The bronze medal match produced great thrills in the second half with Ireland and Japan trading 4 goals in the fourth quarter, after a goalless first half. Japan pushed harder for a winner in the final quarter and found it through captain Yuri Nagai who put in the finishing touches to a brilliantly worked team move, with less than 4 minutes left on the clock. Irish attempts at finding an equalizer were blocked well by the Japanese defense, led by a fantastic all-round display by Yu Asai.
Bronze Medal Match: Japan vs Ireland 3-2
Japan and Ireland both came very close to making the finals of the Nations Cup in the semi-finals last evening, but had to quickly set the disappointment behind them as they faced each other in the bronze medal match. And both teams bounced back remarkably early in the game. While there were no goals in the first half, the teams still put on a brave display of attacking hockey. Japan especially got close to scoring multiple times, but Elizabeth Murphy was once again huge in the Irish goal and kept the score level at half time.
Ireland opened the scoring in the 3rd quarter as a powerful low hit into the Japanese circle was deflected in by Kathryn Mullan. Japan had an instant response as just a couple of minutes later they won a penalty corner and while Murphy stopped the first shot, the rebound fell to Mami Karino, who tapped the ball into an empty goal. Ireland and Japan traded penalty corner goals once again in the 3rd quarter, setting up an exciting final quarter finish.
Japan went all out in search of a winning goal and found it with 4 minutes left on the clock as a fantastic ball into the circle was first deflected by Mai Toriyama, and then by captain Yuri Nagai, to give Japan the lead that they would hold on to till the final whistle to seal the win and the bronze medal. Yu Asai, who excelled all over the field for Japan, was awarded the player of the match and said: “A good team performance today. We can always rely on the defense to carry us forward and that worked out for us today.”