On Tuesday, the women’s soccer tournament played the final stage of their group play. For four teams, it would be the last game they played in these Olympic Games. For others, this final match would determine who won the group and who they would play in the Quarterfinals.
The day kicked off at 3:00pm, with Australia taking on Zimbabwe and Canada taking on Germany. Australia was looking for a chance to take second place in the group, but they would have to make up a steep goal differential and Canada would have to win. Canada did their part, beating Canada 2-1 in an intense match. Orlando Pride Defender Josée Bélanger returned to her day’s of playing forward with the Canadian National Team, starting the game up top. But both of Canada’s goals came from Melissa Tancredi, who is playing in her last Olympic tournament. Germany’s lone goal came off a penalty kick from Melanie Behringer. While Germany had plenty of shots, none could get past Canada’s incredible goalkeeper, Stephanie Labbé.
Australia’s match against Zimbabwe couldn’t have gone much better. The Matildas went up 3-0 at the end of the first half, with goals Lisa De Vanna, Clare Polkinghorne, and Alanna Kennedy. The second half would earn them three more goals, one by Kyah Simon and two by Michelle Heyman. But to take second place, they would need to score one more goal and hold off Zimbabwe. They failed to do both, with Zimbabwe earning their goal in the 91st minute. Zimbabwe leaves their first Olympic tournament having scored in each of their matches, and Australia finishes off in third place.
Two more games kicked off at 6:00pm. The United States faced Colombia and New Zealand took on France. The United States were already in a good place to win their group, needing only a draw to claim victory. France needed to win their game and the United States to lose in order to take first place. For New Zealand and Colombia, it was a fight for their lives.
While France and New Zealand started off as a competitive match, France dominated after Eugenie Le Sommer scored their first goal in the 38th minute. The second half was all about France, with Louisa Camaduro scoring two goals and earning France a commanding victory. For a team that often struggles to score, three goals and three points was a big win for France’s confidence.
For the United States, Tuesday night’s match against Colombia was not a must-win. They sat a lot of their key starting players, including Orlando Pride Captain Alex Morgan. Colombia took advantage off the opportunity, with Catalina Usme scoring a goal off a free kick in the 26th minute. The United States answered with a goal of their own, from Washington Spirit Forward Crystal Dunn in the 41st minute. In the second half, the United States scored again, with Forward Mallory Pugh earning her first Olympic goal in the 60th minute. The United States felt confident in their ability to finish off the match, but in the 90th minute, Usme took another free kick and curved the ball into the goal, earning Colombia a 2-2 draw.
The final two games kicked off at 9:00pm. Brazil faced South Africa, and China faced Sweden. For China and Sweden, their game would determine who came in second in the group and who came in third. For Brazil and South Africa, the game was largely unimportant-- Brazil had already won their group, and South Africa had already lost. But the game provided an opportunity for Brazil to show off their skills to a home crowd eager to see them go far.
Both games ended in a scoreless draw, giving China what it needed to claim second place in the group. Brazil was disappointed they couldn’t score against a struggling South African side, but they still claim first in the group and will go on to the Quarterfinals.
The Quarterfinals will kickoff on Friday, August 12th. The first game starts at 12:00pm, as the United States takes on Sweden. Following that match, China will take on Germany at 3:00pm, followed by Canada vs. France at 6:00pm. The evening will conclude with host nation Brazil taking on Australia at 9:00pm.