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Hope Solo Tips One Over the Bar
Comparisons to the men's game are as unavoidable as they are unhelpful. Yes, the women's game is slower and the shots and challenges less powerful. Most who level those criticisms at least see the flipside: the game allows more space and time on the ball, resulting in some fantastic refinements of technique, as best exemplified by Brazil's Marta.
But the comparison most people find most damaging to the reputation of women's football is in goalkeeping. There is a persistent belief that the standard of women's goalkeeping is simply dire, and it's a blight on the game.
In reality, there are some outstanding keepers in the women's game. Germany's No. 1, Nadine Angerer, went through the entire World Cup 2007 tournament without conceding a goal. USA keeper Hope Solo has strung together over a thousand minutes of clean sheets.
There are two factors that perpetuate the myth of terrible goalkeeping. One is the quality gap between the top and bottom teams in women's soccer. This is narrowing, but still noticeable, and obviously the top teams know how to exploit inexperience in goal in ways bound to look like spectacular gaffes. Second is the size factor. Women are, after all, proportionally smaller than men, and will therefore get proportionally less coverage of goal.
The irony is that this coverage is much more in line with how the game was designed to be played, with average player size significantly smaller in the 1880s. So stop worrying about the state of goalkeeping, and enjoy the goals!