USA Women’s Water Polo Takes Second Place At Six Nations Tourney In Australia

SYDNEY, Australia, August 12. THE USA Women's Senior National Team fell to Australia 10-8 in final of the Six Nations Tournament held at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Center. The bout was a rematch of the famed Gold Medal match from 10 years ago in the first Olympics for water polo. Despite the loss, Team USA's Kami Craig (Santa Barbara, CA/Santa Barbara) was named tourney MVP and joined on all the all-tournament squad with Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Commerce), Anne Belden (Newport Beach, CA/Bruin), and Lolo Silver (Long Beach, CA/NYAC). Now the United States readies for the FINA World Cup starting on August 17 in Christchurch, New Zealand.

As for this match it was a typical close battle between the two storied opponents with the score see-sawing back and forth. The United States got things cooking early when Villa hit on a power play score for a 1-0 lead, that was answered about a minute later on an Australia goal from inside for a tie match at 1-1. The red, white, and blue got one back when Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Diablo) ripped the net for a 2-1 lead. This was countered by an Australia goal minutes later but the United States had the last word in the period when Belden connected on a counter attack for a 3-2 lead going to the second.

In the second period Australia scored on a penalty shot to tie the match at 3-3 and then hit on a power play goal moments later for a 4-3 lead, their first of the match. At the 2:35 mark in the period the ball came back to the Villa and the three-time Olympian answered with a lob shot for a tie match at 4-4. Kelly Rulon (Point Loma, CA/NYAC) followed with an outside shot for a 5-4 lead and then Silver hit from deep for a 6-4 lead at halftime.

The third quarter started strong in favor of Australia as they scored back to back scores to tie the match at 6-6. Following an Aussie exclusion Silver scored on a stellar give from Belden for a 7-6 lead. The back and forth continued when the Aussies put home a power play goal to tie the game at 7-7. Craig worked inside to draw a penalty which was converted by Silver and the United States were back in front 8-7, however that would be their last goal of the match. The green and gold found the cage with just eight seconds left in the period and tied the game at 8-8 going into the fourth.

Going to the fourth all knotted up the defenses of both sides became a key focus. Neither team could muster a goal until 3:13 left in the period when Australia finally broke through with a shot off the post and in for a 9-8 lead. The breaks continued in favor of Australia when they got a deflected shot to fall in for a 10-8 lead. Final chances for the United States proved for naught and Australia came away winners of the championship at 10-8.

Silver led the USA attack as the Australian league standout scored three goals. Betsey Armstrong (Ann Arbor, MI/NYAC) was a force in the cage impounding 15 shots for the match. Team USA went 2-7 on power plays while Australia was 2-9, both teams went 1-1 on penalty shots.

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