Steph Labbé is a gold medalist.
The former UConn goalkeeper made two saves in penalty kicks to help Canada defeat Sweden, 1-1 (3-2 PKs). Labbé is the second former Husky to win gold in Tokyo, joining Stef Dolson (USA 3x3).
Sweden scored first in the 34th minute only for Canada to find the equalizer in the 67th minute on a penalty. With the two sides knotted at 1-1, they went to extra time and after neither team found a goal.
During penalty kicks, Labbé went all-in on the mental games. She stood out on the six-yard box as every kick-taker approached and only went to her line after sufficiently delaying the shot. Once in goal, Labbé bounced around before getting set as the ball was struck.
The tactic paid immediate dividends as Sweden clanged the first shot off the post. Though Canada scored its first attempt, the next three players missed their shots while the Swedes made two straight. Facing elimination, Labbé made a crucial save to her right to keep Canada alive.
The PKs went to sudden death and on Sweden’s sixth attempt, Labbé again came up with a save — this time to her left — allowing Julia Grosso to step up and give Canada the win.
Gold medalist Steph Labbé, soaking in the moment pic.twitter.com/GAbLvpbUPj— Daniel Connolly (@DanielVConnolly) August 6, 2021
This is Canada’s first Olympic gold medal.
Throughout the entire tournament, Labbé came up huge for Canada. In the opener against Japan, she saved a first-half penalty kick while injured before going off moments later. She returned after one game and in the quarterfinals, stopped Brazil’s final two attempts in PKs to help Canada through. Against the USWNT in the semis, Labbé pitched a clean sheet.
Over the five games she played in Tokyo, Labbé allowed just two goals.
USA advances to gold medal match
Team USA is one win away from capturing its seventh consecutive gold medal following a 79-59 victory over Serbia in the semifinals.
“This is exactly where we want to be,” Breanna Stewart said postgame. “So now everything is on the line and we’re going to do what we can to make sure that we come home with a gold.”
Stewart notched a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds while Sue Bird had eight points, four assists and three steals. Tina Charles finished with six points and Napheesa Collier had five points. Diana Taurasi did not score but she did dish out four assists, including this no-look pass to Stewart.
Though it wasn’t a pretty win, the US controlled the game for all 40 minutes. They jumped out to a 13-point lead at the end of the first quarter and never let Serbia get closer than nine the rest of the way.
Williams, France fall in semis
Gabby Williams will compete for bronze after France fell to Japan in the semifinals, 87-71. Williams finished with eight rebounds, seven assists, three steals and no turnovers but just four points.
France started strong and held an eight point lead after one quarter but quickly fell apart. Japan outscored them by 15 and only continued to build the lead in the third quarter. France never recovered and didn’t make much of a comeback effort.
On Saturday, Williams and France will take on Serbia in the bronze medal game at 3 a.m. EST on CNBC.
Later that day, Team USA will go for gold against Japan at 10:30 p.m. EST on NBC.
Although the Americans previously beat Japan 86-69 in the group stage, the US had trouble defensively in that game. Japan plays a unique style where all five players on the floor can shoot threes, which required Team USA’s bigs to step out and defend the 3-point line. Japan scored 30 points in the first quarter before the US locked down and held them to 39 the rest of the game.