Women’s Water Polo
On a fast break early in the third period of Team USA’s match against Spain on Wednesday, Laguna Beach’s Annika Dries took a pass from Brenda Villa and quickly fired the ball past the Spanish goalkeeper. It was the Laguna Beach High alum’s first Olympic goal and it knotted the game at five.
With 1:30 to go in the final period, a lob shot by Elsie Windes that would have put Team USA up by a goal glanced off the right post, and they had to settle for a 9-9 tie. The two teams are now tied atop the Group A standings with one game to play before the quarterfinal round.
If Spain beats Hungary on Friday, and the Americans beat China, a tiebreaker will be applied based on margin of victory and opponent ranking in Spain and Team USA’s other games. Spain currently holds an advantage over Team USA by virtue of its earlier five-goal victory over No.2-ranked China.
Unless the Americans can rout China by more than five goals, a Spain victory will earn them a top seed in quarterfinals.
The Americans struggled to find the back of the net for most of the contest with Spain, as several shots either hit the crossbar or sailed high. They were down 3-1 after one period and 5-3 at halftime.
A backhanded goal by center Kami Craig off a pass from Villa preceded Dries’ game-tier early in the third. A four-goal barrage, two by Craig, one by Villa and one by Courtney Mathewson, and a series of stellar saves by goalkeeper Betsy Armstrong put Team USA up 9-6 with five minutes to play in the final period.
Spain then proceeded to score three straight, one on a penalty shot and two on power plays, to even things up before Windes’ lob missed its mark and time ran out.