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Wambach leads U.S. women back to Olympic semifinals

Newcastle, England (Sports Network) - Abby Wambach scored again and the United States is back in the semifinals of the women's Olympic soccer tournament.

Wambach scored in her fifth straight Olympic game - a streak going back to the 2004 Olympics - and Sydney Leroux added a late goal as the United States edged New Zealand, 2-0, at St James' Park on Friday in the quarterfinals.

Wambach was injured in 2008, when the Americans won their second straight gold medal, but added to her on extra-time winner in the 2004 finale against Brazil with a goal in each of the first four matches in the London Games.

"Everything she does on and off the field, she leads this team. If you look at this game, she scored a huge goal," U.S. coach Pia Sundhage said of Wambach.

The United States has reached the final in the first four Olympic tournaments, and will face Canada in the semifinals Monday at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Canada defeated Great Britain, 2-0, to advance.

"We're in the semifinals of the Olympics and hopefully if we get one more win we'll be playing for gold," Wambach said.

Alex Morgan and Wambach both missed early shots for the United States, but the duo combined for the opener before the half-hour mark. Morgan delivered a pass - which might have been a shot - from the left and Wambach slotted home at the far post in the 27th minute for her 142nd career goal.

Morgan had another good scoring chance early in the second half but fired into the side netting and was involved in bad collision with New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon in the 73rd.

Bindon challenged Morgan on a breakaway just outside the penalty area and took a knee to the face as the U.S. striker tried to avoid the goalie. Both stayed in the match, but Morgan was replaced by Leroux in the 81st.

Leroux picked up where Morgan left off, and converted a chance in the 87th for his first Olympic goal. She scored through the legs of Bindon to secure the fifth semifinal appearance in as many Olympics for the United States.

"It's so amazing. If you saw my face, I was pretty excited. I'm so happy that I get to play with these girls and they inspire me every day. To score a goal (in the Olympics) for the USA is a dream come true," Leroux said.

The United States also won gold in 1996, and settled for silver in 2000.

08/03 16:20:30 ET


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