LONDON — For the third consecutive Olympics, the U.S. women’s soccer team has won the gold medal. The U.S. team won a 2-1 victory over Japan..
This was expected to be a tightly contested match, and the two finalists did not disappoint the Olympic women’s soccer record crowd of 80,203.
The U.S. women got on the scoreboard early, tallying in the 8th minute on a header from midfielder Carli Lloyd. While the Japanese mounted serious threats throughout the first half, the Americans clung to the 1-0 lead.
Lloyd made it 2-0 on a hard, curling kick inside the right post in the 54th minute. Yuki Ogimi scored from close range for Japan in the 63rd minute, to make it 2-1.
If not for a brilliant, diving save by U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, Japan would have had the equalizer in the 83rd minute.
Solo had a number of good saves, and she said she was glad she could come up big when it counted.
“I was hoping my time would come. I want to make an impact on the game, and usually in every tournament, in my experience, there is one game where you have to have an impact. It hadn’t come in five games. So I was hoping it would come, and I kind of had a feeling it would,” Solo said.
U.S. coach Pia Sundhage was proud of the way her players were able to change tactics from their pre-game plan because of the way Japan was playing.
“The way we defended and played with a huge heart, so even though we had a very good team we played against, when it really mattered in the final in Wembley, we won the gold medal. And I give a lot of credit to the players, they way they played,” Sundhage said.
These two teams met in last year’s women’s World Cup final in Germany, and Japan upset the number one-ranked U.S. team on penalty kicks 3-1.
Japanese coach Norio Sasaki, through an interpreter, said his team believed they could win the Olympic gold medal as well, but they should not be disappointed with how they played.
“Even though we got defeated, they all played very well, and there’s nothing we should be ashamed of. So I think all of those players should be proud of themselves with the silver medals, and they should have feelings of accomplishment,” Sasaki said.
This was Japan’s first medal in the five times women’s soccer has been part of the Summer Olympics. The United States has won four of the five gold medals and one silver.
Earlier in the day in Coventry, Canada edged France in the bronze medal game, 1-0, for its first medal in women’s Olympic soccer.