July 15, 2003
Barcelona, SPAIN - The U.S. women's water polo team defeated Greece in its first game of the 2003 FINA World Championships, 10-7, at Club Natacio Barcelona in Spain today (July 13). The U.S. defeated Greece, who may be the most talented opponent in the group, thanks in large part to a 5-0 run late in the game.
Greece got on the board first when Stavroula Kozomboli netted a backhand early in the quarter. Robin Beauregard (Huntington Beach, CA/UCLA) went high right off of the hand of Grecian goalkeeper Georgia Ellinaki at the 4:04 mark and Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Stanford/Commerce Water Polo) gave the U.S. its first lead of the game later in the quarter, scoring on a counterattack skip shot from five meters out. Thalia Munro (Santa Barbara, CA) found UCLA teammate Amber Stachowski (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) for an easy goal on the next trip down tank to give the U.S. a 3-1 lead with 1:49 left in the quarter. However, Greece managed to cut the lead to one when Evangelina Moriatidou scooted a far-side skip shot past Payne with 46 seconds left. A put-back by Kiriaki Loisi tied the game at 3-3 with eight seconds left in the quarter.
Villa drilled her second goal of the game from seven meters out on the first U.S. possession of the second quarter but Greece's Moriatidou answered with a long goal of her own to knot the score at 4-4. Ericka Lorenz (San Diego, CA/Cal Berkeley) broke the impasse at the 4:33 marker, connecting on a player-advantage goal from three meters out on the left side. Ekaterini Oikonomopolou tied the game for Greece when she hit on a 6-on-5 with 2:37 to go, but the U.S. center Ellen Estes (Novato, CA/Stanford) came back with an exclamation point to reclaim the U.S. lead at 6-5 heading into the break.
Beauregard made it a 7-5 U.S. lead when she scored a goal from beyond eight meters to start the third quarter. Lorenz went skip shot bar-in with 4:16 to play in the quarter and Beauregard's third goal of the day at the 3:09 point made it a 4-0 U.S. run and a 9-5 game. Natalie Golda (La Habra, CA/UCLA) stretched the USA lead to five goals, shooting around her defender and finding the low right corner with 1:35 left in the third.
Greece scored the first goal of the fourth quarter on a player-up goal by Antigoni Roumpesi with 4:12 to go. Greece pressed the U.S. for the last half of the quarter, but could not make up the deficit.
Beauregard and Moriatidou scored three goals apiece. Payne had a game-high nine saves in goal for the U.S., who shot 53% on the day (10-for-19).
"I think it was a good start and a good first game for us," said U.S. head coach Guy Baker. "It was our first time playing in this venue, so we had to get used to some things like the sound system that caused some early problems with our communication on defense. But I thought we came out and had some good runs and counterattacks."
If there was one area where Baker wanted to see some better numbers it was on 5-on-6 defense.
"I don't think we played very well 5-on-6," he said. "They were 3-for-5 so we can do better there. So we'll work on a few things and come back strong on Tuesday."
The U.S. women will be back in action on Tuesday (July 15) in a 4:00 p.m. game against France (0-1).