UH’s Kai leads U.S. past
Finland in Nordic Cup

The incoming junior soccer star scores
a goal and assists on another
for the Under-21 team

Natasha Kai has struck again.

The Rainbow Wahine junior-to-be scored one goal, assisted on another and was taken down in the penalty area, leading to the first goal as the United States Under-21 Women opened defense of their Nordic Cup soccer crown with a 3-0 victory over Finland yesterday in Dalvik, Iceland.

All three goals came in the first 30 minutes of the match.

The Americans are in Group B, along with Finland, Norway and Germany.

The U.S. opened the scoring in the seventh minute when Jill Oakes served a long ball behind the Finnish defense to a streaking Kai. Finland goalkeeper Minna Pyykko upended Kai by sliding under her legs. U.S. captain Joanna Lohman converted the penalty kick.

"One of the main points was getting a quick start and pressuring them to get an early goal," Lohman said. "We wanted to pressure their backs to see if they could handle it."

Kai scored her goal in the 16th minute. Kelly Wilson slipped a pass between two defenders to the speedy Kai, who first-timed the ball from 16 yards out. The ball glanced off a sliding Finland defender and caromed into the right corner of the net.

"It is good to get Tasha on track and scoring goals," said U.S. coach Chris Petrucelli of Kai, who notched her 10th goal of 2004.

Sarah Huffman set up the third goal in the 30th minute with a through ball to Kai, who touched it to Carli Lloyd. The Rutgers senior dribbled across the top of the penalty area to her right, then shot back into the lower left corner of the net from 18 yards out.

Down 3-0, Finland brought all 11 players back in the second half and, with the wind in their faces on a narrow field, the U.S. could not score again.

"It was a solid performance, especially in that we started the match well," Petrucelli said. "We had talked about starting fast. We accomplished a couple of things in this match. We got three points, certainly helped our goal difference with the three goals, got a number of players rest and got some solid defense from the reserves."

Petrucelli used all five of his subs, including Julianne Sitch, who replaced Kai in the 59th minute. Tomorrow, the Americans play Norway, a 3-1 loser to Germany yesterday.


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