New Zeland upend Aussies in women's field hockey, Germany make semis
RIO DE JANEIRO >> New Zealand will have a shot at its first Olympic medal in women's field hockey after beating Australia 4-2 in the quarterfinals on Monday.
Also, one-time champion Germany scored early and held on to beat the United States 2-1 for its best result since 2012, before the last Olympics.
In the semifinals on Wednesday, New Zealand will play Britain or Spain, while Germany will take on defending champion the Netherlands or No. 2-ranked Argentina.
Contests between the trans-Tasman neighbors hardly constitute a rivalry because Australia dominates, and had lost to New Zealand in major competition only twice since the London Games.
But the Kiwis took only six minutes to get on the board first, through Anita McLaren from a penalty corner. At another corner, McLaren laid off to Kayla Whitelock, and Kelsey Smith deflected in for a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Australia was struggling to connect passes and find receivers, but a backlash was expected and Kathryn Slattery hit in a rebound from a short corner to halve the deficit.
But within six minutes, New Zealand's Stacey Michelsen attacked from the right, and her cross beat everyone except Gemma Flynn at the far post. Olivia Merry's reverse hit in was New Zealand's insurance goal with a quarter to go, as goalie Sally Rutherford and the defense limited the Hockeyroos to one more too-late Slattery goal.
Australia was out of medal contention for a fourth consecutive Olympics since the last of its three gold medals in Sydney in 2000, while New Zealand was through to the semifinals for the second straight games.
"That's why I came back," Whitelock said. "This team has got so much depth and we're just starting to click. If we keep playing the way we're playing, believing in ourselves and having the confidence, and executing our game plan, then that's going to get us through to that (gold) medal match."
Germany hit the Americans quick. Charlotte Stapenhorst attacked the circle, and Pia-Sophie Oldhafer's hit was put in by Marie Mavers, then on another attack from the right, Lisa Altenburg was fed and smacked in a reverse hit. Within 14 minutes, they were 2-0, and the Americans still hadn't had a shot on goal.
It evened up the rest of the way, but the defenses ruled in 36 degree (97 degrees F) heat.
The Americans brought some tension back when goalie Kristina Reynolds was finally bettered by Katelyn Falgowski's shot in off the stick of German defender Anne Schroder, but there was less than four minutes to go and the U.S. couldn't threaten.
Plus, they lost leading scorer Katie Bam, who hyper-extended her knee in a collision and limped off, much like her team, which had high hopes after reaching the 2014 World Cup semifinals and taking a bronze at the Champions Trophy in June.
"We have got stronger and stronger in the tournament," Germany midfielder Hannah Kruger said. "We've showed the world we can (win) important matches. Now we are dreaming for the semifinals."
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