US women's field hockey team faces No. 3 Australia next
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) The United States could make another bold statement in women's field hockey at the Olympics on Monday.
A win over No. 3 Australia would give the Americans victories over two of the world's top three teams in its first two Olympic matches. The Americans defeated No. 2 Argentina 2-1 in their opener on Saturday.
Another win would not only add confidence, it would move the squad closer to qualifying for the quarterfinals. The top four teams in each six-team pool advance.
''Another great opponent,'' U.S. goalkeeper Jackie Briggs said. ''We've played them a couple times in the last month. They're a great team, but we know if we play our game and stick to our gameplan, we can beat anybody.''
The Americans also could deal a blow to Australia. The Hockeyroos dropped their opener to Britain 2-1 on Saturday.
''Obviously disappointed to start with a loss,'' Australia defender Georgina Morgan said. ''But I think the standard we set was pretty good, and we obviously want to improve each game, so I think that's probably a good place to start.''
The Hockeyroos feel they weren't far from their usual level of play. Australia outshot Britain 13-7.
''We play a very fast, attacking, counter-type of hockey, and I think you'll see that that comes out throughout the tournament,'' Morgan said. ''I think you saw a lot of it (against Britain). When we've really got the run of play, I think it's quite hard to defend.''
The United States defeated Australia in the Champions Tourney in June to capture third place and set the tone for the Olympics.
The Americans bounced back from a sluggish start to defeat Argentina. The United States limited Carla Rebecchi, one of the world's best scorers, to two shots and no goals. United States coach Craig Parnham felt the win over the Argentines was no fluke - he simply felt the Americans outplayed a capable team.
''It's crazy because I think Argentina is a very good team,'' he said. ''They played very well tonight. I thought our platform was set by our defense, and, that gave us some opportunity to score.''
Even after Saturday's victory, the Americans remained focused on growth and letting the results take care of themselves.
''We don't shy away from our mistakes and things we can learn,'' Briggs said. ''We don't shy away from it. We take it head on. We try to improve and learn and grow from how we played before.''
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter (at)CliffBruntAP