May 24, 2004
KIRISHI, RUSSIA - The United States women's water polo team defeated Russia 7-5 to win the Kirishi Cup on May 20, 2004. Natalie Golda who redshirted the 2004 season scored two goals, including a penalty shot that gave USA a 5-2 lead. Thalia Munro, who redshirted the 2003 and 2004 season scored one goal. Nicolle Payne, UCLA's career leader in saves and goals against average had eight saves for Team USA. The Kirishi Cup was Team USA's first international competition of 2004, the official Olympic roster will be announced, Wednesday, June 2.
Team USA got off to a quick start, getting a score from the outside by sharpshooter Ericka Lorenz just 20 seconds into the first quarter. Ellen Estes earned a penalty in the hole later in the quarter to set up a penalty goal by Brenda Villa. Villa scored again as time expired in the first, putting back a Kelly Rulon shot after it was knocked down by Russian goalkeeper Valentina Vorontsova.
The U.S. led 3-2 heading into the second quarter, but the offensive tempo slowed to a crawl with both teams locking down on defense. Thalia Munro's goal with 44 seconds to go before the half gave the U.S. a 4-2 lead at the break.
A penalty goal by Natalie Golda - which was set up by Estes' second drawn four-meter call - gave the U.S. a 5-2 lead. Russia chipped away in the third, outscoring the U.S. 2-1 in the frame to cut the deficit to 5-4.
The U.S. survived a barrage of ejections in the final quarter, making some good defensive stops to keep Russia at bay.
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