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Silver Medal for USA Women's Olympic Water Polo Team
Beijing, China - August 21 - The U.S. Olympic Team for Women's Water Polo rallied from a four goal deficit early on but were unable to gain the upper hand as they fell to the Netherlands 9-8 in the Gold Medal game at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Team USA still comes away with a Silver Medal, their second in the last three Olympics and becomes the only nation to medal in all three Olympics featuring women's water polo.
It was tough from the start for the United States as they quickly got down 4-0 in the first quarter behind an amazing game from Danielle De Bruijn. De Bruijn who would go on to finish with seven goals in the game helped the Dutch jump out to the early lead. However the United States began to chip away thanks in large part to Jessica Steffens (Danville, CA) who scored consecutive goals towards the end of the first period to cut the deficit in half.
The Netherlands led 4-2 at the end of the first quarter but Team USA was in the midst of a rally as they clawed their way back in the second stanza. Despite an initial goal from the Dutch to start the period the United States would roll off three straight goals the first coming from Natalie Golda (Fullerton, CA) on a player advantage to draw within 5-3. After that at the 3:51 mark Kami Craig (Santa Barbara, CA) got loose in inside on a nice entry pass from Brittany Hayes (Santa Ana, CA) and the USA cashed in on another player advantage to draw within one at 5-4. About a minute later they would tie the game as again Hayes delivered a sweet pass this time to Alison Gregorka (Ann Arbor, MI) who had her shot trickle past the goaltender for a tie score at 5-5.
That was the score at halftime and in the third quarter the Netherlands came out strong with two straight goals to rebuild their lead to 7-5. Team USA would answer as team captain Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA) painted the corner on the left side to find the cage and close within one at 7-6. There would be no more scoring the remaining four minutes of the period as the defenses locked down highlighted by some stellar saves from USA goalie Betsey Armstrong (Ann Arbor, MI).
In the last quarter the United States would tie the game again this time as Hayes found the net with a lob shot to light the proverbial lamp and it was knotted at 7-7. From there De Bruijn scored again but that was answered by Moriah van Norman (San Diego, CA) who cleared some room down low and delivered a score at point blank range. The game remained tied at 8-8 until 26 seconds left when De Bruijn scored her final goal of the game on a player advantage to give the Dutch the lead at 9-8. The United States had a few cracks at the net but last second shots were unable to find their mark and they came away on the losing end.
Despite the loss it still marks three medals for Villa as well as veteran Heather Petri (Orinda, CA) and two medals for Golda. In addition ten first time Olympians were presented their first ever medals. Following the match USA Head Coach Guy Baker was presented the order of the ethos a medal given to coaches that preside over medal winning clubs.