The U.S. under-17 boys national soccer team overcame a two-goal deficit in regulation today, but lost to Australia in a penalty kick tiebreaker in the semifinals of the world championships.

The game was tied 2-2 after regulation and 30 minutes of sudden-death overtime, and Australia won the tiebreaker, 7-6.

Kenny Cutler of Richmond sent the Americans' eighth penalty kick over the crossbar, giving the win to Australia, which took a 2-0 lead in regulation before the United States tied it on goals by Landon Donovan of Redlands, Calif., and Oguchi Onyewu of Olney.

"I'm incredibly proud of this team, as our entire country should be," U.S. Coach John Ellinger of Ellicott City said. "It's a great group of guys who are hurting a lot right now."

Only twice before had a U.S. men's team advanced to a world semifinal: the 1930 World Cup and the 1989 under-20 world championships.

Ghana played Brazil in the second semifinal today in Auckland. The championship and third-place game are set for Saturday.

Australia went ahead on goals by Aaron Goulding in the third minute and Scott McDonald in the 35th.

But the United States responded a minute later. Donovan cut inside two defenders, setting himself up for a powerful left-footed shot that curved into the upper-left corner of the net for his third goal of the tournament. Then in the 51st minute, Onyewu nodded Donovan's corner kick into the right side of the net to tie the score.

The Americans fell behind in four of their five games in this tournament. In the quarterfinals, they trailed Mexico 1-0 before scoring three consecutive goals en route to a 3-2 victory.

In addition to Onyewu, the Washington area is represented by midfielder Kyle Beckerman (Arundel), defender Alexander Yi (Easton, Md.) and reserve forward Abe Thompson (Fairfax Station).