Last year, the American women were beaten in the Women’s World Cup final by Japan. It was a scarring defeat as the USA had led during extra time but gave up a late goal and subsequently lost the penalty kick shootout. This year, those memories were rekindled as the Olympic final again put USA and Japan in competition.
America apparently learned from their mistakes as thy played a much better game this time around. The majority of chances fell to them as Alex Morgan utilized her amazing speed to be a constant threat in the final third. Early in the game, she received the ball, and was able to chip in a lovely cross that Carli Lloyd headed in for a goal.
The USA never looked back. They continued to dominate and allowed Japan only the rare few chances which they failed to capitalize on. Hope Solo was incredible in the goal for America. She made numerous key saves to keep Japan demoralized throughout.
In the second half, Carli Lloyd struck again. After a wonderful run she blasted a long range strike into the bottom corner that was impossible to save. The goal doubled America’s lead and proved to be the vital winner. Japan tried to stage a comeback.
As time dwindled they pushed forward and found a few opportunities. America suddenly appeared lazy and a horrendous clearance off their own goal line fed the ball right to Japan in the box. After a smart pass, Japan had scored.
Then another terrible defensive error gave another chance to Japan, but Solo was able to make a brilliant diving save to block the score.
America played smart down the final stretch and were able to prevent any sniff of a comeback as they held onto the ball and defended well. They desperately tried to score another goal. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan both had several opportunities to score but just missed and grew increasingly frustrated.
But the Americans held firm and Japan seemed to lose their energy in the waning moments of the game. The whistle blew and America was a joy as they had earned their 4th gold medal in only 5 tries at the Olympics.
Such a feat is astounding in the modern game and simply shows how valuable Title IX has been at providing for women’s sports in this country. Although they were beaten at the World Cup, the American dominance in women’s soccer in the Olympics has proven time and again that they are at the world’s forefront of the game.