Aug. 18, 2004
With the help of goals from Kelly Rulon and Robin Beauregard, the U.S. women built up a solid lead in its second contest of the 2004 Olympic Games, but they were unable to stop a late surge by Canada on Wednesday at the Olympic Aquatic Centre Indoor Pool. Canada's five-goal run pushed past the United States for a 6-5 decision in Group B action. The first half ran almost entirely scoreless until U.S. attacker Kelly Rulon (San Diego, CA/UCLA/San Diego Shores) skipped in a score for Team USA. The United States worked out to a 5-1 lead in the fourth quarter and then was unable to get its offense back in gear. Canada, meanwhile, got a spark from a four-meter penalty shot and then three more goals to tie it. With 50 seconds to go, Johanne Begin drilled her third goal of the game to leave the score at 6-5 and snag Canada the win. "I don't think we've ever lost a four-goal lead in the fourth quarter," U.S. coach Guy Baker said. "We had two 6-on-5 opportunities that we missed in the fourth quarter, then they got some 6-on-5 goals and a penalty shot. It always comes down to you've got to make good on some 6-on-5s and you have to make some stops 5-on-6 and we didn't do that. It's a 5-1 lead in the fourth quarter. We needed to take care of business. You've gotta give them credit for the comeback." Team USA got several shots off during the first, but all missed their mark. Canada's best chance of the quarter came off the counterattack, but U.S. goalie Jackie Frank (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/Golden West) made a big save on the shot, helping hold the period scoreless. Team USA threw out some clutch field blocks against Canadian 6-on-5 opportunities in the second quarter, first from Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Stanford/Commerce) and later from Natalie Golda (Fullerton, CA/UCLA/New York AC). Still, the U.S. women had trouble on their scoring end. It wasn't until Rulon scored from the top as the teams were drawing even from a 6-on-5 that Team USA finally got to the back of the net. By that time, there was just a minute left in the half. Canada got a shot off near the end, and that was solidly pulled down by Frank. After losing the ball to her Canadian defender, U.S. center Amber Stachowski (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/UCLA) promptly stole the ball right back. With the bulk of the players already countering back, Stachowksi caught Canada off-guard and got the ball to Margie Dingeldein (Merced, CA/Stanford) two meters out. Dingeldein went one-on-one with Canadian goalie Rachel Riddell and skidded in the score to make it 2-0 USA at 6:29 in the third. Team USA put up a defensive blockade once again versus the Canadian power play, then went back the other way and got a 6-on-5 possession of its own. Enter Ericka Lorenz (San Diego, CA/UC Berkeley). Working it from the top, Lorenz climbed high and rocketed in the score bar-in to put the United States up 3-0 at 3:44. Robin Beauregard (Huntington Beach, CA/UCLA/New York AC) was the next to lace one in on the power play. She catapulted the ball past Riddell, and Team USA was up 4-0. Frank slammed away another Canadian chance later in the period, but she couldn't stop Begin on Canada's next power play. Begin nailed her shot from the left side, making it 4-1 USA entering the final quarter. U.S. captain Heather Moody (Green River, WY/San Diego State/New York AC) finally broke through all the whitewater at two meters and reared back for a score from set that made it 5-1. That seemed to wake up the Canadians, as they capitalized on a number of opportunities in the final six minutes. "It's pretty uncommon for a team to come back after being down by that many goals," Frank said. "I think we were trying to work the clock and maybe not attacking as much and they took advantage of that." Canada then earned a four-meter penalty shot against Beauregard, and Ann Dow converted to bring the score to 5-2 with 5:36 left to play. Begin made it two straight for Canada on her second 6-on-5 score of the game, which came after U.S. center Ellen Estes (Novato, CA/Stanford) was dealt her third ejection of the game. Then, Cora Campbell finished off a Canadian counterattack, pushing it to a one-goal game with three minutes remaining. Forty-five seconds later, Dow skipped in her second to pull into a tie and make it four straight Canadian goals. Now locked 5-5, the pressure was on the USA to get in gear. Stachowksi drew an exclusion to put Team USA up on a power play, and Baker called a timeout with 1:30 on the clock. The shot went high, and Canada earned a power play directly after. As the teams were pulling even, Begin nailed her third from that same left-hand spot. It stood as the game-winner, as Canada managed to control the final 50 seconds. "The difference was in the fourth quarter," Moody said. "We just made some little mistakes and they capitalized on them. They got a couple of counterattack opportunities which shouldn't happen, especially in the fourth quarter, especially against us."