Britain rallies, takes women's field hockey pool from US
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Britain snatched Pool B out of the United States' hands, scoring two goals in the final eight minutes Saturday to defeat the Americans 2-1 in women's field hockey.
Sophie Bray scored midway through the fourth period, then Alex Danson barely got the stick on a long shot and redirected it into the goal three minutes later for the clincher.
The United States would have won the pool with a draw because of goal difference, making Britain's strong finish more dramatic.
''We have to show resilience,'' British player Kate Richardson-Walsh said. ''The American side are full of positive energy, full of resilience themselves. So we have to learn from that and feed off that.''
Topping the group means Britain avoids possibly running into the No. 1-ranked Netherlands, the Group A winner, until the final. The Netherlands, the two-time defending Olympic champion, has allowed just one goal in five matches at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
In quarterfinal action on Monday, Britain will play Spain, the United States will face Germany, the Netherlands plays Argentina and Australia will square off with rival New Zealand.
The Americans, who haven't medaled since 1984, posted the best pool play performance in team history.
''We've had a good set of pool games,'' United States coach Craig Parnham said. ''We're disappointed with the result tonight, but overall and for the week, we've been very good. Huge amount of positives to come out of the week. Today's not the worst thing that can happen. We can learn some lessons from there, make sure we regroup and reset before the quarterfinal.''
Britain outshot the United States 6-1 in the first half, but the match was scoreless at the break. Britain failed to score on four penalty corners, and U.S. goalkeeper Jackie Briggs had three saves in the first half.
''I think we were a bit outplayed,'' U.S. midfielder Michelle Vittese said. ''We don't ever like to do that. When we know that, I think it hits us a bit harder. Our job was just to get out there and do what we know we can do.''
The Americans had been a second-half team throughout pool play, and they looked ready to produce another strong effort. Vittese scored midway through the third quarter, and the United States took a 1-0 lead into the fourth period.
Britain felt it was a matter of time before the dam burst. Briggs, who had been nearly impenetrable at the games, allowed two goals on two in the final period.
''We had a lot of possession, and just needed to turn it into a goal,'' Richardson-Walsh said. ''It's just believing, knowing that it would come.''
Two five-minute yellow cards hampered the United States in the second half. Julia Reinprecht got one late in the third period, and Vittese got one with 10 minutes remaining in the match.
Britain scored its first goal with Vittese out.
''Our flow was interrupted a little bit by some of the cards,'' Parnham said. ''Playing with 10 is difficult, and we played a lot of that second half with 10. That makes a big difference.''
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter (at)CliffBruntAP