Thursday, Jul 28, 2016
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Olympics

U.S. pulls off upset over Argentina

The-United-States-Michelle-Vittese-leap

The United States' Michelle Vittese leaps as she battles for control of the ball against Argentina's Josefina Sruoga during a preliminary match. The U.S. won 1-0 in what many see as a significant victory.

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LONDON — The rankings say the United States beating Argentina qualifies as a significant field hockey upset. The Americans disagree.

Shannon Taylor scored late in the first half and the U.S. survived some frantic final moments to topple Argentina 1-0 in women's field hockey Tuesday, a win that essentially keeps alive the Americans' medal chances.

"I don't think we think about things in terms of upsets any more," said U.S. goalie Amy Swensen, who kicked aside one point-blank chance by the world's second-ranked team late in the second half and got plenty of help from teammates down the stretch as well. "It's wins and losses and we're just trying to win as many as we can right now."

Both teams are 1-1 in Group B play.

"We had to get a result today to get our tournament back on track," said U.S. coach Lee Bodimeade, whose team came to London ranked No. 10 in the world. "We were probably fortunate in a lot of ways that we had to play against Argentina, the team that we respect the most in this tournament and the team that drives us to our best performances."

By now, that's pretty clear.

The Americans controlled long stretches of play in the first half, then kept Argentina star Luciana Aymar — widely considered the world's best player — largely silent throughout.

"We tried everything," Aymar said. "They ball just didn't go in."

As she carried the ball over midfield midway through the first half, five Americans — yes, five — surrounded her, each no more than a step or two away.

"We just had to stick to the game plan," Taylor said. "Watch out for Aymar, and play our game."

The U.S. had a great chance to open the scoring after being awarded a penalty corner with nine minutes left in the first half, only to be denied.

The denial was temporary.

Only two minutes later, Taylor got behind the Argentine defense and tipped a ball played by Michelle Vittese into the upper part of the cage, giving goalkeeper Florencia Mutio no chance and giving the Americans a 1-0 lead.

That was all it took.

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