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Olympics: U.S. women win gold in London

The women's water polo team, with Laguna's Annika Dries, defeated Spain, 8-5, in the gold-medal match Thursday.

August 09, 2012|By Mike Sciacca
  • The U.S. Olympic women's water polo team shows off gold medals after beating Spain, 8-5, in London on Thursday. Laguna's Annika Dries is in the top row at the far left.
The U.S. Olympic women's water polo team shows off… (Gary Ambrose, Los…)

The will to win carried the U.S. Olympic women's water polo team to a big victory Tuesday.

And to an even bigger one Thursday .

For the first time in its history, the U.S. women have captured Olympic gold in water polo. The team accomplished the feat by dominating, then holding off, Spain, 8-5, in the tournament final Thursday at Water Polo Arena in London.

On Aug. 1, the teams had played to a 9-9 tie during preliminary round competition. Thursday's final, however, wasn't close. The U.S., which actually trailed, 2-1, scored six consecutive goals to take command. The outburst over two-plus quarters led to an 8-2 lead with just more than seven minutes left in the game.

Maggie Steffens (Danville, Calif.) led all scorers with five goals.

Also Thursday, Australia won the bronze medal by defeating Hungary, 13-11, in overtime.

Laguna Beach's Annika Dries made key contributions during Team's USA's run to gold.

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The U.S. team reserved a spot in the gold medal game after scoring a thrilling, 11-9, overtime win Tuesday over Australia.

A game that seemed to have been won in regulation play by the Americans turned out to be a fight for survival.

The Aussies forced overtime by converting a penalty shot with one second left in regulation. With Team USA holding a 9-8 lead, Coach Adam Krikorian called a timeout without Team USA holding possession of the ball. The Aussies converted the penalty shot to send the game to overtime.

"It was my fault, it was a bad decision," Krikorian said. "I thought (Team USA goalie) Betsey (Armstrong) had the ball. Everything happened so quickly, but it was a big mistake on my part and it could have cost us the game. Sometimes the coach can let you down and the players need to pick you up. Thankfully they did that today.""

Steffens and Kami Craig (Santa Barbara) scored in overtime for Team USA, whose defense held Australia scoreless in both overtime periods.

"We were determined to win, and you could feel the energy just by looking in each other's eyes," Dries said Tuesday. "Even when Australia tied it at the end, there was no stopping our team. We never backed down. We played every second of that game as if it was our last."

Dries said that with the win against Australia, Team USA had taken its Olympic run to its ultimate destination: the gold medal game.

"Our team has been dreaming of this game for a long time," she said prior to Thursday's final. "We now have the chance to go and actually play it."

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