Athens, Greece – Australia, the favorite to win the Olympic gold, overcame an incredible defensive performance by the USA women's water polo team by scoring two late-game goals, to win the Thetis Cup championship game.
After a scoreless first half, Heather Moody (Green River, WY) broke the ice by scoring a powerplay goal to give the USA the lead at 6:18 of the third period. The Australians tied the game at 5:18 of the fourth period and then won the game when center-forward Simone Hankin scored a back-hand goal.
"The game was a chess match," said US coach, Guy Baker (UCLA). "I think both
teams know each other so well that it seemed like we knew what they were
going to do and they knew what we were going to do before either did it.
Even though, on paper, the game may not look attractive, both teams played
well, shots were difficult to come by and there were few turnovers."
"I think the players felt two ways," said Baker. "I think they felt
disappointment, but at the same time they were proud of their efforts and so
"We accomplished a number of things in this tournament. First, we put
ourselves in a position to win. Second, we demonstrated our ability to play
against the number one team in the world in a tactical game where each
possession and each situation was critical to the outcome. Finally, as the
final game progressed, our conditioning was evident; we were able to build
our intensity even through the end."
"This game and this tournament has given us confidence going into the
qualification tournament. The Australian game is a good checkpoint for us in
that we know our abilities defensively and we are showing the initial signs
of being a counter-attack team."
Team USA departs for Rome, Italy tomorrow for common training with the
Italians. The ir final game before the start of the World Olympic
Qualification Tournament will be against Italy, in Rome's Olympic Swimming
Stadium on Friday, April 14th. Following that game, the team will depart for
Palermo, Sicily where the Qualification tournament starts on April 22nd. At
stake will be the three remaining spots for the Six team field Sydney Olympic
1 2 3 4 F
USA 0 0 1 0 1
AUS 0 0 0 2 2
USA: Heather Moody 1
AUS: Naomi Castle 1, Simone Hankin 1
USA: Bernie Orwig 6 Saves
AUS: Liz Weekes 7 Saves
USA Powerplay 1 / 5
AUS Powerplay 0 / 2
Today's Games Results:
7th Place Game ESP 6 vs GRE 5
5th Place Game RUS 5 vs ITA 4
3rd Place Game HUN 11 vs CAN 8
1st Place Game AUS 2 vs USA 1
Thetis Cup Final Standings