In Olympics 2012 women’s field hockey tournament Australia routed USA 1-0 (schedule, video). But everything is not lost as US has time to make up for the loss in the next game, says Raaj Datta of NVONews.Com
Just as it seemed everything was going in favour of the U.S. women’s hockey team, a 33rd minute penalty corner by Australian defender Anna Flanagan made the day for her team.
After a victory over Argentina on Tuesday, the U.S. seemed invincible and a match with Netherlands was the only talked about target. But the Thursday loss to Australia has now steered all the attention to the Saturday match with New Zealand. It’s more like a ‘do and survive’ scenario for the U.S. women’s hockey team.
Other than the penalty corner, the U.S. team played well enough throughout the match. The Aussies had a trough time breaking in through the defense system of the U.S. team. Earlier in the match, Rachael Dawson’s shot went past goalkeeper Toni Cronk and it stopped short by Jodie Schulz’s foot, and that resulted in a penalty. This time though, Cronk was more focused and she dived low to the right to flatten the flick by Lauren Crandell. The 33rd minute didn’t exactly go accordingly; the U.S. goalkeeper could not save the powerful flick from Flanagan.
There was some sluggishness too. The U.S. women’s team missed a crucial penalty stroke in the first half and some unsuccessful penalty corners as well. Now, the team has two games left and it needs to be in the top two spots in the group. The team is currently in the fifth place.
The second match on Thursday was more like the final of the Beijing Olympics. Netherlands defeated China at the Riverbank Arena, and with that, it has posted the third straight victory.
The match between Netherlands and China was straightened up in the 10th minute by Maartje Goderie that cut across the Chinese goalkeeper Zhang Yimen. The second half continued to be dominated by the Dutch but they were unable to any further advantage of the Chinese. This was despite the fact that at one point of time the Chinese side was temporarily reduced to just 9. Netherlands failed to convert all of the penalty corners.
China too has its hopes pinned up on the Saturday match against the host team Great Britain, which again might not be a mean feat to achieve.
The U.S. women hockey team will now play against New Zealand this Saturday. New Zealand has already won the first two matches and the USA will need to device a better strategy to break the winning streak. New Zealand is now comfortably at the top in their group by six points.
There’s little time to be lost and the U.S. women’s hockey team needs to reboot as fast as they can. A study of the New Zealand defense system is in the order on Friday. Taking cues from the match against Australia, the U.S. needs to fine-tune its offensive and drive past the goalkeeper and not just the midfield and the circle.
Far from desperation, the need of the hour is a strategy that is consistent and at the same time, aggressive.