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US women top Japan for Olympic gold, 2-1

Carli Lloyd (left) celebrates with her team after scoring her first of two goals against Japan as she led them to a victory to win their third-straight Olympic gold medal.

It was a shocking result a year ago when the United States women’s soccer team was upset by Japan in the World Cup finals but today they got some redemption and walked away with maybe an even bigger prize, an Olympic gold medal.

While in their semi-finals match it was winger Megan Rapinoe to step up and get two crucial goals, in the finals it was the hero from the 2008 finals in Beijing, Carli Lloyd, who stepped up and scored twice to lead the Americans to an 2-1 victory.

In the eighth minute Tobin Heath brought the ball up the field and played it in to Alex Morgan, who from just next to the goal on the left side crossed it in front of the goal to an open Abby Wambach but Lloyd swooped in and headed the ball straight into the back of the net to give the United States a one-goal lead.

Japan went on the attack after that and had a few very good opportunities to even the score, none more dangerous than in the 17th minute when Nahomi Kawasumi beat Solo to the far post but center back Christie Rampone got her foot in the way to keep it out. Yuki Ogimi got the rebound off her foot but solo was able to get in front of it.

In the 19th minute Shibobu Ohno and Ogimi ripped off successive shots but Hope Solo showed why she is the best goalkeeper in the world and knocked both of them away. The barrage was not done because not even a minute later Ogimi took another attempt but Solo got her fingers on it to change the trajectory and it was rejected by the crossbar.

Solo was helped out again by the crossbar in the 32nd minute when Aya Miyama had her beat high but could not get the ball in the net.

Despite Japan’s dominance after the United State went up on the scoreboard, USA was able to take their one-goal lead into the break. Two minutes out it, though, the United State got a lucky no-call on a free kick by Japan which could have resulted in a penalty kick. Mizhuho Sakaguchi lined up for an attempt at the goal and Saki Kumagai went to head it in but was wrapped up by the USA defender and taken to the ground as Solo punched it out of danger.

Lloyd broke even play from them on in the 56th minute when she ran right down the field with the ball, moved toward the right side and ripped it to the far post to double the United States’ lead.

Japan finally broke through in the 63rd minute when the defense made yet another great block on the line after Solo was beaten but they failed to clear it and Ogimi chipped it in, giving a whole new life to their team.

Lloyd nearly completed her hat trick in the 70th minute. Wambach was fouled 35 yards out and gave the United States a free kick. Rapinoe struck the ball and it was headed straight down in front of the goal. Lloyd was running on it and would have scored but Miho Fukumoto got to it first.

Japan was able to control the game with possessions and had opportunities to tie the game. Their biggest chance to tie the game was in the 82nd minute. Azusa Iwashimizu made Rampone look foolish and got by her for a one-on-one shot against the goal keeper but Solo completely stretched out and swatted it away to preserve their third-straight gold medal and fourth overall in the five Olympics that have hosted women’s soccer.

And you know what…performance grades are not needed. They won this game and deserve all the credit.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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