Palermo, Sicily (April 30) Russia's Elena Tokoun scored on a power play goal with a minute to play to power Russia to a 6-5 win over the USA in the final
game of the World Women's Olympic Qualification Tournament. The game had no effect on qualification for Sydney as the issue was settled in the semi-finals yesterday when both teams earned spots in the Olympic Games.
Russia jumped out to a 2-0 in the first quarter on goals by Tokoun and Kouzina. Julie Swail (Placentia, CA) scored at the 6:08 mark to bring the USA within one at the end of the first period. Coralie Simmons (Hemet, CA) scored a penalty shot to tie the game midway through the second period, but just before half-time, Koutouzova scored to
give the Russian a 3-2 edge. Robin Beaureguard (Huntington Beach, CA) brought the USA even in the first minute of the third period, but Tokoun's second goal of the game gave the Russians a single goal advantage which was erased with :30 seconds left in
the period when Ericka Lorenz (San Diego, CA) scored.
Just fifteen seconds into the final frame, Koutouzova scored her second goal to give the Russians a 5-4 lead and with 1:30 left to play, Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA), last night's hero, threw in a power play goal to tie the game. But as they did in their game against the Italians, Russia won in the final minute of play.
"Give Russia credit," said US Coach Guy Baker, "but we had a poor game. We had no energy. We still struggle with consistency. We don't always come to play. In the Olympics there will be similar situations where we have to come back and play after an emotional win. We didn't do that tonight. We will
have to in Sydney."
"I'm so proud we qualified," continued Baker, "but this game showed we still have a lot of work to do. It was a learning experience. It's not the
losing, it's the effort and that wasn't there today."
– more -
1 2 3 4 F
USA 1 1 2 1 5
RUS 2 1 1 2 6
USA: Villa, Swail, Simmons, Lorenz, Beaureguard
RUS: Tokoun 3, Koutouzova 2, Kouzina
Powerplay: USA 1/5, RUS 4/9
Saves: Orwig 10, RUS Rytova 5
Shots: USA 13, RUS 25
7th place: Japan 4, Brazil 2
5th place: Greece 10, Kazakhstan 8
3rd place: Hungary 9, Italy 4
Notes and Quotes:
Their motto is "TEAM." It is written on the back of their t-shirts. It is their cheer. It was how this team played. In the game that determined it all, six different players scored the six goals. Now TEAM USA is going to Sydney.
"It has been eleven months since our disappointment at the FINA World Cup in Winnipeg," said Coach Baker, noting that the USA had the opportunity to avoid
the World qualification tournament by beating Canada in a head to head match-up. "We took that defeat and just worked harder. I couldn't be prouder of this group of women."
Reflecting on yesterday's game Baker said: In the 2nd half the whole nature of the game changed. You couldn't even get an ordinary foul. The team dug deep. They were awesome."
"I'm so happy," said Maureen O'Toole. "So happy for our country to be in the Olympics. We had a responsibility to get us there and we did it."
"This was no surprise to our team," said team captain Julie Swail. "We earned it. For two years we have worked for this moment. I believe we can beat any team in the world right now. This was just the first goal, it isn't the end. That will come in Sydney."
A press conference with the coaches and team is scheduled for May 9th in southern California. The time and location is to be announced at a later date.
USA Tournament Scoring (7 games)
Coralie Simmons 12, Brenda Villa 10, Robin Beaureguard 7, Ericka Lorenz 6, Heather Moody 5, Maureen O'Toole 5, Gubba Sheehey 4, Julie Swail 4, Courtney Johnson 4, Ellen Estes 3, Heather Petrie 1