The only teenager on the U.S. women's soccer team gave the old vets a chance to leave with one last gold.
Minutes after missing a wide open net, Heather O'Reilly, 19, scored in the ninth minute of overtime Monday to give the United States a 2-1 victory
over World Cup champion Germany and a place in Thursday's gold-medal game.
Mia Hamm set up the goal with a short cross from the right, pushing back the pass toward a cluster of three players about 6 yards from the net.
O'Reilly, a freshman at North Carolina, somehow got her foot on the ball before defender Ariane Hingst did, pushing ashot to left of goalkeeper Silke
The win gives the Fab Five -- long-standing U.S. stars Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain and Kristine Lilly -- a chance to go out as
champions in their final tournament together.
The U.S. team will face either Brazil or Sweden, who played later Monday in Patras, for the Olympic title Thursday in Athens. Germany will play in the
bronze medal game on the same day.
The victory avenges a 3-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup semifinals 11 months ago in Portland, Ore. Germany went on to win the Cup and entered the
Olympics ranked No. 1 in the world.
The Americans were unlucky that the game even went to overtime. They dominated Germany most of the match, and Germans' tying goal came on a shot from
Isabell Bachor that deflected off Fawcett's hip two minutes into second-half injury time.
Then, in overtime, O'Reilly had an open net in front of her after getting past Rottenberg at the top of the penalty box, but she rushed her shot and
hit the near post. O'Reilly nearly scored again in the second overtime after a long run with a shot that forced a juggling save by Rottenberg.
Lilly scored her 98th career goal in the 33rd minute -- her third goal in as many games -- and the U.S. defense didn't allow a shot on goal until the
77th minute. Birgit Prinz, the reigning world player of the year, was essentially neutralized.
Bachor sent the game to overtime by setting up her shot with a move that twisted defender Christie Rampone to the ground. Bachor's 11-yard drive hit
Fawcett in the hip, leaving goalkeeper Briana Scurry helpless as the ball landed inside the near post. It was only the second shot on goal for Germany
in the match.
Lilly's first-half goal capped a strong, 10-minute stretch for the Americans. Chastain dribbled a cross from the left wing, and Abby Wambach used her
strength to fight off Hingst and flick the ball ahead to Lilly. Lilly's shot hit the hand of the veteran Rottenberg, who was leaning just slightly the
wrong way, before settling inside the far corner of the net.
In the second half, Scurry made her first save in the 77th minute, falling to the ground to stop Renate Lingor's long free kick.
Play was very physical in a game that included three yellow cards, including Germany's first of the tournament. Hamm, Wambach and Prinz were
especially targeted with pushes, shoves and nudges that sent them tumbling to the turf. Foudy was taken off in the 61st minute, after getting spiked
in the right foot by Bachor and was soon replaced by Aly Wagner.