Olympic Games London 2012
London, Great Britain - July 29 - 10, 2012


Complicated situation in Pool B

August 2, 2012
Four teams have 6 points (two wins)

New Zealand vs. Argentina: 1-2 (half-time: 0-1)

Argentina redeemed themselves after losing to Pan American rivals of the USA two days ago. With their win over New Zealand, Pool B becomes complicated with four teams seating on 6 points (two wins and a loss).

Argentina started at full speed and earned two early penalty-corners. Noel Barrionuevo was not on target, but Carla Rebecchi managed to steal a ball between two defenders, rushed into the circle and left no chance to Bianca Russell in the Black Sticks’ goal to open the scoring in the 3rd minute of play.

New Zealand tried to settle down but stayed under intense pressure from Las Leonas, until the 20th minute when Krystal Forgesson forced a penalty-corner on one of their lone incursions in Argentinean territory. It generated three retakes: Clarissa Eshuis’ flick was blocked twice by the defense, then Katie Glynn’ powerful direct shot was deflected high by Florencia Mutio in the Argentinean goal.

The game was entertaining, flowing back and forth, with dangerous actions in both circles. The best chance was for Argentina with 3 minutes left in the period, on penalty-corner, but Barrionuevo’s flick was once again well defended by the Black Sticks and half-time was reached with a meagre lead for Argentina and the feeling that the match could go either way.

New Zealand pushed back Argentina on their heels at the beginning of second period and won a penalty-corner. They tried an option with Kayla Sharland but her low push was deflected by Florencia Mutio. The Black Sticks immediately created another golden opportunity by Gemma Flynn, then Cathryn Finlayson, doing the hardest part to split the whole Argentinean defense but unable to adjust a final shot alone in front of the keeper.

The scare was too much for Argentina and, on the counter-attack, Rosario Luchetti offered a gem to Carla Rebecchi, well positioned to score her second goal of the night and establish a more comfortable cushion for the World Champions. Play continued at high pace, probably the most exiting match of the day, and Charlotte Harrison reduced the gap to one goal with a spectacular diving deflection at the far post, setting up a torrid end of match.

The last five minutes of the match were intense, but no more goal were scored and the Argentinean fans were soon singing in the stands to celebrate the win for Las Leonas, which creates a complicated situation in Pool B with 4 teams (Argentina, New Zealand, Australia and Germany) having 6 points for their two wins and one loss.

For more information on NZL v ARG, click here.

South Africa vs. Germany 0-2 (half-time 0-1)

Germany earned their second win of the competition against a South African team that tried very hard, but could not convert the many chances they created.

Germany dominated the early stages of the match and had three penalty-corners in a row. Fanny Rinne hit the crossbar once but the other two attempts were well blocked by the South African runners. South Africa had a few counter-attacks, mostly through Marsha Marescia on the left, but could not penetrate dangerously in the German 25m.

Play became bogged down in midfield, with scarce circle action and little entertainment for the near capacity crowd. Shelley Russell and Sulette Damons combined well on the right wing to produce a golden opportunity for Jennifer Wilson arriving fast in the circle but she could not reach the crossed ball despite a spectacular dive. It was finally Marie Mävers who opened the scoring at the other end for Germany, deflecting from close range an excellent ball driven in the circle by Natascha Keller after a powerful run through the South African defenders.

With not much pace in the match, and unforced errors by both teams, the score did not evolve until half-time, reached with the lone goal for Germany.

South Africa were dangerous at the beginning of second period and Kathleen Taylor could have tied the game when she received the ball alone in front of Yvonne Frank but the German goalkeeper did well to prevent her to shoot. The Germans were on their heels, showing worrying defensive weaknesses, and Pietie Coetzee also had a good chance on goal. Germany somehow survived the storm and earned a penalty corner after a counter-attack. Fanny Rinne was able to run through the defenders and slam the ball in for the second German goal.

South Africa were however not down yet and shook dangerously the German defense a few more times with Jennifer Wilson at the conclusion of a swift counter-attack by Sulette Damons, then by Dirkie Chamberlain who stole a ball between two defenders but could not adjust a shot on target. South Africa also earned a penalty-corner, but Pietie Coetzee’s powerful flick was well handled by Yvonne Frank.

Germany managed to progressively turn the tide around and push the danger away from their circle. They controlled play in the final minutes of the match to earn in lacklustre manner their second win of the competition, leaving South Africa still pointless after three matches.

(Yan Huckendubler)

For more information on RSA v GER, click here.

Australia vs USA 1-0 (1-0 half-time)

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.

(Stephen Findlater)

For more info on AUS vs USA, click here


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