WOMEN'S WATERPOLO - USA QUALIFIES FOR OLYMPICS -- May 3, 2000
Palermo, Sicily (April 29) The USA Women's Water Polo Team qualified for the Sydney Olympic Games today with a hard fought 6-5 win over Hungary at the World Women's Olympic Qualification Tournament in Palermo, Sicily.
Hungary's Kata Redei scored a goal on Hungary's first possession of the game, but the USA rallied with three successive power play goals by Robin Beaureguard (Huntington Beach, CA), Coralie Simmons (Hemet, CA) and Heather Petrie (Orinda, CA) to give the USA a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period. Gubba Sheehy scored in the first minute of the second period to give the USA a 4-1 lead. After Stieber scored for Hungary, Maureen O'Toole (Piedmont, CA) netted the USA's fourth power play goal of the game to reclaim a three goal lead at halftime.
Stieber scored her second goal at the start of the third frame and 3:38 Coralie Simmons was called for a Penalty foul. Stieber converted the penalty
shot and the score was 5-4. One minute later, Stieber netted her fourth goal to tie the score at five.
On the first possession of the fourth quarter, Hungary's Edit Sipos was excluded and Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA) converted for what proved to be the
game winner"I'm incredibly proud of this team," said US coach Guy Baker. "They've come a long way in two years. To beat a European team in Europe with the Olympic Games on the line is a great achievement."
In the second semi-final game, Italy's Guisy Malato scored three goals but it wasn't enough as Russia's Tatiana Petrova scored in the final minute to upset
the defending World and European Champion from Italy 8-7 and claim the sixth and final spot in the Sydney Olympic Games. Earlier in the day, Kazakhstan
bested Japan, 9 - 4 earning the first ticket to Sydney of the day.
The six-team Olympic field is now complete: Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Russia and the USA. All six teams will come to the United
States for the USA Water Polo Olympic Team Selection Tournament, July 4 - 9,
in Los Alamitos, CA.