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U.S. advances to semifinals with win over Japan

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ESPOO, Finland — Kendall Coyne Schofield scored a tournament-leading fifth goal Thursday to help the United States beat Japan 4-0 and advance to the semifinals of the women’s world championship.

Cayla Barnes had a goal and an assist and Hilary Knight and Dani Cameranesi also scored for the Americans, who have won the last four world titles and seven of the last eight.

Maddie Rooney had 10 saves for her second shutout of the tournament.

“It was a different game than we’re used to,” Knight said. “Japan showed up and they’re an extremely disciplined team. It’s fun to see how well they’ve done in this tournament and continue to do. But a win’s a win, and we got it.”

Japan reached the knockout round for the first time since it was instituted in 2011, while the U.S. was playing in their first quarterfinal after a change in the format meant that the top finisher in the preliminary rounds no longer receives a bye to the semifinals.

The Americans, who finished with 53 shots, took 22 of them in the first period and broke through when Knight scored on the rebound of Shelly Picard’s shot with 3:12 remaining.

Cameranesi scored the second goal on the power play with 10:38 left in the second period, barely beating Knight to the puck on a rebound in front of the crease. Barnes and Coyne Schofield, who extended her point streak to five games, finished off the scoring in the third.

“It was such a tough game, but a good challenge for us,” Japan captain Chiho Osawa said. “It was a very good experience for us because we (hadn’t played) against the USA for 10 years.”

The United States will play either Russia or Switzerland in the semifinals on Saturday.

Canada will face Germany and Finland plays Czech Republic in the other quarterfinal games later Thursday.

David Boudia wins U.S. title, qualifies for worlds after break from diving

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David Boudia, after a year away from diving, two more children, a concussion and a goodbye to the platform, is back in familiar territory. He’s on the U.S. team for the world championships.

Boudia, a 30-year-old, four-time Olympic medalist, outscored fellow Rio Olympian Michael Hixon to win the springboard at the U.S. Championships on Saturday.

The top two per individual event by cumulative score at nationals go to July’s worlds in South Korea. Boudia was in third place going into the finals but had the top Saturday score by 23.35 to leap onto the team with Hixon.

“It’s relieving, but in my mind, as an athlete, there’s a lot of work to be done before 2020,” Boudia said on NBCSN. “I have to learn new dives if I want to contend with the best in the world.”

Later Saturday, Rio Olympian Amy Cozad Magaña and Delaney Schnell made the world team in the women’s platform, with Schnell helping knock out Rio Olympian Jessica Parratto. Competition concludes Sunday with the women’s springboard and men’s platform.

Boudia, whose 72 career Olympic dives all came off the platform, switched to the more forgiving springboard after a February 2018 concussion.

He considered retiring after a third Olympics in Rio, where he earned synchro silver and individual bronze after an individual gold at London 2012. He even began a real-estate job in Indiana. But he announced a diving comeback in September 2017, saying he didn’t want to have any “what ifs” later in life.

Boudia then beat Hixon at the 2018 Winter Trials, proving he could master the new event. The other Rio Olympian on the springboard, Kristian Ipsen, has retired.

Boudia has competed at every Olympics and world championships since 2005, except in 2017 of course, and is the only U.S. diver to earn a medal in an individual Olympic event at either meet since 2009.

“I don’t think I have been that nervous since 2005,” Boudia said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five.”

Cozad Magaña, 28, placed seventh in synchro at the Rio Olympics and plans to retire after 2020. Schnell, 20, was sixth individually at the 2016 Olympic Trials and second at the 2017 world trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

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U.S. men’s rugby team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. men's rugby sevens team
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The U.S. became the first men’s rugby team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, clinching its spot Saturday during penultimate leg of this season’s World Series.

The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, mathematically secured a place in the top four of the World Series final standings by advancing out of pool play in London. The knockout rounds are Sunday, but a top-eight finish was all that was necessary for Olympic qualification.

Now the U.S. can focus on a goal it didn’t have at the start of the year: winning the nation’s first World Series season title. It entered London with a slim, three-point lead over Olympic champion Fiji, one that would be erased if Fiji and the U.S. advance to Sunday’s final and Fiji wins.

Regardless, the season champion will be decided at the 10th and final World Series stop in Paris next weekend.

The Americans held onto the standings lead despite being without two stars — two-time World Player of the Year Perry Baker and Danny Barrett — the last three World Series stops. Baker and Barrett returned from injuries for the London leg.

Four years ago, the U.S. needed to go to a continental qualifier to earn in its place in Rio. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in 2016, 92 years after the traditional 15-a-side rugby last appeared at the Games. The Americans ended up ninth in Brazil, missing the quarterfinals on a tiebreaker.

World powers Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa are in position to join the U.S. as Olympic qualifiers through the World Series.

Seven more nations will qualify via continental tournaments later this year and a last-chance event in June 2020. Japan received an automatic spot as host nation.

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