Aug. 1, 1996 – U.S. 2:1 China, Olympic Games final at Athens, Ga. (Att.: 76,489)
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This was the first title for the U.S. Women’s National Team in a fully-sanctioned FIFA tournament. The 1991 WWC was considered a “World Championship” (not World Cup) and games were played with 40-minute halves. The success of the ’91 event paved the way for the ’95 WWC in Sweden (won by Norway) and inclusion of the women’s game in the Olympics. Women’s football exploded as a spectator sport in the ’96 Games, 16 matches drawing total crowds of nearly 700,000 (64,196 for the semifinals).
Connecticut connections played key roles for the U.S. Tony DiCicco (Wethersfield, Conn.) guided the team, among his decisive moves a 96th-minute substitution of Shannon MacMillan, who scored the 100th-minute gold goal in a 2-1 win over Norway in the semifinals, then opened the scoring in the final. Kristine Lilly (Wilton, Conn.) played every minute of all five games (the U.S. had a 4W-0L-1D record) on the way to a record 354 caps in a 23-year international career. Former UMass star Brian Scurry totaled three shutouts in the tournament and had four shutouts as the U.S. won the 1999 WWC.
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