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Publication Date: Friday, July 25, 2003

USA women play for gold in water polo USA women play for gold in water polo (July 25, 2003)

by Rick Eymer

Stanford grad Jackie Frank blocked a critical penalty shot midway through the final period as the United States women's water polo team defeated Russia, 11-7, on Wednesday in the semifinals of the FINA World Championships at Club Natacio in Barcelona.

Team USA plays for the gold medal today against defending world champion Italy, which beat Canada, 5-2. The United States is currently ranked second in the world.

Stanford grad Ellen Estes scored twice and Stanford product Brenda Villa added another goal as the United States assured itself of its highest finish of the world championships. The Americans have never finished better than third.

Italy reached the title game with a 5-2 win over Canada.

"Any time you play Italy you can expect a tough game," said Team USA's Robin Beauregard, who scored twice against Russia. "They're a super-physical team and they've played so long together they know each other really well."

Frank, who played in the goal in the second half, blocked the penalty shot with less than three minutes left to play in the contest, and Villa scored the game's final goal counterattack.

Team USA scored six goal in the third period - two by Estes - to erase a halftime deficit. Heather Moody scored a game-high three goals.

"I'm stoked to be in the final," said Team USA coach Guy Baker. "(Italy) has had great success so it will be a good test for us to see where we're at for sure."

The Americans reached the semifinals with an 8-4 victory over Australia, the 2000 Olympic gold medalists. Estes scored twice and Villa added a goal. Russia beat Hungary, 8-6.

The Russians were leading 5-4 early in the third period when Team USA scored five unanswered goals. Beauregard scored the tying goal. Following a timeout, Natalie Golda scored from the top to put the Americans up to stay. Moody added a score and Estes scored twice to finish off the rally.

Team USA held a 10-6 lead but Olga Turova scored for the Russians, and a penalty called on Moody set up Frank's heroics.

The United States earned the bronze medal three times between 1978 and 1986, and finished fourth in 2001.

At the World Cup in Australia last year, Hungary beat the USA in the final and Canada beat Russia for third place.
Men's water polo

The United States men's team had its run at a World Championship medal stopped by Greece, 4-2, on Tuesday.

Team USA finished first in their bracket after beating Australia, 13-7, over the weekend.

The Americans came back to beat Slovakia, 11-5, on Thursday and will play for fifth place, which would be their highest finish since placing fourth at the 1990 World Championships in Australia.

Stanford junior Tony Azevedo scored twice and Stanford grad Wolf Wigo added one in the win over Slovakia. Stanford grad Layne Beaubien also played for the Americans.

Team USA was 2-for-22 against Greece, with Azevedo and Ryan Bailey scoring the only goals.

"We were very strong and physically well-prepared but we had poor execution," said Team USA coach Ratko Rudic. "We will continue to train for the Pan American Games now. The games here aren't as important. We will start to focus on the Pan Ams."

The top three teams from the Pan American Games qualify for the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece.

Azevedo, Wigo and Beaubien combined for four goals in the win over Australia.


 

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