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Waterpolo - 16. July 2007.

U.S. Women’s Water Polo Team Beats Cuba 14-6 at 2007 Pan American Games

RIO DE JANEIRO , Brazil – The U.S. team next faces rival Canada on Monday at 4:30 p.m., followed by a July 17 match against host Brazil at 6 p.m.

Sunday’s game was dynamic from the start, with animated fans and a lively atmosphere. Cuba took control early, scoring on its first possession, just 30 seconds into the game. With a minute left in the first quarter, the U.S. was down 3-1, but goals from defender Jessica Steffens (Danville, Calif.) and defender Lauren Wenger (Long Beach, Calif.) tied it up 3-3 before the buzzer.

“Cuba came out fighting,” goalkeeper Jamie Hipp (Fresno, Calif.) said. “It took us awhile to get going; we were a little slow in the beginning. We weren’t quite on cue with each other, but as the game went on we got into the rhythm and started playing how we play best. That’s when we do well: when we play our own game.”

Attacker Patty Cardenas (Commerce, Calif.) stole the lead for the U.S. two minutes into the second quarter, and the team never looked back. They outscored Cuba 3-1 in the second quarter, 4-1 in the third and 4-1 in the fourth, amounting to a final score of 14-6.

“Cuba got off to a great start,” head coach Guy Baker said. “We haven’t been behind 3-1 since the quarterfinals of the World Championships against Spain. We weren’t taking care of the ball. I thought the second half we started to play the way we’re capable of playing and did a much better job.

Eight players scored for the U.S., led by defender Natalie Golda (Fullerton, Calif.) with four. The U.S. Team now stands 2-0 after their Saturday win over Venezuela 21-3.

Monday’s game versus Canada promises to be exciting. The U.S. and Canada met in the championship game at the 2003 Pan Am Games, with the U.S. swimming away with the gold. The U.S. finished first at the 2007 FINA World Championships, while Canada finished sixth, but Canada won the bronze medal in 2001 and 2005. At these Pan Am Games, Canada’s record also stands at 2-0 having bested Brazil 5-2 and Puerto Rico 14-5.

July 14, 20

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