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Women's Water Polo 2012: Top Performances from Team USA's Gold-Winning Match

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  Betsey Armstrong of the United States makes a save during their game against China on Day 7 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Water Polo Arena on August 3, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Tim KeeneyContributor IAugust 9, 2012

Another day, another gold medal for the United States women on the water.

Although this time around, the ladies weren't racing side by side inside thin lanes. This time, they could go anywhere in the pool, except for the bottom. This time, instead of going faster than their opponents, they were essentially trying to drown them so they could throw a ball into the back of a net.

Call it hardcore swimming. Or floorless team handball. Or, if you want to be official, call it by it's real name.

Water polo.

The intense sport has quickly gained popularity in London, and while America's men's team wasn't able to medal in the up-and-coming sport, the U.S. women grabbed the gold by knocking off Spain, 8-5. 

Let's take a look at the best individual performances from Thursday's thrilling final. 

 

Maggie Steffens

How could I possibly start with anyone else?

Steffens, 19, may be the youngest player on Team USA, but she is also the most talented. She once again proved that against Spain. 

The current Stanford Cardinal took five shots. She made them all. Not only is that, well, about as efficient as you can possibly be (100 percent is good, right?), but she scored with variety, as well.

Steffens scored on an action shot, she scored on a center shot, she scored with an extra-man advantage, she scored on a penalty shot and she scored on the counterattack. 

With those five goals, Steffens easily entrenched herself as the best scorer of the tournament. In six matches, she racked up 21 goals on 27 shots.

Just gaudy numbers. 

 

Betsey Armstrong

While scoring goals is important, it's also kind of vital that you keep the ball out of the back of your own net, too. 

29-year-old Betsey Armstrong deserves credit for doing just that. 

Spain got off just 13 shots against Armstrong, which is credit to the defense of the U.S., but she also saved eight of them, allowing just five goals. 

For some perspective, in the entire tournament, only one team scored less than five goals in a single match (Great Britain scored three against Australia), and Spain's lowest output was nine.

So, basically, Armstrong came up with the best defensive effort of the tournament during the most important match. 

 

Brenda Villa

Captain Brenda Villa didn't do much that will show up on the score sheet, although she did nab a nice long-distance goal mid-way through the third period, but she deserves praise.

The talented defender was all over Spain's goal-scorers, and was a main reason why they weren't able to get many clean looks. 

 

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