USA Women’s Water Polo National Team Falls to Dutch, 8-7

NIJVERDAL, The Netherlands, March 30. THE USA Women's National Team competed in their first official match of 2011 falling to the Dutch Women's National Team 8-7 in an exhibition match as part of a two week European training trip. The Dutch used a strong first half to build an early lead and were able to stave off an American rally late in the match to claim the victory, a rematch of the 2008 Olympic Games final.

Team USA struck first in the match when Kami Craig (Santa Barbarara, CA/Santa Barbara) connected for a score and a 1-0 lead. Craig, who is playing professionally in Greece in 2011 joined her team for the two week trip and got them on the board early. The Netherlands came right back with consecutive goals to lead 2-1 after the first quarter.

In the second period the Dutch went up 3-1 before Kelly Rulon (San Diego, CA/NYAC) answered with a score to draw within one at 3-2. Again the home team had an answer with consecutive goals and Team USA trailed 5-2 at halftime. The second half saw a rally as the United States would score three of the next four goals started by Jillian Kraus (Tustin, CA/SoCal). Lolo Silver (Long Beach, CA/NYAC) scored shortly thereafter and then with just 1:46 remaining in the period Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Commerce) answered the bell with a score and it was 6-5 game in favor of the Netherlands. Despite time winding down the Dutch tacked on two more goals to rebuild their lead to 8-5, one coming from Yasemin Smit who led all scorers with five tallies on the evening.

With just one period remaining the United States started again to try and erase the deficit. Anne Belden (Newport Beach, CA/NYAC) hit for a score followed by Elsie Windes (Portland, OR/Tulatin Hills WP) and it was an 8-7 game with 3:55 to play. The United States would get no closer in this match and the Netherlands would hang on for a one goal victory. Emily Feher (Santa Ana, CA/NYAC) started the first half of the match and made four saves. For Feher it was a return to Nijverdal where she competed for the club Fysius Het Ravijn in 2009-2010. Betsey Armstrong (Ann Arbor, MI/NYAC) worked the cage in the second half also posting four saves.

Team USA will continue their training trip in the Netherlands before venturing to Italy where they will take on the Orizzonte club in an exhibition match. Orizzonte is the longtime professional club of USA veteran Brenda Villa.

NED – 8 (2, 3, 3, 0) Y. Smit 5, N. Vermeer 2, I. van Belkum 1
USA – 7 (1, 1, 3, 2) A. Belden 1, L. Silver 1, J. Kraus 1, K. Rulon 1, B. Villa 1, E. Windes 1, K. Craig 1

Saves – USA – E. Feher 4, B. Armstrong 4

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