Sunday, August 7, 2016

Olympic 7s: U.S. Medal Hopes End Against New Zealand

The U.S. hopes of medaling at the 2016 Rio Olympics were ended in the quarterfinals with a narrow 5-0 loss to New Zealand. Building off their momentum from their draw against Australia earlier in the day the Women Eagles played tough but ultimately couldn't punch through a formidable defense. Although they fell short of their goal the team did their country proud and all American rugby fans should be in awe of their effort.

Against Australia the  U.S. saw success when they were able to keep possession and limit their opponents chances. That was the exact same playbook against New Zealand except they weren't able to find the space or capitalize on their chances. That was true early as the U.S. had the bulk of the possession only to see a knock-on or errant pass halt their effort. At the same time, New Zealand were also exhibiting tension with a number of penalties. The only difference came late in the half when Portia Woodman was finally able to break through the defense for the score. At the break New Zealand led 5-0.

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Trying to break through the defense the U.S. tried to find second half substitute Jessica Javelet with a couple of chips attempts only to come up empty. On one chip attempt it looked like Javelet was taken out without the ball around a chance to pounce on the ball in the try zone but a penalty try wasn't award. However, New Zealand were given a yellow card for a late hit prior to the chip attempt.

Now up a woman with just a couple of minutes left the U.S. had their best opportunity to break through. Unfortunately for them they were pushed into touch on a couple of occasions. That gave New Zealand the opening they needed to win down the clock and kick the ball out for a win.

The U.S. Women will naturally be upset they weren't able to score the winning try but they still showed plenty of fight to build on in the future. They will have the taste of coming so close to playing for a medal in their mouths for the next four years to fuel their development.

The U.S. will now play Fiji in the 5th-8th place semi-final at 1:00 p.m. et/10:00 a.m. pt tomorrow. The medal round will see Australia against Canada and Great Britain against New Zealand. All four of those teams have consistently been the best in the world over the last several years. 

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