With a sore left quadriceps muscle and never having played a minute in international competition, Tammy Pearman may have been the most surprised person when she was called to enter Sunday's final of the U.S. Women's Cup soccer tournament.
There was just 23 minutes remaining and the score was tied at 1-1."I heard (coach) Tony (DiCicco) call my name and I thought to myself, `He can't really mean me,' " Pearman said.
Twice in the final minutes of regulation, Pearman used her speed to beat the Norwegian defense, but was unable to finish.
However, two minutes into overtime, Pearman took a long ball from Jen Grubb at the top of the penalty arc and headed it past goalkeeper Bente Nordby as the United States rallied for a 2-1 victory.
The game, in RFK Stadium, was a matchup between the last two women's World Cup champions and capped off a four-nation, round-robin tournament.
"There was major motivation for us to win this game," said DiCicco, whose team avenged a 1-0 semifinal loss to the Norwegians in this year's World Cup. "They took something away from us that we can never completely get back, but this feels really great."
Pearman was an improbable hero, having nearly dropped off the roster after injuring her leg while playing for the East team in the U.S. Olympic Festival.
"A lot of us are hurting right now, but you have to kind of play through the pain, said Pearman, a New York native who played for George Mason University.
Norway, which lost to the United States in the World Cup final in 1991, missed an opportunity to win in the closing seconds of regulation when U.S. goalkeeper Mary Harvey batted away a header by Linda Medalen.
After a scoreless first half, Marianne Petterson hammered a rebound off Harvey in the 58th minute to give Norway a 1-0 lead.
However, Mia Hamm brought the U.S. team even four minutes later, scoring on a free kick through a screen from 32 yards out.
While far short of capacity, the crowd of 7,083 was the largest to see the U.S. Women's national team play in its home country. Last August, 6,511 fans paid to see the same two teams compete in Worcester, Mass.