LONDON – It was not the way the U.S. had hoped to start their Olympic campaign. Under the lights of Riverbank Arena, in the final match of opening day, Germany defeated the U.S. 2-1. Had there been extra time on the clock, the result easily could have been reversed.
“There were certainly some positives to come out of tonight’s game, but in the end the cold hard fact is we gave up two goals to the world’s No. 3 ranked team,” said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. “We are looking forward to facing Argentina, a very familiar opponent for us. It is well documented that we qualified for the Olympics by beating them in the Pan American Games. We feel we match up well against them and will be expecting to elevate our performance as we will have to, to get the result we need.”
Fanny Rinne, the experienced German veteran with 335 caps to her name, struck early on a penalty corner. Rinne’s drag flick was perfectly placed in the upper right corner of the cage and out of U.S. goalkeeper Amy Swensen’s (Grantville, Pa.) reach.
Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa.) and Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa.) were strong on the front line, creating space for scoring opportunities, but were unable to capitalize in the first half.
Lisa Hahn recorded a field goal at the 21 minute mark to increase the lead by two. Hahn sent a reverse chip shot sent high and to the left corner of Swensen’s cage.
The U.S. came out attacking in the second half, applying resilient pressure and firing several shots on goal. The U.S. earned four penalty corners and Claire Laubach (Centreville, Va.), who celebrated her 29th birthday today, was called to take the first three. Her third was successful and touched by captain Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.) for a tally on the boards.
The U.S. was inches away from scoring an equalizer on their fourth penalty corner, but a foul in the circle prevented a second goal.
“We did not come out as ready to play as we would have liked and Germany punished us for it,” said Crandall. “They put in two great goals and we knew we had to up our game in the second half. I think we had some pre-game jitters at the start and those two goals from the first half hurt us in the end.”
“I think our first half play had a lot to do with nerves,” said Keli Smith Puzo (Selinsgrove, Pa.) “It was the first game of the Olympics and it just took us too long to get into the game. We knew we had to come out fighting in the second half and that is what we did. We put Germany under a lot of pressure and that was really the game turner. We are going to build on this first game and come out stronger, early on in the next game.”
Up next is Argentina.
Get ready as Pan American rivals meet again in what is bound to be a nail-biting, fierce competition. Argentina will be looking for a vengeance and the U.S. will fight to prove the victory last fall was not a fluke. Tune in to MSNBC at 2:00pm ET to catch some of the live action.
Argentina boasts three medals from an Olympic Games, but has yet to claim gold. They kicked off their Olympic campaign with a dominant, 7-1, performance over South Africa.
USA Field Hockey Press Release