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4th Place Finish for U.S. Women Jr. Olympians

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4th Place Finish for U.S. Women Jr. Olympians

It wasn't the most sophisticated of matches, and China was noticeably less enthusiastic, but the Youth Olympic Games hosts did just enough to beat the U.S. Women 12-0 for the Bronze medal.

The lasting impression is one of exhaustion. The teams were playing in their seventh match of the tournament, and by game's end, the U.S. lost two more players - Appau Mailau and Danielle Walko-Siua (in addition to Dana Olsen) - to injury. The Chinese were also not as vigorous as they had been in earlier rounds, perhaps still dampened by a semifinal match they could have won. The result was a lot of knock-ons and ballhandling errors. At times, possession changed hands three or four times in rapid succession while the referee contemplated whether advantage had been won, lost or won again.

But the beginning of the game started well for the Americans. Kat Ramage, as she's wont to do, came barreling off the kickoff and laid a thick thud on the receiver. China retreated to their own line, was thwarted in its attempt to clear through traffic, and the U.S. nearly dotted down the ball in the try zone. But China earned the subsequent scrum and cleared through an unguarded backfield.

There were moments of excitement - particularly entertaining was Walko-Suia spinning out of contact on several occasions - but between unforced errors and a Chinese defense that did well to slow down the breakdown, the U.S. could not retain enough possession to get over the line.

But China was equally stifled. The half ended with the hosts toeing the tryline, earning a scrum after the U.S. sent a forward pass inside its 10 meter. Excellent defense from Michel Navarro resulted in a steal, and Richelle Stephens was quick to support the tackle. Haley Langan smartly pushed Stephens into touch when the flyhalf scooped up the ball, and thus ended the first half without any damage.

China had its moments of brilliance, too; the difference being that those isolated moments came at the right time. After sending the second-half kickoff into touch, China regained possession after the U.S. knocked-on a switch near midfield. From the next scrum, the China played the U.S. defense - which sat on its haunches a bit - perfectly, putting Yueying Gao into the gap between Tess Feury and Whitney Wilson for the try. Yingying Shen converted for the 7-0 lead.

There was still plenty of time in the ballgame, and the U.S. looked as if it had escaped a damaging moment after Wilson was penalized for tackling a player, who was chasing a kick-ahead, without the ball. The U.S. regained possession after China knocked-on, but the Americans were now on their five meter. The Chinese scrumhalf - on multiple occasions - did an excellent job of disrupting scrumhalf Becca Jane Rosko's outlet pass, and all Stephens could do was fall onto the ball on the one meter. China got over the ball and dotted over the line for the game-sealer, 12-0.

Even though the U.S. was held scoreless, the result was a big improvement from the teams' first encounter. It's also important to note that China sat its most influential striker, Liu Xiaoqian, in the Bronze match. The U.S. finished 1-5-1 for 4th place.