USA Women Shine in Olympic Debut
Baker’s Dozen Douses World Cup Champion Holland, 6-4
Sydney, Australia—It couldn’t have been scripted any better. All the years of lobbying and sacrifice had finally paid off for the U.S. women’s Olympic water polo team, their triumph practically painted on their faces as they stood on the platform for introductions before a crowd of nearly 4,000 at the Ryde Aquatic Center.
This moment was particularly rewarding for Maureen O’Toole, who has waited for this opportunity longer than some of her teammates have been alive. The twice-retired living legend, who is finally living her Olympic dream, came through in spades for the U.S. squad on Saturday night.
O’Toole tossed in what amounted to be the game-winning goal in a 6-4 win over reigning World Cup champion Holland in the first game of the preliminary round of the Olympic Tournament.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said O’Toole, whose eight-year-old daughter, Kelly, was in attendance. “I’ve waited a long time for this, and
I’m loving every minute of it. I’m going to play hard, and win or lose, it will have been a great experience.”
The U.S. jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals by young guns Heather Moody and Ericka Lorenz. That lead allowed starting goalkeeper Bernie Orwig to settle in and get cozy in the net. Three impressive stuffs in the first four minutes of the quarter allowed the U.S. to take that lead into the second quarter.
Playmaker Brenda Villa added to the lead with 2:58 to play in the half, connecting from about six meters out from the point. Holland’s Danielle de Bruijn answered back 10 seconds later, skipping a point-blank shot past Orwig to make the score 3-1. That goal was the first of Holland’s on a 3-0 run, but O’Toole broke a 3-3 deadlock with 56 seconds to play in the third period, wiggling away from a defender at two-meters for the score.
After that, it was all Red, White, and Blue. Another goal by Lorenz and one by Robin Beauregard brought the U.S. lead to 6-3 with just over two minutes remaining in the game and a score by the Netherlands’ Karen Kuipers with six seconds to play capped of the scoring at 6-4. Orwig finished with 11 saves on the night.
In other games:
Australia 9, Kazakhstan 2:
In the first ever women’s Olympic water polo
game, Australia handily defeated Kazakhstan, 9-2. Kazakhstan’s Olga Lechshuk scored the tournament’s first goal, while teammate Svetlana Buravova hauled
down the first save.
Canada 7, Russia 7: In a hard fought, physical game, the Canadians came back from a 6-4 deficit to salvage a tie with the Russians in opening night action.
Up Next for the U.S.:
With one of the tournament’s biggest hurdles out of the way, the U.S. will now move on to play its North American rival Canada in a 6 p.m. game tonight (Sept. 17). These two teams last played each other back in July at the Holiday Cup in Los Alamitos, Calif. In two meetings, the U.S. came out on the right side of a tight game, including the tournament championship, which finished in a 5-4 win for the Stars and Stripers. Canada, who helped postpone the American entry into this year’s Olympics with a win at the 1999
FINA Cup, is led by lefthander Cora Campbell and Waneek Horn-Miller. Canada is currently 0-0-1 in the tournament after a 7-7 tie versus Russia yesterday.
U.S. Women Spanning Generations: The U.S. women’s team possesses the youngest player in the tournament in Ericka Lorenz, 19. It also holds claim to the tournament’s oldest player in Maureen O’Toole, 39. When asked by reporters what it might feel like to have Maureen as her “mum”, Lorenz, taken by the question, replied, “She rocks. I’d love to have her as my mom.”
Quoting Maureen: “Good answer, Ericka."
For live and line scores of all the games, photos, and other coverage of the water polo competition, log on to the official Australian Water Polo Web site at:
Additional coverage of the water polo games can be found on the following sites:
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