DiBernardo, U.S. squad reach tournament final
TOKYO — Vanessa DiBernardo's quest to bring a gold medal back to campus remained on track Tuesday, as the Illinois midfielder helped the U.S. Under-20 National Team defeat Nigeria 2-0 in the semifinals of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup soccer tournament.
Morgan Brian and Kealia Ohai each scored their first goals of the event as the Americans advanced to Saturday's title match.
Team USA will face defending champion Germany at 5:20 a.m. CDT at Tokyo National Stadium. The Germans advanced with a 3-0 semifinal win against host Japan later Tuesday.
The championship will be carried live by ESPNU and ESPN3.
DiBernardo, a junior, has started all five matches and played 452 minutes.
The U.S. has won this tournament twice, defeating Canada for the 2002 crown when it was a U-19 event and edging Korea 2-1 in the 2008 U-20 World Cup.
In the 22nd minute, Brian headed the ball into the left side of the net for a 1-0 lead. U.S. left back Mollie Pathman assisted on the goal. In the 70th minute, second-half subs Chioma Ubogagu and Samantha Mewis worked the ball to Ohai, whose shot found the left side of the net for a 2-0 advantage.
Brian and Ohai were the fourth and fifth different players to score for Team USA in the tournament.
"That's been the hallmark of our team is that a number of players can score," U.S. coach Steve Swanson said. "Morgan (Brian) certainly has been knocking on the door in some of these games and so has Kealia (Ohai).
"We take a lot of pride in our interchangeable parts, being able to get people to attack, and we certainly like it when a lot of people score."
Each team had three shots on goal, with U.S. goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin making three saves for her second shutout of the tournament.