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U.S. women's water polo team finishes sweep

Anae ends game in goal as American women win final exhibition game before London.

July 08, 2012|By Matt Szabo

"I don't think it gives us a whole lot of momentum, to be honest," Krikorian said. "We talked at the beginning of the week [about] how these four games weren't going to make or break us. The most important thing about these four games is just learning from every game that we play, and from the series as a whole. The first game [of the Olympics] is still three weeks away. It's not like we're playing tomorrow ... I'd be very surprised if the game in London on July 30 isn't a one- or two-goal game. I think [the Hungarians] are better than how they played here."

Krikorian undoubtedly did see some positives from Team USA, which led 4-3 at halftime before breaking the game open in the third quarter. Defensively, the Americans were stout, allowing just one goal in the second half. Starting goalie Betsey Armstrong made seven saves.

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"If they're going to beat us, they've got to have to beat us on something pretty amazing, something special," Krikorian said. "We did that today — we played solid defensively. We did a great job of communicating on our defense, and that's a big key for us."

The United States converted all four of its power-play opportunities in that third quarter. First it was Maggie Steffens from the left side, then Kami Craig from center. Elsie Windes fired one in from the left as the six-on-five was ending, then Rulon did the same. Add in a long lob shot from Rulon from about nine meters, and suddenly Team USA was up, 9-4, after three quarters.

For the game, the United States converted five of 10 power-play opportunities. Hungary converted just one of five.

"It seems to always come down to six-on-five," said Rulon, who led Team USA with three goals. "It's interesting, because I never really thought about it until playing internationally. If you win your six-on-five, you usually win the game. It was definitely better today. We were much more patient and composed. I think it was our patience that helped us a lot, and our shooting. We were able to finish, as opposed to [Thursday's 7-6 win over Hungary in] San Diego, where we had a hard time finishing."

Team captain Brenda Villa had two goals and two steals for the United States, and Lauren Wenger also scored. The U.S. was strong at two meters, where Craig drew at least three Hungary exclusions and Laguna Beach High product Annika Dries drew two.

Rita Kesztehlyi led Hungary with two goals. Flóra Bolonyai made six saves.

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