Parsons, 18, nets first Olympic goals

Updated: February 12, 2006, 5:07 PM ET
Associated Press

TORINO -- Sarah Parsons scored two dazzling goals and earned an assist with dozens of feverish drives to the net. When she was done, she had outshot the entire German national team.

Looks like the U.S. women's hockey team's teenage secret just got out.

The 18-year-old prodigy shredded the German defense and Pam Dreyer stopped 10 shots in the Americans' second straight shutout victory in the preliminary round, 5-0 over Germany on Sunday night.

Katie King had a goal and two assists, and fellow three-time Olympian Jenny Potter had a goal and an assist. But even the U.S. veterans were overshadowed by their youngest teammate, who's playing hooky from her freshman year at Dartmouth to go for a gold medal.

"Here she comes," linemate Natalie Darwitz said. "Everybody is going to get a look at Sarah, because she's incredible. She's got skills."

Darwitz also scored for the Americans, who took 60 shots _ an incredible 11 by Parsons _ to Germany's 10 in another dominant performance. The United States hasn't really been tested in the opening games of its first Olympics without captain Cammi Granato, cut last summer by coach Ben Smith.

Granato was the face of a team that's now building a new identity with defenseman Angela Ruggiero, captain Krissy Wendell and Parsons, who just might turn out to be the best American player ever.

"Well, you saw why she's here," Smith said. "She's one of those players that's scored in every sport at every level she's played at. She's always had that particular knack."

Parsons was a Boston-area high school star in hockey, soccer and lacrosse less than a year ago. She looked like a talented soccer striker at times against Germany, looming at mid-ice while waiting for passes, then making frantic sprints to the net.

"I like to have the puck, and to try to score," Parsons said. "This game was fun because we played really well on both ends. That's exciting."

She got her first goal early in the second period with a deft deke and a whip-quick shot over German goalie Jennifer Harss' shoulder. Darwitz flipped home the rebound after another impressive drive to the net by Parsons, who had eight shots in the first two periods.

She finished up with an outstanding charge in the third period, eluding three defenders and sprawling to the ice while tucking the puck inside the post. She got a standing ovation from the fans at Turin's stunning new hockey arena.

"You could see when she scored, she wasn't celebrating," Ruggiero said. "That's just how she is. She's a goal-scorer, in hockey, in soccer and in lacrosse. That's just what she does."

The result actually was a small victory for the Germans, who stayed closer to the U.S. than ever before: In all seven of the teams' previous meetings, the Germans lost by at least six goals.

The Americans and Canadians lead their respective groups with two victories. They're nearly assured of advancement to Friday's semifinals, with both clubs already thinking about a gold-medal rematch on Feb. 20.

While the defending Olympic champion Canadians have won their first two games 28-0, the Americans have been less prolific offensively, but just as tough on defense.

Dreyer made every key save during her turn in the U.S. goalie rotation after Chanda Gunn shut out Switzerland on Saturday. And without Switzerland's Patricia Elsmore-Sautter in the other net, where she stopped numerous scoring chances on Saturday, Dreyer had far fewer tense moments.

Potter got the first U.S. goal just 4:33 in, flipping a backhand over a prone Harss during a power play. The Americans added another man-advantage goal late in the period when King redirected Julie Chu's shot.

In what's emerging as a tournament theme, another overzealous officiating crew sent a steady stream of players to the penalty box, leading to 146 seconds of 5-on-3 advantages for Germany in the second period.

The Americans have a day of practice Monday before finishing preliminary-round play against Finland, probably the best team outside North America.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press