By Eric Tiettmeyer
FUKUOKAm Japan. July 26. ITALY topped the USA Women's National Water Polo Team 8-6 in the semi-final round of the World Championships. In other semi-
final action, European Champion Hungary defeated Canada, 4-3, so Team USA will play arch-rival Canada tomorrow for the bronze medal.
The two teams, who had tied in the first round, battled goal for goal the entire game. After taking an early 2-1 lead, the Italians turned the tide and had the Americans, who displayed a relentless counter attack, playing catch up.
Team USA tied the game on four different occasions but couldn't find an answer to Maddalena Musumeli's winning goal, which came with just a little more than two minutes remaining. Italy scored a penalty shot in the final seconds for the two goal margin.
For the USA, Bernice Orwig (Anaheim,CA) had 7 saves in the cage and also blocked a key, penalty shot in the first period. Ericka Lorenz (San Diego,CA), Amber Stachowski (Santa Margarita, CA) and Coralie Simmons
(Hemet,CA) each had 2 goals in the game.
"I am very happy with the way the team played," said Head Coach Guy Baker. "I think we did everything necessary to win the game. We went 4 for 6 in power plays and kept them at 1 for 5 in their power play opportunities. However, the game didn't go our way, and the Italians ended up with a victory."
Team USA plays Canada tomorrow at 3 p.m. for the bronze medal, while Hungary and Italy will play for the gold, in a rematch of the European Championship
"Our first objective was to reach the medal round, which we did, and our 2nd objective is to win a medal. We were hoping for gold but now it is bronze.
It is going to be a challenge coming back after today's tough lost and play a very good team, who is also an arch-rival," added Baker.
Hungary topped Canada today, 4-3. Brazil crushed New Zealand 11-2, the Netherlands beat Japan 6-4, Australia squashed Greece 9-2, and Russia conquered Kazakhstan 8-6.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th F
USA 1 2 2 1 6
ITA 0 4 2 2 8
The USA: (E. Lorenz 2, Amber Stachowski 2, C. Simmons 2)
ITA: (M. Miceli 3, G. Malato 2, T. Di Mario 1, M. Musumeli 1, M. Grego 1)
ITA 1/5 1 for 2 on Penalty Shots
The USA (B.Orwig 7) (including a blocked penalty shot)
ITA (F.Conti 11)
ITA 1/5 1 for 2 on Penalty Shots
Play by play:
Orwig blocked a key penalty shot and Amber Stachowski scored a power play goal to put the American women on top 1-0 in the first quarter.
Both teams showed tremendous defense and hard driving counter attacks in the second quarter. Italy scored on a natural goal, quickly countered by a power play goal by Team USA standout Lorenz. Italy scored two goals their next two possessions to take a brief lead, before Simmons returned the favor on a natural goal to tie the game at three. Italy scored again 12 seconds
later to take a 4-3 lead.
Stachowski scored her second, power play goal 14 seconds into the third quarter from an ejection Team USA earned in the final 8 seconds of the first half. Italy scored a natural goal on the following possession to pull ahead 5-4. Team USA earned two power play advantages in the final three minutes of
the quarter and scored on one to tie the game at 5-5. Martina Micele broke the tie with a natural goal at 2:04, and Italy went ahead, 6-5.
Simmons tied the game once again in the final period on a natural goal. Italy scored 2:05 later to go ahead 7-6. Team USA earned a key power play advantage on their next possession but were stopped. Italy earned a penalty shot in the final 9 seconds, scored, and held on to an 8-6 win.