USA Juniors Water Polo team tops Russia 7-5 and play Australia for gold on Saturday

Perth, Australia ­ December 14th ­ The USA Women¹s Junior National Team came from behind and beat Russia 7-5 to advance to the gold medal match tomorrow against Australia. It is the first time in USA Water Polo history that a junior national team has advanced to the championship game at the FINA Junior World Championships.

"This was a great team win," exclaimed coach John Wright. "We were down 2-0 after the first quarter, then 4-2 during the 2nd quarter, only to come back with 5 unanswered goals. Our strengths tonight were out counter-attack, our defense and our teamwork. We hope to make the most of this incredible opportunity."

Russia entered the game with two of the top three scorers in the tournament, a 6-0 record, and an equally impressive counter attack. But the USA juniors came out in top form, and relied on a wicked counter attack that proved too fast for the Russians to handle. In addition, seven different USA juniors scored in the game including Ashley Stachowski (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/TRAP), Ericka Lorenz (San Diego, CA), Amber Stachowski (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/Golden West), Gabrielle Domanic (Santa Ana, CA/SoCal), Thalia Munro (Santa Barbara,CA/Santa Barbara), Maureen Flanagan (Honolulu, HI/Hawaiian Islands), and Julie Gardner (Atherton, CA/Stanford).

Team USA takes on Australia tomorrow for the gold, after the Aussies edged Hungary 6-5. The USA and Australia played earlier in the week, and battled to a 5-5 tie. The USA was up by a goal in that game, but Australia scored on a power play advantage with thirty-six seconds, and Kristina Kunkel (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/Golden West) barred out a shot at the buzzer which kept the game even at game¹s end. The game begins at 2 p.m. Australia time/6 a.m. PST), and will have a live game cast at

Box Scores 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
USA 0 4 1 2 7
RUS 2 2 0 1 5

Goal Scorers:
USA- Ashley Stachowski 1, Ericka Lorenz 1, Amber Stachowski 1, Gabrielle Domanic 1, Thalia Munro 1, Maureen Flanagan 1, Julie Gardner 1.

RUS- Natalia Shepelina 1, Ekaterina Salimova 1, Ksenia Kiseleva 1, Veronika Linkova 2.

Goalie Saves:
USA- Emily Feher 7 Total Attempts including scores = 22
RUS- Evgueniia Protsenko 6 Total Attempts including scores = 18

USA- 2 for 3, plus one scored penalty shot
RUS- 2 for 5

Other News:
Australia 6 Hungary 5
Germany 7 Greece 5
New Zealand 5 Canada 4
Italy 8 Venezuela 6
Brazil 11 South Africa 4

Play by play

Russia scored on its first possession of the game and pulled ahead 2-0 on a last ditch lob shot over the head of Emily Feher (Santa Ana, CA/SoCal). In the second quarter, Munro put Team USA on the boards in a hurry with a counter attack goal in their first possession of the quarter. Russia answered right back with a power play goal, followed by Ashley Stachowski¹s bullet from the two-meter position to keep the USA close 3-2. Russia earned another power play advantage at 4:11, in which Natalia Shepelina put away to put the team ahead 4-2. That lead lasted less than two minutes, as lefthander Domanic and Gardner each found the net on two power play advantages to even the score at four. In the third quarter, all was silent until Feher connected perfectly with Flanagan on a breakaway goal at 3:40 that put the USA ahead 5-4.

In the final quarter, Gardner earned a penalty shot on Team USA¹s first possession, which Lorenz put away to widen the lead by two. Amber Stachowski followed with a counter attack goal, the fourth of the game, that put the USA in cruise control with a three goal lead. Russia did not let down, and at 3:29 Ksenia Kiseleva shot a rocket from outside that scored and thinned the lead 7-5. Russia stole the ball on the next possession, and took a key shot after earning a power play advantage, but the ball barred out and the USA took possession. The USA continued to control the ball and spread out the offense to take time off the clock. A frustrated Russian player was ejected with less than a minute in the match, in which the USA took possession to run out the clock. A key turnover insued with two seconds left, in which the Russians took a last ditch shot which sailed short of the goal and the USA took the victory

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