Olympic Water Polo 2012: US Women Overcome Timeout Gaffe, Get Golden Opportunity
The United States women's water polo team almost missed the gold medal match because of a timeout controversy.
In an article by Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports:
The referees ruled that the U.S. coach had called a timeout without the U.S. possessing the ball -- despite replays showing that an Australian player had touched it last before going out-of-bounds -- which, unbelievably, resulted in a penalty shot for the Australians.
Australia then tied the match, forced overtime and put Team USA seemingly on its heels. Well, this was not the case as the Americans used that for motivation and dominated in extra time.
By outscoring the Australians 2-0 and winning 11-9, the U.S. is now playing in their third gold medal match since women's water polo was first introduced to the Summer Games 12 years ago.
Obviously playing for gold secures a medal in 2012 and the Americans remain the only country in women's water polo to have won a medal each Olympics. Unfortunately, the U.S. has yet to win gold as they took silver in 2000 and 2008 while winning bronze in 2004.
Here, we look at how Team USA can overcome their past and win that coveted gold medal on their third try. After all, the third time is supposed to be a charm, right?
Keep Pushing the Pace
It got the U.S. that ever-so important win over Hungary 14-13 to start off the Summer Games. They out-shot the Hungarians 32-28 despite having the same number of possessions and it paid off.
The USA found itself up 12-9 and 14-12 on two different occasions in the final quarter and never gave Hungary the lead either. Four times did the Hungarians tie the contest but it can be demoralizing for anyone when the lead is never possessed.
Against Spain the U.S. was winning 9-6 with less than five minutes to play but gave up three scores and the match finished as a tie. Had the Americans kept the pressure on during the waning minutes, like against Hungary, this doesn't end in a tie.
Fortunately, this was fixed against Australia in overtime and the strong offense must remain in the gold medal match.
Don't Forget About Defense
The 7-6 win over China and 9-6 quarterfinal victory over Italy really displayed how tough the U.S. can play defense.
China led for most of the game but by no more than 3-1. The USA then went on a 6-0 run to lead 7-5 and never looked back. The pace was pushed toward the end, however, the defense really locked down China's potential offense.
In the quarterfinals Italy quickly went up 2-0. But then America's defense stepped up and the U.S. outscored the Italians 9-4 the rest of the way. Team USA's defense has so much potential dominance that it's easy to get overlooked by the offense.
That said, a suffocating performance in the final will allow the offense to control the pace.
Do the US women take water polo gold in London?
Use of Experience and Motivation
The U.S. women will face Spain for gold.
In short, the mental preparation is more evident than ever before. Spain was in their group so they present a tough challenge simply by having played the Americans from early on. Therefore, the U.S. must utilize their medal match experience at this stage of the competition.
Spain didn't even compete in the Olympics in 2004 or 2008, so they will feel the magnitude of a gold medal match. On the contrary, the U.S. knows that feeling all too well.
And although Team USA is quite familiar with Spain whom they tied, it's now just a matter of going out and getting it done.
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