Stanford trio helps USA reach fifth-place match


Three players representing Stanford's past, present and future all scored as the USA Women's National Team advanced to the fifth-place match at the 2011 FINA World Championships following an 8-4 victory over Canada on Wednesday in Shanghai, China.

Stanford's Brenda Villa (past), Annika Dries (present) and Maggie Steffens (future) all contributed goals to help Team USA move on to Friday's final match where the Americans will face either Australia or the Netherlands. The U.S. and Netherlands tied, 7-7, to open the championships on July 17.

"I was very happy with our effort and our ability to come back," said U.S. coach Adam Krikorian, whose team lost to Russia in its previous outing. "I think that shows a lot of character and a lot of toughness and that's what this team is all about. As disappointing as it was two days ago, we know that we are going to learn from it and bounce back and it showed we had one bad quarter here.

"I don't know if anything will really kind of take the sting away from that loss. For us it's important we feel the sting, it's not something we've felt and it's not something I've felt in a long time. It makes you appreciate just how difficult it is to win games at this level. I've been saying this all along, this women's water polo tournament, the parity in women's water polo is incredible. I think we have a little bit more respect for that now."

In the win over Canada, the resilient U.S. was led by Heather Petri, who tallied two goals, and goalie Betsey Armstrong, who stopped 12 shots across four quarters.

It was a slow start for the U.S. until Villa scored at the 4:05 mark of the opening period. Canada answered less than a minute later with a skip shot goal of its own that went bar down and in for a 1-1 match. With 2:49 left in the period, Steffens (the USA's youngest player) scored a fancy shot -- gathering the ball in front of the net on a rebounded shot and tipping it from her left hand to her right and then past the goalie for a 2-1 lead.

Team USA took a 6-3 lead into the fourth quarter but kept attacking. After Steffens drew a power play, it was Dries beating the goalie from four meters for a 7-3 lead. It was 8-4 with 5:27 remaining.


American Michael Phelps won the 200 butterfly in 1:53.34 for the only U.S. gold medal on Wednesday.

In the men's 800 free, Stanford's Chad La Tourette was the top American finisher while taking sixth in 7:46.52.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA water polo

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