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Women's Sports News: World Cup, WNBA, Reigning Triathlete


And now it's time for sports.


SIMON: The U.S. took on China last night - kicks and headers this time, not computer hacks, at least so far as we know. The U.S. women's soccer team defeated China 1-0 in the quarterfinals of the Women's World Cup. They play Germany next - joined now by NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Tom, thanks for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Always a pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: We were emailing during the game. U.S. had a smothering defense, didn't it?

GOLDMAN: It sure did, an aggressive, pressing defense prompted by some lineup changes. The U.S., of course, was missing some key players sitting out because they'd accumulated too many yellow cards - midfielders Megan Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday. Their substitutes played really well - Morgan Brian, Kelly O'Hara. Also, Amy Rodriguez started in place of star forward Abby Wambach. And this quicker and speedier lineup pressured China throughout the game. The Chinese were visibly on their heels, as you know. Carli Lloyd, Scott, scored the lone goal. It would have been nice to have seen more goals, of course, against an inexperienced Chinese team, especially since Sports Illustrated quotes Wambach as saying had the U.S. scored again, there would've been a U.S. Supreme Court-themed celebration - black robes, maybe? The team, especially its prominent gay players such as Wambach and Rapinoe, were thrilled by the decision on marriage equality and said it actually gave the Americans a boost of pride before they took the field.

SIMON: A game before that, the Germans defeated the French by a goal, too. What do you see in the U.S.-Germany match in the semis?

GOLDMAN: You know, it depends a lot on who's out there playing. Will Coach Jill Ellis, for instance, sit Wambach again in favor of the quicker Rodriguez? Germany was affected by France's speed and, you know, almost lost yesterday's quarterfinal game. They won only on penalty kicks. Germany's a tougher opponent than China. The U.S. probably will have to find more scoring opportunities. And having a legendary scorer like Wambach on the bench, that's something Coach Ellis is going to have to consider.

SIMON: Yeah. Tom, we want to make this the Andy Benoit memorial sport's segment, don't we?

GOLDMAN: (Laughter) Sports journalist Andy Benoit had a Twitter lapse. It happens, Scott.

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: Caught the attention of the nation. He tweeted this week that all women sports are not worth watching. He apologized profusely, but yes, we're dedicating the rest of the segment to Andy Benoit's apparent blind spot.

SIMON: And for good reason. The WNBA, for example, is turning out some star rookie players. Last night, the Tulsa Shock - I'll say shocked the New York Liberty 71-62. What's happening in the women's courts?

GOLDMAN: You know, a surprising start to the season. Tulsa and Connecticut last night both won their seventh straight games. And they lead the Western and Eastern conferences respectively. This after both teams had been at the bottom of the WNBA the past two seasons. Another WNBA story of note, Chicago's Elena Delle Donne is on a record-setting pace with her scoring. And, Scott, if you have the opportunity, you probably don't want to foul her. After last night, she's hit 40 straight from the free-throw line.

SIMON: Oh...

GOLDMAN: She's 73...

SIMON: ...Oh, oh.

GOLDMAN: ...For 75 for the season.

SIMON: She could give LeBron James lessons, couldn't she? And finally, I want to ask about Gwen Jorgensen. She might be the top triathlete in the world. But just five years ago, she was all dollars and cents, wasn't she?

GOLDMAN: A CPA, very happy in her accountant job, too. She got recruited to become a triathlete because she'd done two parts of the discipline in college; swimming and running. She learned the cycling part. And she has zoomed to the top of her sport, hasn't lost a race in more than a year, and she competes again in a couple of weeks. You will be hearing about her a lot more in a year when she'll be a favorite to win a gold medal at the Olympics in Rio.

SIMON: Well, we'll be watching. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much for being with us.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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