The Beulah Awards

I'm on European women's soccer overload here in Beulahland.  As I watch the Game 1s and Game 3s of the UEFA Women's Championship (the Game 2s are on tape and will be added if I ever get around to watching them), some performances, people, circumstances and things have just stood out.  As I am forever trying to think of something to post so this site isn't just dead in the water, I have decided to make these performances, people, circumstances and things the recipients of the First and most likely Last UEFA Women's Championship Beulah Awards.  So, keeping in mind that I watched each game with varying degrees of focus and attention and without further ado:

Group Play - Game 1s -  Finland v. England; Norway v. Germany; Sweden v. Denmark; France v. Italy

Favorite 17 Year Old: Karen Carney, England. Wonderful spark for England with a healthy dose of the cockiness that any top notch international striker needs. She reminds me a lot of Heather O’Reilly - she has no clue she’s supposed to be intimidated out there.

Most Exciting 15 Minute Stretch: The last 15 minutes of England-Finland. Due in large part to the aforementioned 17 year old and a surprisingly scrappy Finnish team, that was an edge of your seat finish

Player Who Reminds Me Most of a Retired US Star: Jane Tornqvist. She’s not the best player on the field, but she is a nice calming presence on the defense just like Carla Overbeck used to be. Watching her play made me a little nostalgic for the good captain.

Most Vacuum-Like Sucking Vortex From Whence No Ball Emerged: The Swedish strikers from about the 30 minute mark on. Just tried to do way too much 1 v. 1. Fun to watch, but ultimately not real fruitful.

Favorite Use of an All Too Seldom Used Shot: Hoda Lattaf’s chip shot goal in the Fr-It game.

Most Aggravating Failure to Use Said Chip Shot: Norway v. Germany . . . pick a missed Norwegian opportunity, any missed Norwegian opportunity. It is what I find to be one of the most frustrating and confounding things in the women’s game - the failure of top strikers and midfielders to successfully execute chip shot goals (or chip shot shots on goal). 9 times out of 10 when a goal keeper is down and a striker or midfielder is within 5-10 yards of said keeper, they boot it right into the keeper’s hands or 10 feet over the goal - why in the world top players in the women’s game can’t execute a simple little chip shot over a keeper who’s down or off her line continues to baffle me . . . Why they so often don’t even try is even more baffling still.

On the other hand, Most Surprising Performance by a Much Maligned Group: the Norwegian midfield - I thought they outplayed the German midfield for much of the first half.

Best Long Distance Strike: Stensland’s strike that was just inches wide.

Best GK performance: Silke Rottenberg

Most Dynamic Duo: Marinette Pichon and Hoda Lattaf - just a fun duo to watch.

Most Entertainingly Melodramatic Dives: Hoda Lataff. She’s just fun on so many levels.

Most Face Time for a Defender Not Named Mitts: Elena Ficarelli. For about the first 10-15 minutes at the start of the second half, we got close ups of her every time there was a stop in play. And still, I am left to wonder why . . .

Most Superfluous Use of Ridiculously Stupid Fouls: Italy v. France and France v. Italy as the first half was winding down. Things seemed to get a little "chippy" on both sides after it became apparent Italy was simply outmatched.

Move That Destroyed my Fantasy Team’s Chances Before They Really Got Started: the elevation of Lindahl to Sweden’s #1 keeper. Who knew that was going to happen? Did you know that was going to happen? I sure had no clue . . . I didn’t want to play any stupid fantasy game anyway . . . really . . . dumb game . . .

Group Play - Game 3 - England-Sweden; Denmark-Finland; Germany-France; Norway-Italy

Fastest Player: Eniola Aluko. Wow. I mean . . . wow.

Luckiest Goalkeeper Moment: Hedvig Lindahl on the ball she smashed into Aluko’s face and deflected just wide of goal. Which leads to . . .

Unluckiest Face: That belonging to Eniola Aluko . . . that had to hurt . . . and it didn’t even score.

