Posted on August 10, 2012
By Michael Lewis
LONDON — When you are considered by just about everyone to be the best women’s goalkeeper on the planet, you better live up to your billing when it counts the most.
When push came to shove against a relentless Japan team, Hope Solo did.
With the United States clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the Olympic women’s gold medal match, produced a save that, well, saved the Americans’ lead at Wembley Stadium on Thursday night.
“Hope was big time,” said midfielder Carli Lloyd, who scored both U.S. goals in what turned into a 2-1 win. “She’s the best goalkeeper ever on the planet. Huge saves. That’s what she does. She comes up big in big moments.”
Of course, Solo is mortal, because she did allow six goals in as many games in the tournament.
Still, she had not been tested very much in pressure situations — until Thursday.
“I have to be patient as a goalkeeper and I have to let the game come to me,” Solo said. “I haven’t been tested too much in this tournament, there were some awkward goals against Canada in the semifinal. There was going to be one game in the tournament where I had to show up and play and I hadn’t had it in five games straight.
“You can’t win a major tournament without good goalkeeping and today you saw good goalkeeping from not just myself but from the Japanese goalkeeper.”
Solo’s most important moment came in the 83rd minute with Japan pressing for an equalizer after Japan’s Yuki Ogimi scored off a rebound in the 63rd minute.
U.S. captain and central defender Christie Rampone, who cleared one shot off the line in the first half, was stripped of the ball by Mana Iwabuchi. Iwahuchi raced in alone on Solo, who stretched to produce a two-handed save.
“If she doesn’t make that save who knows what happens?” Wambach said. “We could still be out there right now.”
Added Solo: “I think I tend to play well under pressure.”
During a women’s soccer symposium at the CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Vancouver in January, officials showed a highlight video of Solo’s saves from the Women
They probably won’t be able to do a similar highlight video from this year’s Summer Olympics because Solo was not tested as much as he was in Germany.
But when it counted the most, Solo made the most of it, leaving Japan with the least of it.
Photo: Hope Solo produced her most important save in the 83rd minute. Andy Mead/YCJ
Categories: North America, Olympic Qualifying, U.S.A., Women
Tags: 2012 London Olympics, Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Christie Rampone, Hope Solo, Wembley Stadium, Yuki Ogimi