Stanford's Steffens helps Team USA earn Olympic berth


Stanford freshman Maggie Steffens came up with the biggest goal of her young life on Friday to help the USA Water Polo Women's National Team earn a trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Steffens made the final penalty shot, coupled with a Canada miss, to lift Team USA to an epic 27-26 victory in the gold-medal match at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Steffens' shot brought an end to a shootout that saw each team have 20 attempts. The U.S. and Canada were knotted at 8-8 after regulation. That was followed by the two standard overtime periods that saw neither team find the cage.

The shootout followed and, after each team was successful on five attempts, it was on to sudden death. Fifteen attempts later for each side, the USA emerged victorious while claiming its third straight Pan American Games championship.

Team USA rallied from a four-goal deficit in the second half as Canada was leading 7-3 with 3:43 to go in the third quarter. The United States turned to Courtney Mathewson, who scored three of the next four goals -- including the game-tying score with 4:39 remaining.

Canada then went ahead on a power-play goal but the U.S. had one more answer when Kami Craig scored on a power play with just 31 seconds left. The match seemed headed to overtime but Canada drew a 5-meter penalty with :11 left in the quarter, only to have its shot blocked by Betsey Armstrong, one of her 13 saves on the evening.

The shootout began with the first five shooters converting. In the extra session, a format allowing each team to shoot, the first shooter for each team scored. Mathewson was up next for the United States and had her shot blocked, with the game in the balance Armstrong delivered again, blocking the Canadian shot. The two teams then connected on their next 12 opportunities, the United States hit on the 13th thanks to Steffens, Canada's shot barred out and the celebration was on for Team USA.


Stanford grad Cassidy Krug won a silver medal in the women's three-meter springboard on the next-to-last day of the Pan American Games on Friday night in Guadalajara, Mexico.

In a tight three-way battle, Krug finished in between Mexico's Laura Sanchez (374.60) and Paola Espinosa (356.20) with 372.65 points.

On Krug's final dive, a forward 2 ½ somersault twist, she hit 8.0's and two 8.5's, but was edged by 1.95 points. Sanchez' final dive was 8.5's or better.

On her fourth dive, with 8.0's and 8.5's on a reverse 2 ½ somersault Krug moved into first place, four points in front of Sanchez. She had trailed the leader, Espinosa, by .05 points after the third dive.

She moved into second place at the halfway point, scoring 8.5's on a back 2 ½ somersault after briefly dropping to third place. Krug opened up her evening session with five 9.0's on her first dive after scoring the top score in the preliminary rounds (345.60).

Krug closes out the divers at the Pan Am Games on Saturday when she dives with partner Kassidy Cook in the three-meter synchro.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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