LOS ALAMITOS, California, July 5. WITH a 4th of July celebration looming, the U.S. Olympic Women's Water Polo Team did not disappoint the home crowd, topping Hungary 14-8. Fireworks after the game were prefaced by offensive fireworks in the pool as for the second straight game, Team USA scored in double figures. Heather Petri (Orinda, CA/California/NYAC) scored three goals while Tumua Anae (Newport Beach, CA/USC/SOCAL) went all four periods in the cage, stopping 13 shots.
Team USA got off to a quick start with Lauren Wenger (Long Beach, CA/USC/NYAC) scoring in the first thirty seconds on a lob shot for a 1-0 lead. Hungary answered on their next possession to even the match at 1-1. Some three minutes later Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Stanford/Olympic Club) lobbed in a power play try for a 2-1 lead. Then Annika Dries (Laguna Beach, CA/Stanford/SET) closed the period with a power play score for a 3-1 lead after one.
Hungary battled back in the second period, scoring the first goal with 5:57 left to draw within 3-2. They followed by blocking a Team USA penalty shot to keep things close. Physical play would dominate on both ends for the next five minutes as neither side scored a goal. Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Stanford/Diablo) broke through with :54 left in the period on a power play score for a 4-2 lead. Petri closed the first half with a bang, scoring a power play goal on a deflected shot for a 5-2 lead at the break.
In the third the Hungarians again rallied as they scored two straight power play goals to close within 5-4 with 5:42 left. That only seemed to ignite the USA offense as they then went on a scoring barrage. Five straight goals from the Americans followed including Petri, Kelly Rulon (San Diego, CA/UCLA/NYAC), Courtney Mathewson (Anaheim Hills, CA/UCLA/NYAC), Wenger, and Maggie Steffens. With 2:42 left in the period, Team USA built a 10-4 advantage. Hungary tacked on a late goal with :11 left in the period, making the score 10-5 headed to the fourth.
The United States put the match away in the fourth opening the period with three straight scores to take a 13-5 lead. Petri hit on a power play, Rulon connected on a penalty shot, and Elsie Windes (Portland, OR/California/Tualatin Hills WP) found the cage in the three goal run. Hungary scored two straight to make it 13-7 in favor of Team USA with 3:03 left. Mathewson scored the last goal for the home team with 2:25 left to go up 14-7. Hungary would score one final goal but it did not factor in the decision and the United States went on for the win, 14-8.
Team USA went 6/12 on power plays and 1/2 on penalty shots while Hungary was 5/10 on power plays and did not attempt a penalty. Team USA and Hungary will meet again on Friday evening at UC-San Diego at 6pm pst. Tickets will be available at the door. They close the series on Sunday, July 8 at Corona del Mar HS in Newport Beach, CA. That match is scheduled to begin at 3pm.
USA 14 (3, 2, 5, 4) H. Petri 3, C. Mathewson 2, K. Rulon 2, M. Steffens 2, L. Wenger 2, E. Windes 1, A. Dries 1, B. Villa
HUN 8 (1, 1, 3, 3)
Saves – USA – T. Anae 13
6×5 – USA – 6/12 – HUN – 5/10
Penalties – USA 1/2 – HUN 0/0
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