Canada women’s soccer is heading to the Olympic semifinals on the back of a heroic effort from former UConn goaltender Steph Labbé in penalties.
After 120 minutes of scoreless, deadlocked soccer, Canada and Brazil went into penalty kicks to decide who would advance. The Canadians missed their first shot and went down 3-2 before Labbé stopped Brazil’s next two shots. Her second save gave Canada the win.
STEPHANIE LABBE SAVES @CanadaSoccerEN advance to the #Tokyo2020 semifinals! pic.twitter.com/E4WmpY1OOt— CBS Sports Soccer (@CBSSportsSoccer) July 30, 2021
“I honestly just don’t have many words right now. The excitement level is as high as it can be,” Labbé told reporters postgame. “I think just in the moment it was about trusting myself, trusting my instincts and giving myself a chance to make the save. I didn’t want to go too early and I just wanted to be in a position where I could use my power and make that save.”
Labbé, who missed one game earlier in the tournament with a rib injury, went down in extra time after falling hard on her back, though she remained in the match. She made sure the game went to penalties with a big save in the 118th minute as well.
Canada is now officially in medal contention with the victory but will need to beat the United States — who advanced thanks to two saves in penalties from Connecticut’s own Alyssa Naeher — to reach the gold medal game. Kickoff is set for 4 a.m. EST on Monday.
Team USA cruises to victory
USA Women’s Basketball is off to a 2-0 start after a comfortable 86-69 win over Japan.
Breanna Stewart had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds to go with six assists. Diana Taurasi scored 11 points shooting 3-of-5 from three while Sue Bird added six assists and three points. Tina Charles did not score but had four rebounds while Napheesa Collier did not play.
THAT HUSTLE. THAT BLOCK. ( @UConnWBB @seattlestorm )@breannastewart says NOPE. #TokyoOlympics x @TeamUSA— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 30, 2021
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The US defense started out shaky, allowing 30 points in the first quarter before buckling down and holding Japan to just 39 points the rest of the game. Much of that early scoring from the hosts came due to the disparity in size between the two teams.
While the US starting lineup was an average of five inches taller than Japan’s, that meant the American bigs needed to defend out at the 3-point line. Japan took advantage with six triples in the opening quarter, resulting in a two-point lead for the Olympic hosts after 10 minutes.
Eventually, the US sorted out its 3-point defense issues and pulled ahead. They led by nine at the half on their way to a 17-point victory.
Gabby Williams helps France bounce back
After being upset by Japan in their opener, France rebounded by winning 87-62 over Nigeria on Friday. Gabby Williams did it all, finishing with 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Next up, Les Blues will take on Team USA in an all-UConn matchup on Monday.
Pieper, Germany stay undefeated
So far, nobody has figured out how to slow down Cecile Pieper and Germany. On Thursday, they improved to 4-0 with a 4-1 win over South Africa. Pieper started at forward and recorded one shot on goal during the run of play.
For as dominant as Germany has been, they’ll face a major challenge in their last game of the group stage against the Netherlands, the No. 1 team in the world.
Ireland drops crucial match
After a long postponement due to rain, Róisín Upton and Ireland fell to India, 1-0. Upton started but did not record any stats.
A win would’ve secured their place in the knockout stage but now, their path is more complicated. Currently, Ireland and India both have three points, though Ireland is in fourth on goal differential (-5 to India’s -8). India will play last-place South Africa on Saturday, meaning Ireland will likely need to beat Great Britain to finish in the top four and advance.
Niels Giffey and Germany will take on Australia at 4:20 a.m. EST on Saturday while both Upton and Pieper will wrap up the group stage with their respective countries. Germany will face Netherlands at 5:30 a.m. EST while Ireland will meet Great Britain at 7:45 a.m. EST.