Feb 09, 2020 8:00 AM

Press rolls as US secures spot in Tokyo Olympics

Posted Feb 09, 2020 8:00 AM

CARSON, Calif. (AP) — Christen Press is on a tear with goals in her past six games, focused on the U.S. national team’s next big task: the Olympics.

A longtime scoring threat, often as a spark off the bench, Press is making a case for a starting role with her latest outburst.

She is just the fifth U.S. woman to score in six straight games, joining Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, April Heinrichs and Carli Lloyd. It’s the longest such streak for the U.S. since Lloyd scored in seven straight in 2014.

Press says she’s hasn’t changed a thing.

“I think the way I approach football always, and it’s been this way for a while, is just that my job is to strive to be my best when I’m on the field, and that’s every training and every game,” she said. “I’m happy to be helping the team and be on the field and doing what I love. It’s as simple as that.”

The United States is looking to become the first team to grab gold at the Olympics the year after winning the World Cup.

Four years ago in Brazil, the reigning World Cup champs looked unstoppable before they were knocked out by Sweden in the quarterfinals. It was the U.S. team’s earliest ever Olympic exit.

“We have to let go of the World Cup and we have to go into this like, you know, this is our big tournament for the next three years. And so I think that that’s a good lesson to have learned,” Press said. “I think having a new staff in the transition presents different challenges. But, you know, all of our eyes and all of our focus are on bringing home the gold.”

The United States qualified for the Tokyo Games on Friday night when it beat Mexico 4-0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament. Press scored the final goal, a well-executed chip shot in the 73rd minute.

Canada claimed the region’s other Olympic berth with a 1-0 semifinal victory over Costa Rica.

With the Olympic spots secured, the United States will play Canada on Sunday in an essentially inconsequential title game. The U.S. has defeated Canada in the past three qualifying tournament finals.

Press has received more opportunities on the field as of late with the absence of Alex Morgan, who is on maternity leave. Morgan has said she’s going to try to be back in time for Tokyo.

Press also gets to make her case for a new staff: Vlatko Andonovski took over as coach after Jill Ellis stepped down last fall.

Andonovski, former coach of Reign FC of the National Women’s Soccer League, is well aware of Press, who currently plays for the Utah Royals.

“She’s doing very well, like you said she’s on fire, but I’ve always thought she’s a great player, it’s not like she’s just coming on fire now. Now she has more opportunity, “Andonovski said. “She’s doing well and penetrating on the dribble and the goals that she’s scored, I’ve seen Press score those goals in the league. I’m just glad she’s doing it for the national team as well.”

Press made her national team debut in 2013. She has 56 goals in 134 appearances. A standout at Stanford who won the MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation’s best college player as a senior, Press went on to play for clubs in Sweden in addition to her stints in the NWSL.

She has played in two World Cups, and Tokyo will be her second Olympics.

“My mindset is always is that there’s always more. So when people say `Oh, you’re at the top of your game,’ I don’t really like that expression, because it implies that from here you go down,” Press said. “What I want for myself and this team is to continue to ascend.”

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Feb 09, 2020 8:00 AM
Sunday Sports Headlines

Here is the latest Mid-America sports news from The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Roope Hintz scored the game-winner at 2:19 of overtime and finished with two goals, leading the Dallas Stars to a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Hintz flipped in a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle for the winner and his 17th goal of the season. Jamie Benn also scored for Dallas. Anton Khudobin made 23 saves. Colton Parayko scored two first-period goals for the Blues. 

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Joe Wieskamp scored a career-high 30 points and Luka Garza added 22 to help No. 17 Iowa bounce back from its worst loss of the season with a 96-72 win over Nebraska on Saturday. Garza and Wieskamp came into the game averaging a combined 38 points per game, the sixth-best scoring duo in NCAA Division I play. Wieskamp's previous career high was 26 in the 67-49 win over Maryland on Jan. 10. Iowa (17-7, 8-5 Big Ten) was coming off a 104-68 loss at Purdue on Wednesday, and guard CJ Fredrick said during Friday's media availability that the Hawkeyes were "embarrassed" after that defeat. They took it out on the Huskers (7-16, 2-10).

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — No. 3 Kansas has another 20-win season and coach Bill Self has his 700th career victory. Udoka Azubuike had 20 points and 15 rebounds as the Jayhawks beat TCU 60-46. It is their 31st consecutive 20-win season, matching North Carolina's record. Azubuike had his 10th double-double this season and had five dunks in a 13-3 run early that put Kansas ahead to stay. Devon Dotson added 18 points and 11 assists for the Jayhawks. Desmond Bane had 20 points for TCU, which lost its fifth game in a row. 

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marcus Zegarowski scored 23 points to lead six Creighton players in double figures and the 21st-ranked Bluejays beat St. John's 94-82. Creighton shot a season-best 60% from the field and matched its season high with 13 3-pointers but couldn't separate from the Red Storm until the middle of the second half. Marcellus Earlington scored a career-high 25 points for the Red Storm. The sophomore was 3 for 4 on 3s after coming in 3 for 21 for the season.

