USA Field Hockey NEWS China reaches final ...

China reaches final in women's field hockey

Aug. 20, 2008, 10:23 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Zhao Yudiao's goal in the 58th minute lifted China to a 3-2 win over Germany on Wednesday in the Olympic women's field hockey semifinals.

Sixth-ranked China advanced to the final to play No. 1 ranked Netherlands on Friday with a chance to add to the nation's large lead in gold medals. The Netherlands got three goals from Maartje Paumen to beat No. 2 Argentina 5-2 in the other semifinal.

China will reach the podium for the first time after using its speed advantage to defeat the defending Olympic champion Germans. The Chinese finished fourth at the 2004 games in Athens, and coach Kim Chang-back said the losses in the medal round that year set the tone for this accomplishment.

"It was a bloody lesson for us, and we remember that," Kim said.

The success in Beijing has emboldened Kim, who noted that no Asian women's team has won hockey gold at the Olympics. South Korea earned silver in 1996. The last Asian men's team to win gold was Pakistan in 1984.

"The day after tomorrow, we will change the world history of hockey," Kim said.

The Germans led 2-1 after a goal by Janine Beermann in the first minute of the second half. China answered three minutes later with a goal by Ma Yibo, then took the lead on Zhao's goal.

Germany had a chance to force extra time when they earned a penalty corner as time expired, but never got a shot off.

China originally was to play without Ma, the team captain, after two incidents late in Monday's match against Australia.

The International Hockey Federation said Chinese players Gao Lihua and goalkeeper Zhang Yimeng were guilty of major offenses against Australia, including Gao's contact with Japanese umpire Soma Chieko. The federation said Yibo was suspended because she didn't control her teammates.

The Chinese team appealed the decision, saying the punishment was too severe. It later was determined that Ma tried to prevent Gao from reaching the umpire, and her suspension was lifted. Both Ma and Gao scored goals against Germany.

The Netherlands ran away from Argentina. Paumen's third goal of the match, in the 47th minute, gave the Dutch a 4-0 lead. Argentina scored two late goals to make the final score look a bit better.

In early action, Spain defeated the United States 3-2 in the seventh-place game, with Rocio Ybarra scoring on a penalty corner late in the second extra period.

The Americans completed the tournament having earned a win against New Zealand and draws with Argentina, Japan and Britain. The team's other loss was to defending Olympic champion Germany.

In the opener, South Korea defeated Japan 2-1 for ninth place.