July 26, 1999
WINNIPEG, Canada - Cuba caught the United States off guard with its speed and physical play, but the U.S. women's water polo team had no trouble adjusting, scoring seven second-half goals to top Cuba 10-5 in preliminary play at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada.
United States players exited the water visibly marked, scratched and bruised, and their suits torn by the hands-on play of Cuba. With a significant size and skill advantage in the two-meter play of 20-year National Team member Maureen O'Toole, plus Alisa von Hartitzsch and Heather Moody, the United States managed nine shots from the trenches, scoring three goals.
"It was a very physical game. We didn't notice that in their play when we watched them two days ago, but they really took it out on us," said Moody, who led the U.S. with five defensive steals in front of the goal. "That type of play surprised us at the start, and it took us a few minutes to adjust. We used our size advantage, experience and skill to put this one away in the end."
Cuba kept it close through the half, and Cuba's leading scorer Lisandra Frometa scored the first goal of the third period to cut the U.S. margin to 3-2. Two quick breakaways by UCLA's Coralie Simmons and von Hartitzsch gave the United States some breathing room and a 5-2 lead.
O'Toole's experience was key during the U.S. team's transition in the second half. O'Toole's patience with the ball from the post gave her several good looks at the goal, leading to six quality shots, a team-best three goals in the game, including two goals to kick off the fourth period.
"This was the type of game we were looking for from Maureen," U.S. and UCLA coach Guy Baker said. "We were slow starting, and we needed someone out there to help the team transition to a smart, physical game. Maureen helped move the ball, and scored some big goals to keep the momentum going."
Simmons, von Hartitzsch and Julie Swail earned two goals apiece as the U.S. racked up 23 shots in the game. Swail leads the team scorers with eight goals in the tourney. Simmons is second with seven and von Hartitzsch six.
The U.S. has a day off Tuesday before taking on Brazil at 11:45 Wednesday, with the winner advancing to the gold medal game. Brazil defeated the United States 8-6 on Saturday.Scoring Summary
Team 1 2 3 4 Total United States (white) 1 2 3 4 10 Cuba (blue) 0 1 2 2 5Goals USA: O'Toole 3, Simmons 2, Swail 2, von Hartitzsch 2, von Schwarz. CUB: Frometa 3, Soler, Andreu.