BLAINE, Minn. — The U.S. women's soccer team ended Canada's mysterious hold on the Americans' dominance.
There was still some debate, however, as to whether the Americans — winners of the 1999 World Cup and Olympic silver medal — re-established themselves clearly as the better team with a 1-0 victory Tuesday.
U.S. coach April Heinrichs said she thought the Canadians' "sit back and stop the bleeding" defensive style was an indication of the Americans' superiority. They took 12 shots on goal to the Canadians' two.
Yet U.S. goalkeeper Siri Mullinix had to make a diving save of Sharolta Nonen's shot in the final minute to preserve the win.
"I expected an even tougher game," Canadian coach Even Pellerud said. "It has to be frustrating to them to lose and tie Canada.
"They played a good game, and yet it was an absolutely even game. It could have gone both ways. The performance itself was the big thing for me."
Tiffeny Milbrett scored the winning goal in the 77th minute of the Independence Day series. She beat goalkeeper Nicci Wright off the rebound of her own shot following Mia Hamm's free kick. Hamm attacked the 35-yard shot as though she was going to take a shot, then chipped it over the Canadian wall.
"My emotions and arousal level were as high today as they were for any game in the Olympics,"Heinrichs said. "We don't want any team to believe they can consistently beat us."
The Americans, tied 2-2 by the Canadians on Saturday night in Toronto, are 1-2-2 in their last five games and 23-3-2 overall against Canada.
"We had so many bodies crashing on that shot, because we were so darned determined to make sure that ball cracked the goal," Heinrichs said.
Most of the scoreless first half was spent in the U.S. half of the field. American forward Shannon MacMillan missed three chances within the penalty area, including one that forced Wright to make a diving save. Canadian defender Isabelle Morneau cleared an open-net shot by Milbrett in the sixth minute.