PORTLAND, Ore. – Tiffeny Milbrett cradled the soccer ball wrapped in tape and inscribed simply in magic marker: “Tiff. 100.”
One of Milbrett’s teammates had retrieved the ball for her after she became just the sixth woman to score 100 international goals, helping the U.S. national team beat Ukraine 7-0 on Sunday.
Milbrett joyously raised her arms to the cheering hometown crowd at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field after her shot went over Ukraine goalie Veronika Shulha’s head in the 57th minute.
“It’s indescribable. I’ve been thinking that if I did it, it wouldn’t be a big deal,” Milbrett said. “But it was unbelievable.”
The game was the second of three exhibition matches for the team in the United States this summer. The national team beat Canada 2-0 on June 26 in Virginia Beach, Va.
The U.S. women are 6-0 this year and have not allowed a goal. They won all four of their games at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, including a 1-0 victory over Germany in the championship game.
Ukraine went 2-1-5 in qualifying play for the 2005 European Women’s Championships, which Germany won last month.
Mia Hamm, who has retired from the national team, leads all women with 158 career goals. Milbrett’s teammate, captain Kristine Lilly, scored her 104th against Ukraine.
Milbrett played at the University of Portland under the late Clive Charles. Before the game Sunday she was honored for her 200th career cap, which she earned against Canada, in a ceremony that included Charles’ widow.
Milbrett returned this year to the team that she left early last year because of differences with then-coach April Heinrichs. Greg Ryan, an assistant under Heinrichs, formally took over the team before the match against Canada.
With her return, Milbrett becomes one of the more recognizable faces on the women’s team. Veteran stars Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett retired from the national team at the end of last year. Defender Brandi Chastain was not invited to rejoin the team this year.
Milbrett’s teammates kept feeding her the ball Sunday, but she said she kept trying to force it. The United States already had a 4-0 lead against the clearly outmatched Ukranians when she finally broke through.
“It’s a very young team, not in regards to age, but to experience,” Ukraine coach Volodymyr Kulayev said of his team through a translator.
U.S. reserve Danielle Fotopoulos scored her first goal in the 51st minute to make it 4-0 before Milbrett’s goal put the crowd on its feet. Coach Ryan called the shot “incredible” and said it showed why Milbrett is one of the best.
“They see that 100th of a chance – and they take it and put it in the back of the net,” he said.
“We love Tiff and we’re so happy to have her back,” Welsh said.
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