Saori Ariyoshi

USWNT’s Lloyd, Johnston, Rapinoe shortlisted for Women’s World Cup Golden Ball; Solo for Golden Glove

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When Sunday’s final of the 2015 Women’s World Cup kicks off at BC Place in Vancouver, Canada, five of the 22 players suiting up for the US women’s national team and Japan will be finalists for the Golden Ball award at this summer’s tournament, as announced by FIFA on Thursday.

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Similarly, two of the three finalists for the Golden Glove award, given to the tournament’s best goalkeeper as voted by the media, will be in goal as the pair of 2011 Women’s World Cup finalists do battle once again in the 2015 finale.

Candidates for Golden Ball

  • Saori Ariyoshi (Japan)
  • Lucy Bronze (England) 
  • Amandine Henry (France)
  • Julie Johnston (USA)
  • Carli Lloyd (USA)
  • Aya Miyama (Japan)
  • Megan Rapinoe (USA)
  • Celia Sasic (Germany)

Who three Americans and two Japanese on the shortlist for the Golden Ball, Sunday’s final between those two sides could very well determine the eventual winner of the award for the tournament’s best player.

A World Cup-winning goal could seal the award for any of three attackers (Lloyd, Miyama and Rapinoe), or a shutout and the game-winning goal coming from somewhere else in the team might just swings things in favor of the two defensive stalwarts (Ariyoshi and Johnston).

Candidates for Golden Glove

  • Nadine Angerer (Germany)
  • Ayumi Kaihori (Japan)
  • Hope Solo (USA)

Likewise, another shutout in the final — Kaihori has conceded three goals all tournament, while Solo has given up just one, including zero in the USWNT’s last 513 minutes played — will almost surely see either the Japanese or American shot-stopper take home the heaviest goalkeeper glove known to man.

Japan 2-1 Netherlands: Champs’ class outlasts game Dutch effort, stoppage time goal

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Saori Ariyoshi’s first international goal in 37 caps looked set to be the one that sent Japan to the quarterfinals of the 2015 Women’s World Cup until a frenetic ending made Mizuho Sakaguchi’s late goal stand up as the winner in a 2-1 game.

The reigning champions threatened the goal far more often than the Netherlands on Tuesday night, and the underdogs couldn’t find their way to an equalizer.

A cheeky combination goal in the 78th minute salted it away, as Sakaguchi used a dummied pass and buried a shot from outside the 18 to make it 2-0.

A horrible goalkeeping gaffe from Ayumi Kaihori gave the Netherlands hope in the second minute of stoppage time, as Kirsten van de Ven was credited with the lone Dutch goal in a 2-1 loss.

[ USMNT: Gold Cup roster | Possible lineups ]

The game’s first striking moment was a comically-terrible miss from Manon Melis of the Dutch

Ariyoshi struck in 10th minute, following up the fire a fluffed clearance into the goal from just inside the 18.

The second half saw the desperation of the Dutch lead to free-flowing play and excitement if not genuine opportunities.

Japan should’ve probably found an insurance goal, but all goals have been hard to come by for the champs. To be fair, Holland hasn’t allowed many either, with just two in group play.

Through 60 minutes, Japan’s tight defense only sacrificed one dangerous free kick, and the wall did its job to thwart the chance.

A 73rd minute cross from the Dutch saw the bounding pass leap over the head of not one but two would-be scorers.

But the Netherlands almost scored off a great 76th minute corner kick, as Kaihori pawed away a would-be own goal, and Japan’s defense blocked the resulting rebound chance.

Shortly after that, Japan finally hammered that proverbial nail into the coffin. But Kaihori flubbed Van de Ven’s bouncing shot into the net in minute No. 92 to provide some late drama.

Japan will face Australia on Saturday in Edmonton.