Olympic Games Match 2 Preview - Japan

Aug. 11, 2008, 12:45 a.m. (ET)

The U.S. Olympic Team for Women’s Field Hockey faces Japan Tuesday, August 12 at the Olympic Green Hockey Stadium, Pitch B. Game time is 6:00pm. The match will be televised live on USA and USA-HD at 6:00am Eastern.

The USA rallied in dramatic fashion to draw 2-2 with second-ranked Argentina on Sunday. After falling behind 2-0 early, the Americans persisted through a heavy downpour to claim a goal from striker Keli Smith (Selinsgrove, Pa. / Maryland) before halftime. With five minutes remaining in the game and victory in sight for Argentina, U.S. striker Angie Loy (Loysville, Pa. / Old Dominion) chipped a shot from Kelly Doton (Greenfield, Mass. / Wake Forest) past Argentina goalkeeper Paola Vukojicic for the second U.S. goal. The USA actually had an opportunity to win the game in the final seconds, but Argentina successfully defended the American penalty corner. U.S. goalkeeper Amy Tran (Grantville, Pa. / North Carolina), celebrating her 100th international appearance, made several brilliant saves.

The draw was a tremendous momentum and confidence boost for the eleventh-ranked USA, who aim to show they belong on the Olympic Games stage after sitting out since 1996.   

Japan, ranked number six in the world, qualified for the Olympic Games as the 2006 Asian Games silver medalists, outscoring the field 35-2 in pool play before falling to eventual champions China in the gold medal match.

Japan took the lead in Pool B early on Sunday morning with a 2-1 victory over the seventh-ranked New Zealand team. Sakae Morimoto and Toshie Tsukui scored two goals in the opening 20 minutes. The Japan defense held off New Zealand in the second half, despite the Kiwis’ edge in possession time.

Japan’s team captain Akemi  Kato is the oldest player in the women’s field hockey competition at 37. Kaori Chiba and Tomomi Komori are the lead strikers.

Following Sunday’s game, team manager Masashi Onda spoke about Tuesday’s game with the USA: “We will watch the USA’s game against Argentina tonight and study the tactics of their play. We will work out our own strategy about how to beat them. It is very important for us to win the second game against the USA.”

The USA has faced Japan seven times in official international competition, most recently twice in the 2006 World Cup in pool play and crossover play. The USA is 1-2-4 overall against Japan, with the victory coming in 2000 during the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Milton Keyes, England.

In other Pool B play on Sunday, Germany defeated Great Britain 5-1.

For media and interview requests in Beijing, contact Jeff Gamza at 13910824442.

For more information about the U.S. Olympic Team for Field Hockey, visit fieldhockey.teamusa.org.

For more information on USA Field Hockey, visit www.usafieldhockey.com .