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U.S. field hockey stars Lauren Crandall, Rachel Dawson retire

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Lauren Crandall and Rachel Dawson, who combined to play 577 times for the U.S. field hockey team since 2005, announced retirements Thursday.

Crandall and Dawson, both 31 years old, made their national-team debuts in 2005 and played in the last three Olympics. Crandall, Dawson and Katelyn Falgowski are the only Americans to play in three Olympic field hockey tournaments.

“Lauren and Rachel have been international powerhouses for an extended period,” U.S. coach Craig Parnham said in a press release.

Crandall and Dawson spearheaded a U.S. women’s field hockey program that made three straight Olympics after failing to qualify the previous three times (not counting its automatic spot at Atlanta 1996). The U.S. men’s team hasn’t qualified for an Olympics since 1956.

The U.S. women finished eighth at Beijing 2008, then last of 12 teams at London 2012. It rebounded to make the Rio Olympic quarterfinals, taking fifth overall with Crandall as captain for a second straight Olympics.

Crandall and Dawson were also part of Pan American Games gold-medal teams in 2011 and 2015.

Crandall was one of five nominees for the 2014 FIH Player of the Year.

VIDEO: Top field hockey moments from Rio

WATCH: Top field hockey moments of the Rio Olympics

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Both men’s and women’s field hockey had first timers on the podium in Rio receiving Olympic gold. For the men, Argentina earned gold, stunning Germany and defeating Belgium on its way there.

The women’s tournament had a shocking and dramatic end when Great Britain took down the reigning Olympic gold medalist the Netherlands in a shootout win and stayed undefeated on its quest for gold.

Team USA had a much improved campaign than they did in London, and were perhaps one of the biggest success stories in the field hockey tournament. They went 4-1 in pool play, winning the first four consecutive games, and advanced to the quarterfinal round.

Although ousted by bronze medalist Germany, Team USA’s finish in Rio was drastically better than London where they finished last in pool play.

As we take a look back on the field hockey tournament, from crazy penalty corner goals to exciting wins and historic upsets, here are the top moments from the 2016 Rio Games.

Great Britain beats Netherlands, wins first women’s field hockey gold medal

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With Netherlands having won two consecutive Olympic gold medals in women’s field hockey, their team arrived in Rio looking to add a third and strengthen their position as the best team in the sport.

But the Dutch ran into Great Britain, and after the teams finished regulation tied at three goals apiece the the Brits took gold by winning the shootout 2-0. Great Britain, bronze medalists in London four years ago, had never won a gold medal in women’s field hockey prior to this year. The gold is Great Britain’s third Olympic medal in the sport, with the first bronze being won in 1992 in Barcelona.

And with the victory, they kept Netherlands from becoming the first nation to win three consecutive women’s field hockey gold medals. India’s men’s field hockey team won six straight Olympic gold medals from 1928 to 1956.

Kitty Van Male’s goal 6:27 into the third period gave the Netherlands a 3-2 lead, and at the end of the period the two-time defending Olympic champions appeared to be in control. But Great Britain was able to create some scoring chances in the fourth period, and Nicola White’s goal on a penalty corner with a little over eight minutes remaining in regulation tied the score at three goals apiece.

Goals from Helen Richardson-Walsh and Hollie Webb gave Great Britain the shootout victory, with the Netherlands failing to score on any of their four attempts.

Germany took bronze with a 2-1 win over New Zealand earlier Friday.