Tuesday was extremely busy with Group A and Group B wrapping up. Half the games were being played as a matter of pride while the other half featured teams jockeying for positioning heading into the quarterfinals. It was a day of firsts in this Women’s World Cup, as explored in the “Free Kicks” section below. Here are Tuesday’s Stars (top performers) and Subs (disappointments) of the day:
- New Zealand – The entire team, not only because Rebecca Smith scored in the 90th minute and Hannah Wilkinson scored in the 94th to give the Kiwis a 2-2 draw with Mexico, but also because of the joy this team displayed. The Kiwis were eliminated even coming into the day but played with serious passion, which was evident as the team celebrated Wilkinson’s equalizer like it had just won the World Cup.
- Perpetua Nkwocha – Scored the lone goal in Nigeria’s 1-0 win over Canada. Nigeria, to the shock of nearly everyone, goes home as the third best team in Group A.
- Ellen White – The English forward scored an absolute class goal – one that I would rate as a top three goal of the tournament thus far – and almost had another in a side-winding, bicycle kick type of effort. She was a big part of England’s 2-0 victory.
- Inka Grings – The German scored two goals while getting the nod in the starting line-up. She didn’t disappoint.
- Canada – The entire team. Zero points? Alright, the loss to Germany is expected. The loss to France is slightly surprising but the way it happened – to the tune of 4-0 – was jaw-dropping. And then Canada loses to Nigeria on Tuesday? Suddenly, No. 6 in the world looks like an inflated ranking for Canada.
- Birgit Prinz – For being selfish. Yes, I actually think Prinz may betting hammered too hard. Imagine how she must feel to be a German hero for a decade and in a few days be tossed to the media wolves and be seen by fans and media as a distraction. Still, she has been selfishly unhappy with her new role on the bench and far from what Germany needs from a leader.
- Berangere Sapowicz – The French goalkeeper took a red card in the 65th minute and will now miss the quarterfinal. That’s unfortunate for France, although many have questioned if Sapowicz should have even started over Celine Deville.
FREE KICKS – A day of firsts.
Canada failed to earn a point in the group stage for the first time ever. Ouch.
Sapowicz red card was the first of the tournament. It was also the result of the first penalty kick of the tournament. Double ouch.
New Zealand’s 2-2 draw gave the Kiwis their first-ever point at a Women’s World Cup. They can go home on a high note…
And add to the subs section defending set pieces in the air. What is going on? There have been far too many set piece headers.