On Friday, August 12th, the Olympic women’s soccer tournament played their quarterfinal matches - and it was an exciting day of play, to say the least. For four teams, it would be their final game in these Olympic Games. Four more teams would be one step closer to the winning the gold medal.
The first game kicked off at noon, with the United States taking on Sweden. The United States was widely favored to win the match, although they knew that Sweden would be a difficult opponent. Still, the United States won their group and scored five goals in the group stage. Sweden came in third place, unable to beat teams like China and Brazil, and only scored two goals. But Sweden came out with a defensive style of play, attempting to hold off the United States offense and score on the counter attack. They did just that. Their goal came in the 61st minute from Stina Blackstenius. The United States would find a goal of their own in the 77th minute, scored by Orlando Pride Captain Alex Morgan. But at the end of regulation, they were still even. At the end of extra time, they were still even. This game was going to penalty shootouts, the first ever penalty shootout in Olympic women’s soccer history.
Alex Morgan took the first kick, which was saved by Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. Sweden made their first two penalty shots, but had the third one blocked by Hope Solo. Christen Press came on for the fifth kick, but her shot went over the goal. Sweden now had the opportunity to win. Lisa Dahlvist beat Hope Solo, and Sweden won the penalty shoot out and the match. This is the first time that the United States’ has not medaled in women’s soccer, and their first competitive loss in fourteen matches. Sweden will now go on to the semi-final matches on Tuesday.
The second game of the day was China v. Germany at 3:00pm. While Germany was favored to win the game due to international ranking and team history, some thought that China could take advantage of a weakened German side. The match was competitive, with both teams appearing to be evenly matched. In the end, Melanie Behringer found the back of the net for Germany in the 76th minute, giving them the win and sending them on to the semi-finals.
The third game of the day was France v. Canada at 6:00pm. This match was one of the most anticipated matches of the day. While France has one of the most talented rosters in the world, Canada came in undefeated in this Olympic tournament. The match was incredibly competitive. France appeared to control the play, but Canada found their moments near the French 18-yard line. In the 56th minute, Sophie Schmidt found the back of the net for Canada, after a beautiful pass from Janine Beckie. That goal was all they needed. Canada held off the French offense for the remainder of the game. Canada will now face Germany in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
The final game of the day found Brazil facing Australia. Orlando Pride Defenders Steph Catley and Laura Alleway got the start for Australia, and Pride Defender Monica Hickmann Alves received the start for Brazil. In the 20th minute of play, Catley went down with an injury and left the game, replaced by Chloe Logarzo. It was a physical match, with six yellow cards being given out, split evenly between the two sides. At the end of 90 minutes, it was 0-0. At the end of the extra time, it was still 0-0. The Olympic women’s soccer tournament was going into it’s second penalty shootout of the day.
In the shootout, both Alleway and Monica converted penalties for their respective teams. It looked like Australia might earn the win, as their keeper blocked Marta’s penalty shot. But the Brazilian defender would pull through, blocking two of Australia’s penalty shots and giving Brazil a 7-6 penalty shootout victory. Brazil will now play Sweden on Tuesday, August 16th.
The matchday was full of excitement, as favorites like the United States and France found early exits in the tournament. The games are wide open now; anyone can take home the goal. Will it be the host nation of Brazil? Or undefeated Canada? The tournament continues with the semi-finals on Tuesday, August 16th. Keep watching!