London 2012, Women’s Pool B: Germany 2-1 USA.

Goals from Fanny Rinne and Lisa Hahn gave Germany a 2-1 win in their opening game, however a spirited second half display from the Americans gave their illustrious opponents a huge scare.

The Germans had already tested Amy Tran-Swensen in the USA goal with Janne Muller-Wieland going close with a shot on the volley, which the former FIH World All Star did well to keep out.

There was no such luck for Tran-Swensen in the ninth minute when Captain Fanny Rinne gave her no chance with a fierce penalty corner which went into the roof of the net.

The United States were working hard, but were finding the Germans’ composed defence difficult to break down. Paige Selenski went close after driving across the D, but her shot went wide when she should really have done better.

Germany doubled their lead with a fine goal; Muller-Wieland found Lisa Hahn in the D and her blistering reverse stick shot beat Tran-Swensen at the near post.

Both sides forced penalty corners however; Yvonne Frank made a comfortable save in the German goal before Nina Hasselmann missed the ball completely with the goal at her mercy.

There was still time before the break for Natascha Keller, the German flag-bearer to have a shot well-saved by Tran-Swensen.

Despite all the effort and hard work of the US team, Germany had been relatively comfortable. The second half was a different story. Katherine Reinprecht twice went close with sliding deflections and Keli Puzo drew a save out of Frank as the USA, roared on by the neutrals and the USA fans alike built a good period of sustained pressure.

The USA forced a series of penalty corners, and Michelle Kasold sliding in, went close to applying the finishing touch to bring her side back into the match.

Michelle Vittese had a wonderful chance to notch her side’s first goal. She found the ball on her stick in the D and delayed, putting Frank on the floor, with the goal at her mercy she failed to lift the ball over the goalkeeper instead, drilling her shot into the pads.

In the 56th minute, Captain Lauren Crandall did find the net, her penalty corner flick took a deflection of the defender and wrong footed the goalkeeper to make the scores 2-1.

With the crowd getting behind the underdogs even more, the US had the chance to equalise. Caroline Nichols’ shot evaded the goalkeeper, and with the goal at her mercy Reinprecht miscued, the ball striking her foot before she could prod home.

Germany, having looked so comfortable, were clearly ruffled and had to resort to killing the game off by keeping the ball in the corner in the US half. They managed to run the clock down, but as the crowd applauded the two sides for an exciting match, the Germans knew they had been in a game.

With a little more finesse in front of goal, the USA could easily have got something out of the game. It would have been no more than they deserved. However, this was a harsh lesson for them, showing that at this level, you have to take your chances.

Both sides are in action again on Tuesday as the USA take on Argentina and Germany face Australia.

About thetopofthed

Columnist for The Hockey Paper and the man behind The Top of the D. Writer, podcaster, goalkeeper and BBC Sport man. Used to work for Great Britain Hockey and have covered the sport at every major tournament.
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