The final Monday of London 2012 sees the preliminary round of the women's field hockey tournament conclude, with three semifinal places still up for grabs. After the jump, I'll take a look at how the two groups stack up with just six round-robin games left, and eight unlucky teams destined to play placement games.
Note: The FIH awards 3 points for a win and 1 for a draw.
Current Standings: 1. Netherlands, 2. Great Britain, 3. China, 4. South Korea (eliminated), 5. Belgium (eliminated), 6. Japan (eliminated)
Things are straightforward in Group A. The No. 1 team in the world, the defending gold medalists from the Netherlands (12 points) clinched a semifinal berth on Saturday, thanks to a win over South Korea (3 points). The Dutch can finish with a perfect round-robin record if they defeat Great Britain (9 points) (2 p.m. ET). Conversely, the hosts must win to advance to the medal round, thanks to a loss Saturday to China (7 points). If Britain fails to claim all three points, the Chinese will qualify with a victory over already eliminated Japan (1 point) (8:45 a.m. ET). The remaining game of the day, Belgium (2 points) against the Koreans (11 a.m. ET) will help determine the lineup of the placement games.
Projected Standings: 1. Netherlands (15 pts.), 2. China (10 pts.), 3. Great Britain (9 pts.), 4. South Korea (4 pts.), 5. Belgium (3 pts.), 6. Japan (1 pt.)
Current Standings: 1. Argentina, 2. New Zealand, 3. Australia, 4. Germany, 5. USA (eliminated), 6. South Africa (eliminated)
Group B is rather messy, but at least the four teams involved play each other. Australia (9 points), long the sport's dominant team, is looking to reassert itself in London. On Monday, the Hockeyroos close the preliminary round with a game against World Cup and Champions Trophy holders Argentina (9 points) (4:15 p.m. ET) with the winner booking a semifinal place. Note that the Argentines lead the Australians and New Zealand (also 9 points) on goal difference (+8, compared to +4 for NZ and +3 for Australia). That statistic may be key because the if the three teams tie their final group matches, a head-to-head comparison will be difficult. That's thanks to a 1-0 win for New Zealand over their Trans-Tasman rivals on the opening day and a 2-1 triumph for the Argentines over the Black Sticks on August 2nd. The other game of import in the group sees New Zealand take on Germany (6 points) (3:30 a.m. ET), a squad that also has hope, provided they claim all three points and Argentina wins big. Finally (though not in terms of the schedule), the U.S. (3 points), who had slim hopes for a medal coming in, will look to close the round-robin with a win over hapless South Africa (0 points) (5:45 a.m. ET).
Projected Standings: 1. Australia (12 pts.), 2. New Zealand (10 pts.), 3. Argentina (9 pts.), 4. Germany (7 pts.), 5. USA (6 pts.), 6. South Africa (0 pts.)
These results in a projected women's field hockey bracket that looks like this...
(A1) Netherlands vs. (B2) New Zealand
(B1) Australia vs. (A2) China
A Netherlands-Australia final, which has never happened in Olympic play is a strong possibility for this bracket. Other interesting possibilities are a rematch of the Beijing final between the Dutch and China and a second London meeting between Oceania's best.
UPDATE: In Pool A, the hosts lost to the Dutch, 2-1, but qualified for the semifinals anyway, as China lost to Japan by the minimum score. Pool B's two spots went to Argentina and New Zealand, who played a pair of goalless draws against Australia and Germany, respectively. That means our final bracket and schedule looks like this.
9th and 10th place: (A5) Japan vs. (B5) South Africa, 3:30 a.m. ET
7th and 8th place: (A4) South Korea vs. (A4) Germany, 6:30 a.m. ET
Semifinal No. 1: (A1) Netherlands vs. (B2) New Zealand, 10:30 a.m. ET
Semifinal No. 2: (B1)
Australia Argentina vs. (A2) China Great Britain, 3 p.m. ET
11th and 12th place: (A6) Belgium vs. (B6) USA, 3:30 a.m. ET
5th and 6th place: (A3) China vs. (B3) Australia, 6:30 a.m. ET
Bronze Medal Game, 10:30 a.m. ET
Gold Medal Game, 3 p.m. ET
Might we see a Netherlands-Great Britain rematch in the final? The Dutch will certainly be favored, but the hosts will have a hard time getting past Las Leonas, a team that is looking to add its first ever Olympic gold to a loaded trophy case.
Who are your picks for the medals?
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