LONDON, England, May 4. THE USA Women's National Team opened play at the FINA VISA Water Polo International with an 11-6 win over Hungary. Behind four goals from Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Stanford/Diablo) and five saves from Betsey Armstrong (Ann Arbor, MI/Michigan/NYAC) Team USA picked up the victory in the first match played at the 2012 Olympic Water Polo Arena.
The United States offense got started immediately, less than a minute into the period with a power play goal from Steffens for a 1-0 lead. Hungary answered on their next possession to even the match at 1-1. Team USA had a response with three straight scores from Lauren Wenger (Long Beach, CA/USC/NYAC), Annika Dries (Laguna Beach, CA/Stanford/SET), and Melissa Seidemann (Walnut Creek, CA/Stanford/Stanford) to go up 4-1 with 4:35 left. Hungary punched in a score late in the period to leave the United States leading by two, 4-2 headed to the second period.
In the second, action started identical to the first with Maggie Steffens hitting on a power play, this time some thirty seconds into the session, for a 5-2 lead. Hungary battled back with two straight scores to make it 5-4 with 5:05 play. That was the tally until 2:29 left in the period when Dries delivered a nifty backhand score from two meters for a 6-4 advantage. A minute later Hungary found the net to close within one. Team USA countered with back to back scores, Rulon hit for a lob and Steffens hit another power play score for a 8-5 lead at intermission.
Hungary struck first to open the third period, closing to within 8-6 just ninety seconds in, but that would be as close as they would get. A close goal was disallowed moments later and that would be the last of the Hungarian offense. Steffens scored her final tally of the evening, with a score right as sides came even following an exclusion. Then with the just 14 seconds left in the period and the shot clock set to expire, Seidemann was able to beat the keeper for a 10-6 USA lead going to the fourth.
The United States defense locked down Hungary in the fourth, not allowing a single ball into the cage. Rulon would score the period's lone goal on a power play with 3:46 left and Team USA went up 11-6. They never looked back cruising to a five goal victory. The United States went 6/9 on power plays while Hungary struggled going 1/4, neither team attempted a penalty shot.
Team USA is back in action tomorrow when they take on Australia at 6:30pm local time/10:30am pst.
Notes: Tickets were reportedly sold out for the four day event, the arena was close to half full for the USA-Hungary match. The pool features illuminated pylons for the two and five meter lines. Lighted strips run the on the floor of the pool as well, denoting two meters and five meters. These lights are only on when the ball is in the offensive end.
USA 11 (4, 4, 2, 1) M. Steffens 4, A. Dries 2, K. Rulon 2, M. Seidemann 2, L. Wenger 1
HUN 6 (2, 3, 1, 0)
Saves – USA – B. Armstrong 5
6×5 – USA – 6/9 – HUN 1/4
Penalties – USA – 0/0 – HUN 0/0
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