KASHIMA, Japan (AP) — Although the color of their medal wasn’t what they wanted, the mettle of the team came through in the end.
The United States salvaged a rocky tournament by winning bronze in women’s soccer at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd scored two goals each in a 4-3 win over Australia after opening the Tokyo Games with an uncharacteristic 3-0 loss to Sweden.
“It’s very satisfying. I think we all realized we didn’t play the best this entire tournament,” U.S. captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “So to have the response that we did after a very disappointing semifinal, to show the USA mentality and the resiliency, to put the performance in that we wanted to be playing the entire time, and to finally find it in a game like that — very satisfying.”
The loss spoiled the Australians’ first-ever trip to the medal round at the Olympics. No Australian soccer team, men or women, has ever won a medal.
The Matildas were the underdogs against the United States, the top-ranked team in the world and the defending World Cup champions who came to Japan vying for gold. But the Americans struggled at times, including in a 1-0 loss to Canada in the semifinals. The Canadians hadn’t defeated their North American counterparts since 2001.
The U.S. team that came out against Australia looked completely different.
“That was the U.S. mentality,” Lloyd said. “We played well, we strung some really good sequences together, scored some great goals. And I’m extremely proud of the way we persevered, they way we turned things around. We’re going home with a medal, and there’s no greater feeling than that.”
Rapinoe scored directly from a corner kick in the eighth minute to give the Americans an early lead. It was the second time Rapinoe has scored an Olimpico, as goals from corners are known: She also had one in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics against Canada.
Sam Kerr pulled the Australians even with a goal in the 17th minute that got past U.S. goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.
Franch got her first start in a major tournament in place of Alyssa Naeher, who injured her right knee in the U.S. team’s semifinal loss to Canada.