Revenge was a dish best served gold for the U.S. Women’s National Team on Thursday as the Americans defeated the Japanese 2-1 in the Gold Medal Match of the 2012 London Olympics and avenged a penalty kick loss in the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
Through the leadership of veteran striker Abby Wambach and a pair of goals from midfielder Carli Lloyd, the United States nearly led from start-to-finish despite giving Japan multiple chances to get back into the match.
Lloyd’s diving header at 8’, off a perfect cross from forward Alex Morgan, put the Americans on top 1-0. Wambach was also in the area and could just as easily have kicked in the first goal of the match.
U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo was tested early and often by the Japanese, making a huge stop at 19’ and another at 38’ with the help of the crossbar to allow the United States to take a 1-0 lead into the half.
Lloyd came through again after the break, dribbling through three defenders and striking a ball into the far corner of the net at 56’ to put the Americans on top 2-0.
However, just minutes later, the Japanese cut their deficit in half when Yuki Ogimi grabbed a rebound off of a deflection from Solo and put it into the back of the net at 64’.
The United States held on for the remainder of the match with Solo making another fantastic save to starve off a game-tying goal from Japan in the waining minutes of regulation, giving the Americans their third gold medal in as many Olympics and fourth in the last five games.
The contest between the Americans and Japanese was seen by 80,203 patrons at Wembley Stadium, a record crowd for an Olympic women’s soccer match.
Wambach took home her second career Olympic gold medal, and fellow former Florida Gators soccer star Heather Mitts captured her third despite only seeing action in one game over the course of the Olympics.
Wambach played full time in every match and scored a goal in each of the first five contests. She has increased her scoring total to 143 goals in 188 international matches and is just 16 away from tying Mia Hamm for most all-time.
Joining Wambach and Mitts in celebrating an Olympic soccer medal on Thursday was Canadian reserve Melanie Booth who was added as an injury replacement early in the games and was awarded a bronze when her team defeated France 1-0 on Thursday morning. The United States took down Canada 4-3 in extra time on Monday.
Though Mitts plans to retire from professional soccer, Wambach has promised to return for the 2016 Rio Olympics in hopes of winning her third gold medal.
For a recap of the match with stats, a full schedule (including updated events), live stream links and a Gator Nation vs. The World medal count, be sure to check out OGGOA’s Live Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics.
Photo Credit: Associated Press