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Obi Toppin scored 17 points and Jalen Crutcher led a second-half rally that swept No. 6 Dayton to a 71-65 victory over Saint Louis. Dayton has won 12 straight, vaulting to its highest ranking in 53 years. The Flyers are unbeaten in the Atlantic 10 Conference but the Billikens have given them their two closest calls. Crutcher's last-second 3-pointer in overtime rallied the Flyers to a 78-76 victory on Jan. 17 on the Billikens' court. He scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half as Dayton broke open a tight game Saturday. Jordan Goodwin led Saint Louis with 22 points.

UNDATED (AP) — Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga and San Diego State are the top seeds in the NCAA's preliminary rankings. The Bears are the No. 1 overall seed in rankings released by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee. The preliminary rankings are based on games through Friday. They are designed to be a sneak peek at the selection process before the official seeds are revealed on Selection Sunday, which is March 15. The Final Four is March 27-29 in Atlanta.

AMES, Iowa (AP) — Solomon Young scored 20 points, Terrence Lewis added 12 points off the bench, and Iowa State held off Kansas State for a 73-63 win. The Cyclones led by as many as 21 points and played the final 13 minutes, 46 seconds without star guard Tyrese Haliburton — who sustained an injury seconds before halftime. Cartier Diarra scored 24 points to lead the Wildcats, who used a 13-3 run to pull within four points with 7:54 remaining but could get no closer.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Xavier Pinson scored a career-high 24 points to lead Missouri to an 83-79 overtime victory over Arkansas on Saturday. Pinson, a sophomore guard, went 12 of 13 from the free throw line in a foul-plagued game in which the teams combined to shoot 83 free throws. Javon Pickett scored 14 points and Reed Nikko finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers (11-12, 3-7 Southeastern Conference). Mason Jones and Jimmy Whitt Jr. scored 17 points each for the Razorbacks (16-7, 4-6). Reggie Chaney added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

AP-Scorecard

Here are the scores from yesterday's sports events:

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Final Milwaukee 111 Orlando 95

Final Dallas 116 Charlotte 100

Final New York 95 Detroit 92

Final Toronto 119 Brooklyn 118

Final New Orleans 124 Indiana 117

Final Minnesota 142 L.A. Clippers 115

Final L.A. Lakers 125 Golden State 120

Final Denver 117 Phoenix 108

Final Sacramento 122 San Antonio 102

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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Final Winnipeg 5 Ottawa 2

Final Boston 4 Arizona 2

Final New Jersey 3 Los Angeles 0

Final Colorado 2 Columbus 1

Final Tampa Bay 3 N-Y Islanders 1

Final OT Montreal 2 Toronto 1

Final Philadelphia 7 Washington 2

Final Edmonton 3 Nashville 2

Final Pittsburgh 3 Florida 2

Final OT Dallas 3 St. Louis 2

Final Calgary 6 Vancouver 2

Final SO Carolina 6 Vegas 5

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TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Final (1)Baylor 78 Oklahoma St. 70

Final (2)Gonzaga 90 Saint Mary's (Cal) 60

Final (3)Kansas 60 TCU 46

Final (4)San Diego St. 89 Air Force 74

Final (5)Louisville 80 Virginia 73

Final (6)Dayton 71 Saint Louis 65

Final OT (7)Duke 98 North Carolina 96

Final (8)Florida St. 99 Miami 81

Final (12)Seton Hall 70 (10)Villanova 64

Final OT (11)Auburn 91 (18)LSU 90

Final Oklahoma 69 (13)West Virginia 59

Final Oregon St. 63 (14)Oregon 53

Final (15)Kentucky 77 Tennessee 64

Final Michigan 77 (16)Michigan St. 68

Final (17)Iowa 96 Nebraska 72

Final (21)Creighton 94 St. John's 82

Final (22)Penn St. 83 Minnesota 77

Final UCLA 65 (23)Arizona 52

Final (24)Colorado 81 Stanford 74

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TODAY'S SPORTS SCHEDULE

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NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Boston at Oklahoma City 3:30 p.m.

Chicago at Philadelphia 6 p.m.

Memphis at Washington 6 p.m.

New York at Atlanta 6 p.m.

Utah at Houston 7 p.m.

L.A. Clippers at Cleveland 7:30 p.m.

Miami at Portland 9 p.m.

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NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Boston at Detroit 12:30 p.m.

Anaheim at Buffalo 3 p.m.

Los Angeles at N-Y Rangers 6 p.m.

Chicago at Winnipeg 7 p.m.

Colorado at Minnesota 7:30 p.m.

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TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

(19)Butler at Marquette 12 p.m.

Wichita St. at (25)Houston 3 p.m.

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