|IRVINE, California, February 23.THE USA Women's National Team completed FINA World League Prelims with a perfect record after defeating Canada 11-7. The match took place at the Woollett Aquatics Complex capping off a day of CIF-SS High School playoff action. Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Stanford/Olympic Club), Lauren Wenger (Long Beach, CA/USC/NYAC), and Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Stanford/Diablo) scored two goals apiece to lead the offense. Betsey Armstrong (Ann Arbor, MI/Michigan/NYAC) posted nine saves in the win.
The United States started off strong with a tally from Wenger to build a 1-0 lead. Canada then went on a three goal run to grab a 3-1 lead with 3:21 left in the period. Team USA came back strong with goals from Courtney Mathewson (Anaheim Hills, CA/UCLA/NYAC) and Kelly Rulon (San Diego, CA/UCLA/NYAC) to even the match at 3-3 to close out the quarter.
In the second period the United States regained the lead on a Maggie Steffens goal. Canada knotted the match on their next possession, but Team USA countered with scores from Elsie Windes (Portland, OR/California/Tualitin Hills WP) and Villa to go up 6-4. Canada tacked on a late skip shot score with :25 remaining in the half, leaving the United States in front 6-5 at halftime.
Team USA surged ahead by two goals just moments into the third quarter when Kami Craig (Santa Barbara, CA/USC/Santa Barbara WP) redirected a pass from Villa into the net for a 7-5 lead. Canada closed to within one at 7-6 with 5:11 left in the period only to see two more goals come in from Melissa Seidemann (Walnut Creek, CA/Stanford/Stanford) and Steffens for a 9-6 USA lead after three periods.
Less than thirty seconds into the fourth quarter Villa fired home a goal from deep off the cross bar that put the United States in command at 10-6. Canada connected on a penalty shot 90 seconds later but the United States used their next possession to find the cage on a Wenger shot for an 11-7 lead with 5:34 left in the match.
Canada's attempt at a rally were snuffed out, including a big save by Armstrong with 2:21 remaining en route to the victory. The United States went 5/11 on power plays while Canada was 2/10. Canada went 1/1 on penalty shots and Team USA did not attempt any penalties.
USA 11 (3, 3, 3, 2) B. Villa 2, M. Steffens 2, L. Wenger 2, C. Mathewson 1, K. Rulon 1, E. Windes 1, K. Craig 1, M. Seidemann 1
CAN 7 (3, 2, 1, 1)
Saves - USA - B. Armstrong 9
6x5 - USA - 5/11 - CAN 2/10
Canada Tops Brazil 13-8
Prior to taking on the United States in the evening, Canada defeated Brazil 13-8 in a late morning match in Los Alamitos, CA. The game saw the most competitive outing from Brazil at the FINA World League Prelims. Canada went up 4-2 after the first quarter and led 7-3 at halftime. In the third quarter Brazil made their run closing to within two scores at 9-7 with 1:24 left in the period.
Canada went up 10-7 to close out the quarter and then distanced themselves in the fourth quarter adding on three more goals to take the victory 13-8.
CAN 13 (4, 3, 3, 3)
BRA 8 (2, 1, 4, 1)
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Courtesy of: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE