The United States women's national water polo team turned defensive and it resulted in a 10-5 victory over Hungary in the quarterfinals of the FINA World Cup on Friday.
Stanford grad Lolo Silver was one of four Americans to score a pair of goals as the U.S. reached the semifinals in Christchurch, New Zealand, meeting China on Saturday.
"That's probably our best defensive effort of the summer," U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said. "I'm really proud of the team, I think we have been very good defensively since we've gotten here and it's going to be important for us to continue that to keep the momentum going in our favor."
Cardinal sophomore Annika Dries said, after Thursday's win over the host Kiwis, that the team had gained more confidence in their defense. She and Olympian Kami Craig were at the center of it.
"I think any one of our players I have a lot of confidence in, any one of our players can beat you on any given day," Krikorian said. "It helps that the centers draw a lot of attention and Kami and Annika did a great job drawing a lot of attention so it's going to free up our shooters on the outside and they have to be confident when they get their opportunity."
U.S. goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong recorded 11 saves, including several critical saves during the second period.
"I thought that things could have easily swung in their favor but those saves certainly kept the momentum on our side," Krikorian said.
The match was tied at 4-all early in the third period when the Americans, 4-of-11 on power plays, scored a flurry of four unanswered goals to take control of the contest.
"We missed some opportunities early on where we could have broken the lead a little bit further but we stayed very disciplined and very persistent and that's probably one of the things I'm most proud of," Krikorian said.
Silver scored both of her goals in the final period, securing a spot in the semifinals against the Chinese.
China beat the U.S. two of three matches in a friendly series in late June. The lone win of the series came at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center on June 25.
Stanford grad Tobias Oriwol finished eighth in the 200 back at the Pan Pacific Championships in Irvine on Friday.
Oriwol, who competes for Canada, recorded a time of 2:00.79.
Cardinal sophomore Matt Swanston finished fourth in the consolation final, 12th overall, swam a 2:01.45.
The U.S. men's junior national team advanced to the gold medal match of the NORCECA Men's Junior (under-21) Continental Championship, beating Puerto Rico, 25-15, 25-23, 25-16, in Friday's semifinal at the Centre-Sportif de Gatineau in Quebec.
The U.S., with Stanford incoming freshman Brian Cook serving as a reserve, also clinched a spot at the 2011 FIVB Men's Junior World Championships in Brazil.
The United States (4-0) will play either Canada (3-0) or Cuba (3-0) in Saturday's gold medal match