MEXICO CITY - Tonight's dramatic game featuring undefeated Mexico and the winless USA looks to be a mismatch on paper. Don't tell that to the American women, they are a determined bunch of scrappy athletes with something to prove. They point to the last important meeting with the Mexican team where they prevailed. They also point to their second half effort last night where they outscored the Mexican women 14-12.
The Mexican team has beaten Puerto Rico and Chile, a difficult traditional rival. They realize that a victory seals an invitation to the 2009 Pan American Championships; the top two finishers in the Mexico City qualifier will receive invitations to compete next year.
For an upset to occur, the Americans must play an intense, very physical defense. They also need to cut down on their turnovers. The American defense is led by two very physical athletes, Sarah Gascon and Jennifer Haubrich. They are supported by Tomuke "T" Ebuwei and Megan Ballard, with wingers Melanie McCormick and Erin Kizer.
On offense, the USA is led by Kathy Darling, who in three games has registered 20 goals. The France-based professional shouldered the load against both Puerto Rico and Mexico, scoring nine and eight goals respectively. France-based Ballard, who led the USA with five goals against Chile, is second on the team with 10 goals. Gascon and McCormick follow with eight goals apiece through three games.
Game time is 6:30 p.m. at the Mexico City Olympic Village.