The U.S. Olympic Team for Women’s Field Hockey fell to Spain, 3-2, in extra time at the Olympic Green Hockey Stadium on Wednesday. The result secured eighth place for the USA in their final game at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Spanish forward Rocio Ybarra scored a golden goal in the second half of extra time to lead Spain to the win and seventh place in the final standings.
The USA completed pool B play in fourth place with a record of one win, one loss and three draws. Spain finished fourth in Pool A with two wins and three losses.
Spain scored first with a penalty corner goal in the 8th minute from Spanish midfielder Ester Termens.
The USA answered on a penalty corner in the 30th minute. A strike from Kelly Doton (Greenfield, Mass. / Wake Forest) was stopped by the Spanish goalkeeper Maria Jesus Rosa, but midfielder Dana Sensenig (Denver, Pa. / Old Dominion) was able to collect the rebound and score the goal.
“It was very exciting,” said Sensenig. “It was pure joy. I was glad to share it with my teammates.”
The second half saw several scoring opportunities for both teams. The USA attacked early, but Spanish goalkeeper Maria Jesus Rosa made several quick saves.
In the 59th minute, Keli Smith (Selinsgrove, Pa. / Maryland) powered into the circle, flicking the ball to Angie Loy (Loysville, Pa. / Old Dominion) with an outstretched stick. Loy swiped at the ball and it slipped under Rosa for the 2-1 USA lead.
But the Spanish continued to pressure the American defense. With two minutes remaining, Spanish forward Raquel Heurtas cut through the American defense and launched a reverse shot. Goalkeeper Amy Tran (Grantville, Pa. / North Carolina) made the glove save, but the ball rebounded into the goal upright and ricocheted into the goal for the Spanish equalizer.
Regulation time expired, and the first extra-time period did not produce a result. With 90 seconds left before penalty strokes, Spain converted a penalty corner for the victory.
“The way the girls played throughout the tournament gave us a belief we could have come away with some more wins,” said USA Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. “It’s only our second major tournament in four years. We’re learning some hard lessons as the moment. It’s a process we need to go through, and we’re going to be better. But it’s a hard one to take along the way.” The USA Field Hockey Women’s National Team took the silver medal at the 2007 Pan American games.
“This team has taken a lot of punches along the way, and we continue to get up,” said USA midfielder and team captain Kate Barber (West Chester, Pa. / North Carolina). “We have nothing to be ashamed of. We played very well and gave it everything we could.”
“It was a hard effort for us,” said Spain Head Coach Pablo Usoz. “Spain and U.S. are at similar levels. Especially in the last match, when the players are tired and the players want to go home, they worked very hard.”
“For our first Olympics, I’m extremely proud of our performance,” said Barber. “We’ll take that away from this.”
Wednesday’s contest marked Defender Kelly Doton’s 100th international appearance.
The team is tentatively scheduled to appear live on the “Today Show” on Thursday, August 21. The segment will include a taped interview with NBC’s Tiki Barber and USA team captain Kate “Tiki” Barber.