The women's classification stage started today with the matches for 9th and 7th places between Korea and Japan and Spain and the USA respectively. Korea defeated Japan narrowly to take ninth place, while Spain had to take the USA to extra time to defeat them on golden goal and claim seventh place.
In the first semi-final, China delighted the home crowd with a convincing semi-final win against Olympic Champions Germany, reaching the Olympic Final for the first time.
The second semi-final was a one sided affair, with The Netherlands triumphing 5:2 over Argentina. Maartje PAUMEN scored a hat-trick to break the record for the most goals at a single Olympic tournament, with 11 to her name.
For full match details, see the reports below.
Korea defeat Japan 2:1 (1:0)
The match for ninth place, the first of the day, started off slowly with slight advantages on the Koreans' side which soon translated into a tangible lead as Jeong Sook Park deflected a Seon Ok Lee hit into the goal on a penalty corner hit.
After a first half without great highlights, the teams thus went into half time with Korea 1:0 in the lead. When they came back for the second half however, Japan shifted up a gear, and drew level with a goal through Rika Komazawa who volleyed a long pass into the net.
The joy was shortlived however, as minutes later, Korea restored the one goal lead when Jeong Sook Park dived in to deflect a Darae Kim Ball across the face of the goal over the line.
Korea went on to put a lot of pressure on their opponents, pushing to double their lead for safety but they couldn't. A yellow card for Jin Kyoung Kim late in the match didn't help but the Koreans were able to hold on to their lead until the final whistle sounded to pronounce them 9th in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Hockey Tournament.
Spain defeat USA 2:2 (1:1) 3:2 Golden Goal
The other morning match saw Spain take on USA for seventh place. Spain found their rhythm faster and were rewarded by an early goal from Esther Termens on a penalty corner as the ball was laid off to the left for Nuria Camon, then played towards the post by her for Termens to push it over the line.
After this good start from Spain that saw them onto the scoreboard however, USA slowly awoke and took charge of the match, dominating the proceedings rather clearly towards the end of the half. They were also able to level the scores in this phase, with Dana Sensenig slapping in the rebound off a Kelly Doton penalty corner hit.
The bigger part of the second half went by uneventfully, with the USA still the slightly stronger team, but both teams had a few opportunities. With about ten minutes to go, things heated up considerably with Esther Termens, Carrie Lingo and Nuria Camon all picking up yellow cards in a ten minute span.
There were also two goals in that same ten minutes span, with Angie Loy volleying a Keli Smith hit into the circle into the net and Raquel Huertas sinking a last minute reverse stick hit to force the match into extra time.
Spain looked stronger at the beginning of the additional 15 minutes, but then started struggling in the face of a US team mustering the last reserves. The Spanish were the lucky ones eventually though, winning a penalty corner in the last minute of over time that Rocio Ybarra converted to the golden goal with a deft hit past Amy Tra.
Spain thus finished 7th in the 2008 Beijing hockey competition, leaving the USA to take 8th place.
China defeated Germany 3:2 (1:1)
China delighted the home crowd with a convincing semi-final win against Olympic Champions Germany, reaching the Olympic Final for the first time.
In a game that was a rematch of the semi-final in Athens four years ago, Germany started strongly and opened the scoring in the 4th minute with an opportunistic goal by Natascha KELLER taking advantage of a confuse situation in front of the goal to slot the ball on the far post after missing her first attempt.
Both teams played nervously for most of the period and committed multiple unforced errors, but China progressively overwhelmed the German defense which was saved in multiple occasions by a stellar performance by Kristina REYNOLDS in goal. China finally leveled the score in the 31st minute by Lihua GAO, left totally alone in the circle by the outpaced German defense.
Germany started the second period with another quick goal, this time by Janine BEERMANN pushing in goal a ball that had eluded the Chinese defense after a spectacular cross by Maike STOECKEL. Their relief was short-lived, Yibo MA leveling the score only 3 minutes later on a penalty-corner. It was the first penalty-corner goal for China in this competition after 20 unsuccessful attempts, an unusually low ratio for a team reaching the Olympic semi-final.
China controlled most of the play from then on and Germany was only kept afloat by the repeated exploits of Kristina REYNOLDS in goal, including 3 successive saves on shots from close range in the middle of a messy scramble. The inevitable happened in the 58th minute when Baorong FU ran the ball in the circle around a German defender and crossed the ball for Yudiao ZHAO to bat it in goal.
Germany earned a last second penalty-corner but could not convert it, triggering wild celebrations from the Chinese players on the field and their ecstatic fans in the stands.
The Netherlands defeat Argentina 5:2 (3:0)
The Netherlands destroyed Argentina with a devastating performance in the second of the Olympic semi-finals, with Maartje PAUMEN scoring a hat trick to break the women’s record for the most goals in a single Olympic hockey tournament. The Netherlands were by far the better side, and dominated the match from start to finish. PAUMEN scored two powerful penalty corners (9min / 25min) before Marilyn AGLIOTTI added a third in the 31st minute, flicking into the goal following a brilliant run and shot from Ellen HOOG (31min). That goal effectively killed the match before half time, but there was still more to come from The Netherlands.
Pauman added another penalty corner in the 47th minute to complete her hat-trick before Marine Russo pulled a goal back for her side with a shot that took a deflection from a Netherlands stick before flying into the net. Ellen HOOG scored the goal of the game in the 68th minute when she picked up the ball on the left before beating two Argentina defenders and the goalkeeper before hitting into an empty net. It was a goal that she fully deserved, having been arguably the best player on the field. Alejandra GULLA scored close range goal a minute later, but it was too late to have any impact on the match. The Netherlands were deserving winners, and will be a favourites to take Gold against China on Friday.
2008 Olympic Games, Women – Beijing, China
Results Wednesday 20 August
Korea - Japan 2:1 (1:0)
KOR Jeong Sook PARK (PC) 12min
JPN Rika KOMAZAWA (FG) 43min
KOR Jeong Sook PARK (FG) 49min
Spain - USA 2:2 (1:1) 3:2 GG
ESP Esther TERMENS (PC) 8min
USA Dana SENSENIG (PC) 30min
USA Angie LOY (FG) 59min
ESP Raquel HUERTAS (FG) 68min
ESP Rocio YBARRA (PC) 84min
Germany – China 2:3 (1:1)
GER Natascha KELLER (FG) 4mn
CHN Lihua GAO (FG) 31mn
GER Janine BEERMANN (FG) 36mn
CHN Yibo MA (PC) 39mn
CHN Yudiao ZHAO (FG) 58mn
The Netherlands – Argentina 5:2 (3:0)
NED Maartje PAUMEN (PC) 9min
NED Maartje PAUMEN (PC) 25min
NED Marilyn AGLIOTTI (FG) 31min
NED Maartje PAUMEN (PC) 47min
ARG Marine RUSSO (FG) 59min
NED Ellen HOOG (FG) 68min
ARG Alejandra GULLA (FG) 69min