Dutch women top Argentina for field hockey gold
LONDON (AP) -- The Netherlands used its sturdy defense to get to the women's field hockey final, and coach Max Caldas told some of his best players he needed more from them to win a second straight Olympic title.
Their answer was a 2-0 win over world champion Argentina, which had beaten the Dutch in two major finals in the last two years.
"We saved our best for last," Caldas said. "We erased them from the field today."
At the final whistle, the Netherlands celebrated with a mass hug in their circle. Eight of the players earned their second straight gold medal.
"I can hardly believe it," midfielder Eva de Goede said. "I had a good feeling from the beginning and we played such a good first half, and the second half they (Argentina) were absolutely nowhere."
Winners of all seven of their games, the Dutch women gave the men's team extra incentive to record the first-ever Olympic double when it plays Germany in that final on Saturday.
One of the players Caldas targeted for an improved effort was captain Maartje Paumen, who scored a record 11 goals in Beijing but none until the semifinals, when she smacked in two penalty corners, her specialty. Paumen's first two chances in the final were saved, but she converted the third to lift her Olympic tally to a record 14.
"When the pressure's on, she steps up," Caldas said. "She's all class."
Paumen's score made it 2-0 with 16 minutes left, and Argentina never recovered.
Earlier Friday, Britain's women got the bronze by beating New Zealand 3-1 to secure their country's first Olympic field hockey medal in 20 years. Prince William's wife, the former Kate Middleton, was on hand to applaud the goals, all of them from second-half penalty corners.
In the final, Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel scored the first Dutch goal from a rebound of de Goede's corner in the 40th minute. The shot went in just to the left of the post.
Van den Heuvel said the Dutch had outplayed Argentina for the entire game, "and if you take too long scoring, it only gets more and more difficult, so it just had to happen."
After Argentine goalkeeper Florencia Mutio saved a corner by Paumen, the captain then scored on her next chance. It was her third in London.
No. 2-ranked Argentina was seeking its first gold medal, but its captain, Luciana Aymar, couldn't celebrate her 35th birthday with a victory in her last match before retiring.
"She's a great human being more than a great player," teammate Macarena Rodriguez Perez. "Argentina is going to have to find more than one player to replace her."
Argentina has been unable to get by the Netherlands in the Olympics. The country lost to the Dutch in the 2004 and 2008 semifinals, finishing with bronze medals to go with their silver in 2000 in Sydney.
The Netherlands twice missed scoring chances in the first three minutes in scrambles in front of the goal.
Argentina's corner specialist Noel Barrionuevo was wide left with her first shot in the ninth, and Dutch goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek turned aside a shot by Aymar.
The match was paused after Mariela Scarone was hit under the left eye by Ellen Hoog's stick. Scarone walked of the field with a towel staunching the bleeding, but returned in the second half.
Hoog also hit New Zealand's Katie Glynn in the head in the semifinals.
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