|August 2nd, 2012|
|14||Pool B||10:45am||AUS - USA||1 - 0 (1 - 0)||Final|
Anna Flanagan provided the spectacular winner to keep Australia’s comeback on track and bring a semi-final berth very much into focus as they saw off USA in Pool B. The Americans will rue Lauren Crandall’s missed penalty stroke just before Flanagan netted her second goal of the tournament in the 33rd minute, the defining moments of a thoroughly entertaining tie.
A lively first period swung from end to end as Katie Reinprecht prompted the US attacks while Jade Close was a constant thorn down the right wing for Australia.Two Flanagan drag-flicks went close while Emily Smith and Megan Rivers were unable to pull the trigger after a delightful interchange into the circle.
Madonna Blyth was forced to pick off a diving tackle to deny Katie O’Donnell before Ashleigh Nelson was set free down the right but her shot skipped across the face of goal.USA’s big moment came when Rachel Dawson – on her birthday – cracked goalward only to his Jodie Schulz’s foot on the line. A stroke was awarded but Crandall’s effort – in the 28th minute – was brilliantly saved by Toni Cronk with the bottom of her glove onto the post. And they were duly punished as Flanagan set the radar for the top corner and this time was on the mark for a 33rd minute lead.
The second half was equally open but, despite some superb creative phases of play, Australia were unable to apply the finishing coat to their artwork while the US always had a spring in their step. Michelle Kasold’ rasping effort thudded into Cronk’s chest with the pick of their chances before Australia produced some glittering hockey. The move of the match saw Georgia Nanscawen twice involved to swivel and beat one player before finding Casey Eastham on the baseline. Her square ball was met with power by Kate Jenner but Amy Swensen got down low to deny the first time effort.
Soon after, Megan Rivers – in her 200th international match – slipped a chance wide from another swift move. The slender margin was put to the test late on when Michelle Gonzalez drew a save from Cronk with a powerful reverse. Despite the late pressure, Australia held on for a second win to add to the defeat of Germany, keeping their semi-final hopes in tact while majorly denting those of the US.
Lauren CRANDALL (USA)
On whether USA deserved something out of the match: "In sport there's never deserving, there's only winning. They got three points off of us today, we've got two more games left so we're looking to get some points off of those."
On Pool B being competitive: "No surprise there. We knew that all our competitors in pool B were gonna be tough. We're ranked number 10 in the world, so (we are) at the lower end of the pool, but we definitely don't see ourselves there. We know that every game here is going to be a tough one."
On New Zealand being a must-win match: "Yeah, I think every game is a must-win. You let points slip away and it hurts you in the end, so we're definitely looking to get three points out of the New Zealand game. We've got to refocus and get back to how we know how to play."
Toni CRONK - (AUS)
On making several crucial saves in the match, including a penalty save: "Hopefully it (the penalty save) gave the girls some energy to go forward and take their opportunities. I made that save and then we went and scored up the other end."
On how she prepares to save shots: "I just react. I've never actually done the pace of a stroke, but you have to react because they're quick. I just keep saying to myself 'you're quick enough, read it and react'."
On whether goalkeepers have to have a certain type of personality (mad): "No, not at all, I think we're actually the smartest, we wear all this padding and these girls run around with no clothes on, or no padding."
On whether she feels underrated when outfield players take all the glory: "No, not at all, definitely not. It's a hard slog being a goalie, but I love it and I wouldn't do anything else"
Georgia NANSCAWEN (AUS)
On their performance and what the victory means to the team: "We are very pleased. This win is very important for medal positions. It was a hard-fought game. We knew they would be very physical and put up a bit of fight."
On this being a must-win game: "Every game in the Olympics is a pressure game. They are all tough and we have a very tough pool."
On Australian support in the stands: "Crowd support always helps. It lifts you up when you are down and encourages you when you score goals"
Rachel DAWSON (USA)
On dominating the latter part of the second half, but not getting a goal: "I don't necessarily know why we managed to get it into Australia's circle, but not past their goalkeeper. Maybe we weren't determined enough and maybe our attempts at being determined were turned into desparation."
On the importance of this game over others: "I think obviously every game is important in a tournament like this where you have to be top two to make it through to the semifinals. I think there's pressure on every game so the pressure before this game wasn't more than for other games. We just came out a bit flat."
On Australia being a physical team: "Yes, I definitely think that we play a similar style. I think Australia are very similar to us in their physicality. It's a very fit and fast and, well, physical game and our coaches are Australian so there are some similiarities right there."