KIRISHI, Russia, May 17. THE World Champion U.S. women’s water polo team got edged out, 12-10, by host Russia before nearly 2,000 raucous fans on day two of the Kirishi Cup in Russia.
Team USA is 1-1 in the tournament after posting a 7-4 win over Australia yesterday (May 16) and will move on to close out pool play with Olympic host Greece tomorrow (May 18).
A relatively uneventful first quarter gave way to a high-tempo second quarter where the teams seesawed their way through a combined 11-goal display.
“It was a really entertaining second quarter,” said U.S. head coach Guy Baker. “Every time one team scored, the other answered right back.”
The third quarter saw the U.S. miss all three of its 6-on-5 chances, allowing Russia to forge a 10-7 lead.
With 2:10 left in the game, Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Stanford/Commerce WP) buried a 6-on-5 goal to pull the U.S. to within one at 11-10. But late in the game, the U.S. was whistled for an offensive foul, sending Russia out on the counterattack. Russia converted with 43 seconds remaining in regulation to make it a 12-10 contest. The U.S. drew an exclusion on its final possession, but was unable to connect.
The U.S. also had a hard time finding an answer for Russia’s center Olga Turova, the leading scorer at last year’s World Championships. By the time the water had settled, Turova had tossed in five of Russia’s 12 goals.
Both teams shot well on the 6-on-5, each going 7-for-11 with the player-up. USA’s Ericka Lorenz (San Diego, CA/Cal Berkeley), Natalie Golda (La Habra, CA/UCLA/New York AC), Gabbie Domanic (Santa Ana, CA/UCLA) and Ellen Estes (Novato, CA/Stanford) all had two goals in the loss.
According to Baker, the fans were just as much a part of the story as the players in the water.
“It was great,” he said. “There were 2,000 people screaming and cheering…it was a great experience. Their new pool here is amazing.”
The U.S. will close out group play tomorrow against Greece.
“The Greek players just finished playing in their league, so I think this will be the first time they’ve all competed together,” said Baker. “They have a new coach and they’re getting a lot better.”
-Courtesy USA Water Polo