LONDON – South Jersey made its presence felt right away in Northwest London tonight.
Delran’s Carli Lloyd scored the only goal of the first half of the gold medal game between the U.S. and Japan. Point Pleasant’s Christie Rampone helped make it stand up for an intense 45 minutes.
Lloyd, who scored the game-winning goal when the U.S. won gold in Beijing four years ago, cut in front of teammate Abby Wambach right in front of Japan’s goaltender. She leaned forward like a sprinter at the finish line, heading in a crossing pass from Alex Morgan in the eighth minute.
Lloyd’s goal was part of an early barrage by the U.S. team. Japan soon answered with waves of pressure. On the defending World Cup champions’ first real attack, Rampone found herself on the baseline, behind goalkeeper Hope Solo. A shot got by Solo and Rampone cleared it. Solo made a couple of athletic saves, tipping at least one ball off the post. Japan’s Yuki Ogimi had two excellent chances. Solo tipped away one header and another shot, fired from about 20 yards out, ticked off the outside of the right goalpost.
The U.S. plays a more aggressive, attacking style that can leave it vulnerable on defense. Early on, the Americans did a good job of applying offensive pressure but getting back on defense. As the half wore on, though, the Americans turned the ball over a few times at midfield, allowing Japan’s Sinobu Ohno and Nahomi Kawasumi to break out and create scoring chances.
The U.S. team is trying for payback after losing last year’s World Cup final to Japan on penalty kicks.