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US women field hockey team ousted, China advances

Aug. 18, 2008, 11:52 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) The U.S. women's field hockey team will have at least four years to think about its missed opportunities at the Beijing Olympics.

The Americans entered Monday with only an outside chance of making the medal round, but that opportunity evaporated in a scoreless tie with Britain.

The United States needed a win and some help from New Zealand against Argentina to reach the semifinals.

But the Americans failed to score against Britain. They had 11 penalty corners, but never converted. Seven came in the first half, including one with time expired.

"We set out a game plan that we thought would be successful," U.S. coach Lee Bodimeade said. "We executed about 99 percent of it. At the end of the day, it's how many times you put the ball in the net."

It wasn't just Monday's close call the Americans will ponder. The Americans, ranked 11th in the world, had draws with No. 2-ranked Argentina, No. 5 Japan and No. 9 Britain. Their only loss was to Germany.

Argentina went on to defeat New Zealand 3-2 and advance, rendering the shaky U.S. performance moot. Still, the Americans wanted a better result.

"We worked hard to make sure we were in the Olympics," team captain Kate Barber said. "Our goal was to be on the podium, but we missed out on points to make that happen."

In the nightcap, China and Australia tied 2-all. China advanced to the quarterfinals because of goal differential, while Australia was eliminated. The semifinals will match defending Olympic champion Germany against host China and No. 1 ranked Netherlands against No. 2 Argentina on Wednesday.

The Americans won their Olympic qualifier in April and made it to the Olympics for the first time since getting an automatic bid as the host nation in 1996. They haven't medaled since 1984.

Bodimeade said given those factors, the U.S. played well in its pool.

"We lost one game," he said. "We drew against teams ranked ahead of us. We had no Olympic experience."

The U.S. will play Spain in the seventh-place game, and Barber said the Americans will take it seriously.

"It is disappointing and frustrating, but we are going to come out, no matter what position we are fighting for, and we are going to play our hardest," she said.

Germany clinched first place in Pool B with a 1-0 win over Japan. Janine Beermann scored in the 40th minute as the Germans bounced back from Saturday's 4-0 loss to Argentina.

The Netherlands defeated Spain 2-0 to win Pool A with a perfect 5-0 record.

South Korea defeated South Africa 5-2 in a matchup of winless teams that had already been eliminated from medal contention. The Koreans got two goals from Lee Seon-ok in the first half and took a 4-0 lead at halftime. South Africa scored its only two goals of the tournament in the second half.