|July 31st, 2012|
|7||Pool A||8:30am||NED - JPN||3 - 2 (2 - 0)||Final|
First match of the second day of women’s Olympic competition was between defending Olympic Champions The Netherlands, first in the FIH World Rankings, and Japan. The Netherlands opened their 2012 Olympic campaign with a win over Belgium (3-0) while Japan, ranked 9th in the world, suffered a severe defeat against host Great Britain (0-4).
The Dutch women were fast of the blocks in the chilly and rainy early morning, and Kim Lammers had a first chance within the first minute of play. She was on target soon after, receiving in front of the empty net a pass from Kitty van Male who had run through the whole Japanese defense on the right of the circle. Lammers could have added a similar goal a few minutes later, but the ball just eluded her stick after a spectacular dive.
The steady rain was affecting the pace of play and half way through the period the Japanese took advantage of some unusual unforced errors from the Dutch defense to create dangerous situations in the circle. They earned a penalty-corner that they failed to control, then The Netherlands progressively settled their game and took control of play. Ellen Hoog added a second goal after an outstanding move to eliminate two defenders and slam a reverse shot that surprised Sakiyo Asano in the Japanese goal.
Second period resumed in the same unspectacular way. The crowd bundled up in colorful ponchos were finally given an opportunity to cheer when Kim Lammers scored her second goal of the day (her fourth of the tournament) from a golden pass by Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel after a decisive run on the backline. Japan scored their first goal of the Olympic competition soon after by Rika Komazawa, on hand at the far post to deflect a cross that had eluded all the defenders. They immediately added a second goal on a penalty-corner, Aki Mitsuhashi deflecting the ball from close range above Joyce Sombroek in the Dutch goal.
With 15 minutes to go, the match did not seem a formality any more for the defending Olympic Champions, and the Japanese and Dutch fans became more vocal to push the teams. Lidewij Welten nearly added a fourth goal after a powerful run through the Japanese defense but saw her shot rebound on the post. The end of match was tense and passionate, with the Japanese pushing desperately for the equalizer and the Dutch using all their experience to keep them at bay and protect their narrow lead until the final hooter.
The Netherlands grab their second win of the competition, but surely will not be satisfied with their lacklustre performance of the day.
Ellen HOOG (NED)
On the game: "We are satisfied with the two wins and six points, but today we were not very good so we have things we can work on. We were not playing together and as a team, and we were not very sharp."
On her suspension in the second half of the game: "I was angry with myself for getting sent off, but I thought it was a green card not a yellow one. It was hard when JAPAN scored while I was sent off."
On the way the game went generally: "We should have beaten the Japanese team more easily. But you know they are always a tough team to play. They are fast and good in defence. We didn't play as well as we usually play, maybe because it was so early in the morning. We didn't work so well as a team. The team didn't gel like it usually does. We have had a team talk and we will be better next time."
Joyce SOMBROEK (NED)
On her role as Netherlands goal keeper: "I started playing in goal when I was 12. I thought it was a very challenging position and a very individual one with a lot of responsibility. I work closely with the rest of the defence team to keep our goal well defended."
On the way the game went: "The Japanese are a dangerous team to play. We should have played better. We didn't get many corners away."
On the expectations surrounding Netherlands as defending champions: "The expectations on us are high, we know that, but we expect a lot of ourselves. We have got 6 points out of 2 games so we are on our way."
Rika KOMAZAWA after her team lost 3-2 to Netherlands in their pool A match at the Riverbank Arena on Tuesday.
On the match: "Holland are a very good team. We managed to score two goals against Holland so it was a really good result."
On being defensive in the first half: "The tactic in the first half was to be solid in defence because Holland are stronger. We were too defensive though and should have attacked more."
On an improved second-half performance: "After losing the first half we wanted to challenge more. The goal gave the team more confidence."