hayes (4), Kealia Ohai (2), Vanessa DiBernardo (1), Chioma Ubogagu (1) and Morgan Brian (1).
Earlier in the day, host Japan defeated Nigeria 2-1 to win the third-place match with Asuka Nishikawa's 50th-minute goal proving to be the game-winner.
The 2012 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup begins in two weeks in Azerbaijan and the USA will face France, Gambia and Korea DPR in Group B play. UNC freshman forward Summer Green is a member of the U.S. squad in that competition.
U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team Match Report
Match: United States U-20 Women's National Team vs. Germany
Date: Sept. 8, 2012
Competition: 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup; Final
Venue: Tokyo National Stadium; Tokyo, Japan
Kickoff: 6:20 a.m. ET (7:20 p.m. local)
Weather: 80 degrees, hot and humid
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
GER 0 0 0
USA - Kealia Ohai (Crystal Dunn) 44th minute
USA: 1-Bryane Heaberlin; 4-Crystal Dunn, 8-Julie Johnston (capt.), 3-Cari Roccaro, 2-Mollie Pathman; 16-Sarah Killion (14-Mandy Laddish, 89), 10-Vanessa DiBernardo, 6-Morgan Brian; 7-Kealia Ohai, 12-Katie Stengel (9-Chioma Ubogagu, 60), 5-Maya Hayes (13-Samantha Mewis, 68)
Subs not used: 11-Becca Wann, 15-Kassey Kallman, 17-Taylor Schram, 18-Abby Smith, 19-Stephanie Amack, 20-Kelly Cobb, 21-Jami Kranich
Head Coach: Steve Swanson
GER: 1-Laura Benkarth; 2-Leonie Maier, 4-Jennifer Cramer, 5-Luisa Wensing, 6-Kathrin Hendrich (20-Lina Magull, 66); 7-Annabel Jaeger, 8-Melanie Leupolz (18-Silvana Chojnowski, 78); 16-Anja Hegenauer (3-Carolin Simon, 59), 10-Ramona Petzelberger (capt.), 11-Lena Lotzen; 14-Dzsenifer Marozsan
Subs not used: 9-Nicole Rolser, 12-Meike Kaemper, 13-Sophie Howard, 15-Karoline Heinze, 17-Katharina Leiding, 19-Marie Pyko, 21-Anke Preub
Head Coach: Maren Meinert
USA / GER
Shots: 9 / 17
Shots on Goal: 4 / 5
Saves: 5 / 3
Corner Kicks: 6 / 12
Fouls: 5 / 6
Offside: 2 / 2
Referee: Pernilla Larsson (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Maria Sukenikova (SVK)
Assistant Referee 2: Sanja Rodak (CRO)
Fourth Official: Nami Sato (JPN)