London, England – The Netherlands won its second straight Olympic women's field hockey gold medal on Friday, knocking off reigning world champion Argentina.
Thanks to goals from captain Maartje Paumen and Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel, the Netherlands medaled at the Olympics for a fifth straight time. It captured a silver in 2004 following back-to-back bronzes and bested China in the 2008 Beijing Games final.
"That goal just had to be scored, we had been better than them (Argentina) for the entire game and if you take too long scoring, it only gets more and more difficult, so it just had to happen," said Dirkse van den Heuvel.
Joyce Sombroek stopped all four shots by Argentina, including the only one off the stick of former seven-time International Hockey Federation Player of the Year, Luciana Aymar.
Though Aymar, who is nicknamed "The Magician," became the first women to win four Olympic field hockey medals, and the first Argentinean to win four medals at the Olympics in any sport, she had no tricks up her sleeve in her quest for her first gold on her 35th birthday.
"It was a very difficult match for us. Netherlands are a really good team. We did everything possible to win, but it didn't work out," said Aymar, who had previously said this will be her last Olympic Games.
"We were doing fine until they scored their first goal. It's a real shame. It's still a silver medal and overall we are very happy about how we've played in this tournament. The team are a sensational group of players and at least we have a silver medal."
Argentina has medaled in four straight Olympic Games, sandwiching a pair of silvers around bronze medals in 2004 and 2008.
The Netherlands became the second team to win back-to-back gold medals in women's field hockey, joining Australia (1996-2000).
Paumen, meanwhile, netted the 14th goal of her Olympic career, surpassing Australia's Alyson Annan for the most all-time in this tournament.
Great Britain won its first women's field hockey medal in 20 years with a 3-1 win in the bronze medal match over New Zealand, which lost the first ever Olympic shootout contest against the Netherlands in Wednesday's semifinal matchup.
In early classification action, Australia shut out China to grab fifth place, while Belgium claimed 11th place with a win over the United States.