Aug. 1, 2009
ROME - Former UCLA head women's water polo coach Adam Krikorian helped lead the USA Women's National Water Polo Team to the gold medal at the 2009 FINA World Championships with a 7-6 victory over Canada on Friday, July 31.
The gold medal effort came in Team USA's second international competition (and first FINA World Championship) under Krikorian's tutelage.
The Canadian team filed a protest following Friday's match and was denied on Saturday morning, upholding the official result. The protest came in regard to a game misconduct called against Team USA's Elsie Windes with 27 seconds to play in the second quarter.
Former UCLA standout and Olympian Kelly Rulon scored Team USA's game-winning goal with time winding down in the fourth quarter. Rulon finished the championship match with a team-leading two goals.
UCLA was also represented on Team USA by former standouts Jaime (Hipp) Komer and Tanya Gandy. UCLA head women's water polo coach Brandon Brooks and former Bruin standout Coralie Simmons assisted Krikorian as assistant coaches.
"Obviously, I'm happy and happy for the girls," said Krikorian, who remains on the UCLA men's water polo coaching staff. "You look over the past year, a disappointing finish for them at the Olympic Games and to come back here for them and to come away with the gold is really special for them. They are a great group.
"I felt like we got better as the tournament wore on. These tournaments are long and so after the game against Russia, I think it was easy for people to lose faith and question and start to panic, but we did a nice job continuing to believe in what we are doing and the potential of this team."
The gold medal for Team USA marks the third World Championship for the United States women, a record among all nations with women's water polo.
Aside from the protest, the match was dominated by defense with goals coming at a premium. Canada opened the scoring with one goal at the 5:13 mark after a five-meter penalty shot was called against Team USA. After Canada converted the 6-on-5 advantage to assume a 1-0 lead, the United States tied the game with a 6-on-5 goal from Heather Petri. Canada added its second goal to secure a 2-1 lead before the end of the first quarter.
Team USA's Lauren Wenger connected for a goal from distance to tie the contest, 2-2, with 25 seconds to play in the period. Brenda Villa followed for the United States with a goal one minute later, handing Team USA its first lead of the match. Canada registered consecutive goals to lead by a 4-3 margin with 4:19 to play in the first half.
Team USA's Kami Craig powered her way toward the net, tying the game at 4-4. Craig's goal was followed by a goal from Windes, handing the United States a 5-4 lead - Windes' goal was followed by the game misconduct, ruled as Windes came up in celebration but inadvertently made contact with her defender.
The U.S. maintained a one-goal advantage headed into the third quarter. Both teams held each other scoreless until the 2:57 mark of the third quarter, when Canada scored on a player advantage to tie the game, 5-5.
Deadlocked at 5-5 heading into the fourth quarter, Rulon took advantage of a 6-on-5 opportunity to hand the United States a 6-5 lead. Canada followed by drawing a five-meter penalty and converted the shot with 3:58 to play, tying the game at 6-6.
Rulon converted on a five-meter penalty shot at the 3:43 mark to hand Team USA a 7-6 lead.
Team USA's Betsey Armstrong finished with 11 saves in the cage.