July 23, 1999
Winnipeg, Canada - Despite a slow start, the USA women's water polo team defeated Puerto Rico 16-2 in a first round match at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada.
A late arrival in Winnipeg combined with just three weekends of team practice since May contributed to the U.S. women's water polo squad's rough start. After nine minutes of play, the score stood at 1-1. Six goals in the second period more than put a lid on any concerns USA and UCLA head coach Guy Baker may have had as Team USA eventually buried the Puerto Ricans in preliminary play.
"'I hope we get better' - that's what I was thinking," Baker said of his first-period glance at the scoreboard. "We have some new players. A new line-up. We need to sort ourselves out these first few days and get our subs down. I always think we should play at a certain level, so I was happy to see us improve in the second and third periods. We were ... a little rusty there at the start."
An exclusion foul with four minutes to play in the first gave Alisa von Hartitzsch the chance she needed to score from 2 meters out to put the United States up 1-0. Puerto Rico responded just 25 seconds into the second period with a quick shot by Maria Noriega that skipped off U.S. goalkeeper Bernie Orwig into the upper right corner of the net, tying the game at one apiece.
Team USA gave the Puerto Rican defense the jitters by scoring six unanswered second-period goals. Quick transitions keyed by laser-accurate lead passes from Orwig, Rachel Scott and Heather Moody assisted on several breakaway scoring opportunities, giving the United States a 7-1 lead after two periods.
Puerto Rico came out energized in the third, scoring its second and final goal with 5:25 remaining against a short-handed United States squad, recovering from Maureen O'Toole's expulsion foul.
With the game already out of reach, Team USA scored nine unanswered goals, including two each from UCLA standout Coralie Simmons and Courtney Johnson, giving Johnson a team-best three goals in the match. UCLA's Catharine vonSchwarz added a goal for the US squad.
The United States takes on Brazil at 9 a.m. Saturday. Brazil defeated Cuba 7-4 in Friday's early game.
Team 1 2 3 4 Total United States (blue) 1 6 5 4 16 Puerto Rico (white) 0 1 1 0 2
Goals USA: Johnson 3, von Hartitzsch 2, Simmons 2, O'Toole 2, vonSchwarz, Swail, Moody, Scott, Sheehy. PUR: Noriega, Collazo.