Best Performance of a Wily Veteran Defender Against a Brash Young Striker: Kristin Bengtsson v. Karen Carney. Bengtsson had her and shut her down most of the day.

The Where’s Waldo Award for Superstar Strikers Missing in Action: Hanna Ljungberg and Victoria Svensson. Were they even out there the first half? Svensson made her presence felt a little in the second half, but this outing was definitely a disappointment for them both.

Best Performance in a Losing Effort: England. They really had the run of play most of the game as Sweden seemed content to sit on a one goal lead. This is a team definitely moving in the right direction. With continued funding and support, they’ve got a great shot to make the next WWC field.

Most Shamelessly Unapologetic Homers: The crew calling the England-Sweden game. And still, it was more sophisticated commentary then we ever get on women’s broadcasts in the US.

Best Goal by a Player Whose Name Makes me Think of Tentacled Sea Creatures: Laura Kalmari’s opening goal.

Best Performance by a Golden Domer: Anne Makinen

Halftime’s Still 30 Seconds Away Award: Denmark for their 45th minute goal. The entire Finnish defense, including the goalkeeper, was caught flat footed and ball watching . . . and they all watched Sorensen put the ball right in the back of the net.

Best Breakthrough Performance:  Finland, for their first ever visit to the Semis.

Best Save: Sarah Bouhaddi for the double save on a Prinz shot then a Pohlers point blank shot on the rebound.  Chip it, Connie, CHIP IT!!!!

Best Save by the Cross Bar: The save on Renate Lingor's corner kick.  Beautiful corner, just a touch too high.

Second Best Save by the Cross Bar: The save on Inka Grings's smash in the 78th minute.  A great German sequence that ended in a smash that ricocheted off the bottom of the cross bar.  Couldn't have been off by more than an inch.

The Rodney Dangerfield I Get No Respect Award: Stephanie Mugneret-Beghe.  Was everyone on the French bench really so busy that no one could go help her off the field.  It was bad enough they left her out there as long as they did, then she was discouraged from cutting across the field to get back to her bench and no one came to help her on the long long walk around.  Don't worry Stephanie, the nice folks here at Beulah Sports have contacted PATIM (People Against the Torture of Injured Midfielders), help is on the way.

Best Spin Move: Marinette Pichon.  She spun away from Omilade and left her lying on the turf.  Sadly, the rest of the run toward goal did not work out so well.

Most Surprisingly Enjoyable Team: France.  Very entertaining forwards, especially Marinette Pichon; a solid, if unspectacular midfield; and the nice dependable no nonsense kind of defenders that I always appreciate (Georges and Diacre).  It's a shame that England and France are in the same WWC qualifying group. 

Third Best Save by the Cross Bar: The save on Dagny Mellgren's shot in the 29th minute.  It was a solid smash, over the Italian GK's head that ricocheted off the bottom of the cross bar.  This would have been the best cross bar save had Norway not scored off the ensuing corner kick and thereby nullified it's significance.  Good effort by Cross Bar though . . . busy busy day for Cross today.

Too Cute Award:  Italy.  If one more Italian player pops the ball up over her own head and chases it rather than trapping it and actually having some control over the ball, I'm turning this game off.  Just bad bad fundamentals.  If you're playing a team that is clearly your inferior, fine, be cute.  When you're playing Norway, trap the dang ball, keep possession and build your attack.  I've seen this 4 times in the past 15 minutes, they have turned the ball over every single time and every single time they should have had possession and made a run at goal.  There is no excuse for it.

Consistently Best Use of Corner Kicks: Norway.  They needed goals, they're not wasting their dead ball opportunities.

Goal That Made Me Go Ohhhhhh!!!!: Dagny Mellgren's strike from Isabell Herlovsen. 

Most Interesting Semi Final Matchup: Sweden-Norway

Semi Final Matchup Most Likely to Leave Me Wincing in Pain: Germany-Finland . . . I hurt for the Finns already.