LONDON – The U.S. had high hopes of finishing their rocky Olympic campaign on a high note. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for Team USA this morning. Their final match at Riverbank Arena in London’s Olympic Park ended with a disappointing 2-1 loss to Belgium, leaving the U.S. with a last place finish in the tournament.
“We are disappointed to be finishing where we have here and this outcome is a bitter pill to swallow,” said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. “I felt that we had enough chances in the first half to put the game out of Belgium’s reach, but they were tough and hung in and got two goals when we were unable to do so.”
Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa.) opened the scoring and tallied her first Olympic goal in the 7th minute of play.
Not long after, Belgium began to find a rhythm and sent a reverse shot past Amy Swensen (Grantville, Pa.) in goal for the equalizer. Despite three penalty corners for the U.S., the score remained a 1-1 draw at the end of the half.
Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, Va.) thought she recorded a second goal for the U.S., but a video review showed there was a foul prior to the shot and her goal was denied. Belgium quickly capitalized on Team USA’s disappointment by converting on a penalty corner.
Desperate to even the score at two apiece, the U.S. replaced Swensen in cage for an additional attacking field player with a little over eight minutes to go on the clock. Their gambit wasn’t enough. Belgium finished one goal and one placement ahead of the U.S.
“We have finished where we deserved to,” said Rachel Dawson. “We just didn’t take our chances in this tournament so 12th place is what we go home with. It’s been a humbling experience for us all. Humility gives you the desire to work harder and teaches you the discipline to execute better games. We’ve done an OK job here, but we know we can be better.”
The U.S. went 1-4 in the preliminary rounds of the Olympic tournament. The one win was to Argentina, who will play in the gold medal match against the Netherlands this evening. The dominant performance and powerful 1-0 victory over Pan American rival Argentina (again) proved that the U.S. can hold its own with the very best in world. ?
“It’s been so close every game, but not gone our way. In our games against opponents ranked higher than us, we took it to them and kind of shocked the world,” said Katie O’Donnell.
“We have amazing kids coming up,” Keli Smith-Puzo said. “The young talent is going to be amazing. I think Rio 2016 is going to be a completely different team.”
Puzo, the two-time Olympian and mother-of-two put on her Olympic uniform one last time today.
“I will miss playing but I know it is the right time for me to move on in my life. It is definitely a bittersweet moment. I am looking forward to helping inspire other young athletes.”
“Keli’s performance is shown that she is worthy of being a duel Olympian,” said Bodimeade. “What Keli has brought to this group isn’t really identified from the outside but is certainly known on the inside.”
Despite the final the result, the U.S. was one of twelve teams in the world to qualify for the Olympic Games and has represented Team USA on the world’s largest sporting stage.
“I’ve really enjoyed competing here and London has been a brilliant host city. Our results are disappointing so it’s hard to fully enjoy it right now, but I do feel very blessed to have been a part of it,” said Dawson.
“I think London has done an amazing job,” said captain Lauren Crandall. “Riverbank Arena was very nice and playing in front of packed crowds was very special. We knew we had a high task to compete and try to get wins against good competition and we fell short of that. Yes, we are all disappointed in how we finished and how we played, but we look forward to coming back, competing and representing Team USA again.”
USA Field Hockey Press Release