Sunday, July 17, 2011

Japan's Miracle on Grass the ultimate stunner

I kept watching the women's World Cup final, wondering how the heck U.S. wasn't up by at least three goals over Japan. For basically the entirely of the 122 minutes of regulation and overtime, the U.S. seemed so dominant, it was as if they had a two-man advantage. They were bigger, faster, more skilled with the ball, and continally threatened the Japan goal with superb opportunities.
The difference maker was Japan goaltender Ayumi Kaihori, who badly outplayed the celebrated Hope Solo, given the pressure placed on Kaihori throughout the game. And that first penalty kick save by Kaihori, where she slightly overran the kick, but deflected the ball with her leg in mid-dive was as athletic a move as you'll see anywhere.
Nonetheless, soccer fans will be watching that World Cup final for 100 years and still be stupified that the game ever got to penalty kicks.
It was one of those sport miracles of which America is usually so proud. This time, Japan pulled off the Miracle on Grass and how they got there matters not. They're the World Cup champions and one of the great upset winners in sports history.


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