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 Thursday, November 7, 2002 06:16 EST

Parlow nets hat trick in rout

[Associated Press]

SEATTLE -- The United States will get a chance to defend its 1999 Women's World Cup title.

Cindy Parlow had three goals and helped the U.S. team clinch a berth in next year's World Cup with a 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup semifinals on Wednesday night.

"This is wonderful for our team,'' said U.S. coach April Heinrichs. "We are genuinely elated about earning our way into the World Cup.''

Parlow, who plays for Atlanta of the WUSA, scored in the 30th minute, 49th minute and 52nd minute to lead the United States to its 15th straight game without a loss on an American pitch.

Parlow, who is the tallest player on the U.S. roster at 5-foot-11, used her height to her advantage. Two of her goals were headers.

"My height advantage is a key to my game,'' she said. "And tonight, the service I was getting from my teammates was the best it's ever been with the national team.''

Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, and Kristine Lilly also scored for the Americans. Costa Rica's Cinthia Lopez was charged with an own goal that gave the United States a 5-0 lead in the 79th minute.

Costa Rica packed it in on defense, keeping the U.S. team off the scoreboard for much of the first half. The Americans hit the cross bar three times in the first 19 minutes and eventually broke through.

Julie Foudy crossed from inside the 18-yard box, going far post and Parlow one-touched it into the open net for the first goal of the match.

Despite outshooting Costa Rica 18-0 in the first half, the lead at the break was only one goal.

"It was a bit of a relief that we finally got a goal in the first half,'' said Parlow. "We knew we were on top of them, and if we kept attacking we figured that they'd eventually go in.''

U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry didn't face her first shot until the 89th minute.

In the end, the U.S. crew outshot Costa Rica 37-1. In the first four matches of the Gold Cup, the United States has outscored opponents 22-0.

When asked if there were any weaknesses on the American team, Costa Rica coach Ricardo Rodriguez said that "the U.S. is such a power house. I can't see any weaknesses on their team.''

The Americans will play Canada, which defeated Mexico 2-0 later Wednesday, in the Nov. 9 final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

"We'll go after either team,'' Heinrichs said of their plan for the final. "We won't sit back. We'll play attacking soccer and go after whoever we play aggressively.''

Five other countries have already earned spots in next year's Women's World Cup. China is in automatically as the host country, and Germany, Norway, Russia and Sweden have qualified.

Own goals doom Mexico against Canada in semis

U.S.-Costa Rica notebook

Canada remains unbeaten at women's Gold Cup

Milbrett drills Panama for five goals in U.S. rout

U.S. perfect after two games in women's Gold Cup

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