Women's Water Polo: Late Goal Propels Team USA into Finals

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Women's Water Polo: Late Goal Propels Team USA into Finals

With one minute left in the match against archrivals Australia, U.S. women's water polo captain Brenda Villa scored to put her team ahead by one and a step closer to the gold medal game.

The teams had started the second half tied at four before the U.S. women scored three unanswered goals. Then Australia's Bronwen Knox scored on a power play before Brittney Hayes scored on a U.S. power play to end the third period with the U.S. up 8-5.

In the fourth period, Australia started to gain momentum. Gemma Beadworth scored to put her team within two. The U.S. was awarded a five-meter penalty shot, but Aussie goalie Alicia McCormack, who saved 15 out of 24 in the match, blocked Natalie Golda's shot.

McCormack passed the ball to her team as they countered up the pool. Kate Gynthere received the pass on the top of the perimeter and shot and scored before Golda could recover back to play defense.

Only up by one and in the latter part of the fourth quarter, U.S. fans tried to rally the women by chanting, "U.S.A! U.S.A." Despite the crowd's enthusiasm for the U.S., the Australians continued to play solid defense.

With 2:27 left, Australia was awarded a power play and Kate Gynthere scored her third goal. Tied at 8-8 with under a 1:30 left in the match, the U.S. was awarded a power play. Up six women to five, captain Brenda Villa scored her third goal to give the U.S. a one-goal lead with a minute left. 

The Aussies had their final possession with 12 seconds left, but their last second shot was deflected and landed softly into the hands of U.S. goalie Betsy Armstrong as time expired.

The U.S. women, who are the current world champions, will face the Netherlands in the gold medal match on Thursday.

The Australian side, defending gold medal champions from Athens, will face Hungary to compete for the bronze medal.

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