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Japan and USA fight for their first victory – 07.12.2011

The match began with a high tempo from both teams. It was clear from the start that both teams were desperate for their first win this World Championships. USA were successful with a 7-3 win.

Right from the first whistle both teams were able to hold good possession of the ball in their offensive halves, creating some goal chances. Team USA used their accurate passing to get around the Japanese, whereas the Japanese relied heavily on their speed to get the ball up forward.

At 7:37 Team USA´s quick play and direct passing was too good for Japan and Michelle Linhart scored the first goal of the match. 1-0 for USA. Almost 10 minutes past before a counter attack from USA allowed Marie Häggström to score her team´s second goal with a pass from  Laura Nurmia.

At 19:39 a penalty was received by Tiffany Winkler of USA for locking. 20 seconds was not enough for the Japanese to convert the powerplay and so the score at the end of the first period remained 2-0 for USA.

It was an exciting start to the second period as at just 20:13 Japan´s Natsumi Matsukura received a 2 minute penalty and took the game to four against four. The time ran out for both teams and it was back to full-strength fighting.  At 29:39 Team USA managed to open the game and get out of defence with some passing and Marianne Muuri finished off the play with USA´s 4th goal to increase the lead to 4-0.

Yet another penalty was received by Team USA, this time by Laura Nurmia, and the Japanese were determined to make use of it. Midori Sawaguchi of Japan had a brilliant backhand volley into the net to put Japan on the scoreboard, 4-1.

The 3rd period was controlled more by Team USA and at 42:54 Muuri scored her second goal of the match to take the score to 5-1 for USA. Despite the US dominance on the scoreboard, the Japanese continued to fight with all their speed and fitness.  Both teams received 2 minute penalties during the 3rd period, but neither team was able to capitalise on the advantage. At 51:42 Marie Häggström missed a penalty shot for USA but 3 minutes later her teammate Alexandra Morgan scored a goal to increase the lead for USA to 6-1.

Both teams continued to fight for the rest of the match, running hard and scoring more goals. The Japanese demonstrated a true fight as they never gave up. Sawaguchi managed to put in the last goal of the match just 20 seconds before the end of the match to take the final score to 7-3 for Japan.

USA to play for 9th-12th place

USA will play for 9th-12th place tomorrow at 13:30 against Slovakia. Japan will play tomorrow against Hungary for the 13th-16th place.

Photo: Robert Pfiffner

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Best players of the match were Marianne Muuri and Midori Sawaguchi.