Jul 30, 2012; London, United Kingdom; United States center back Maggie Steffens (6) scores a goal in the first quarter against Hungary in the women's preliminary round during the 2012 London Olympic Games at Water Polo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
So, my 10-6 prediction about the United States women's team over Hungary was way off, but what a game it was. Team USA had seven goals from the 19-year-old Maggie Steffens which tied an Olympic record, and Courtney Mathewson chipped in with four. Steffens probably would have had more goals but she had three ejections in the game and was done for the game late in the third quarter, so those seven goals in three quarters is even more impressive.
Those 11 goals by Mathewson and Steffens since each were making their Olympic debut. Team USA has seven players back from the 2008 Olympic Games where the team finished with a silver medal.
Team captain Brenda Villa talked about Steffens amazing game:
"She's a stud, I mean come on, seven goals?" U.S. captain Brenda Villaaid of Steffens. "She's a youngster, but you could never tell in the water. She plays like she's been playing at this level for a long time."
As for the game itself, Steffens scored three of her seven goals to help give the United States a 4-3 lead. Team USA got off to a 3-1 lead and goalie Betsey Armstong came up big and blocked a penalty shot. Hungary was able to make it a one goal game on a counter attack goal at the 2:23 mark in the first quarter.
Team USA responded with a goal 20 seconds later by Mathewson to give make it a 4-2 game, but Hungary was not done as they were able to get a counter attack goal with eight seconds left to make it 4-3 after one.
That is how the game would go the entire way as the two teams would go back and forth. In the second, Hungary was able to score two straight goals to tie the game at five, but as the game would go the United States would score two straight goals followed by two more by Hungary to make it 7-7. Steffens would score her sixth goal of the half on a skip shot with just over a minute left, and at the half it was 8-7.
The turning point came in the third quarter when the United States built a two goal lead at 10-8 and again 11-9 in the third quarter. The 11th goal of the game came with 1:56 left in the game and was the first for team Villa scored on a counter attack.
Mathewson went on to score the final three goals for Team USA and that included two power play goals. Her first goal in the fourth quarter put the United States up 12-9, but Hungary responded with two more goals to make it 12-11. The next goal for Mathewson was her second straight power play goal to give Team USA a two-goal lead with four minutes left. To no one's surprise watching this game, Hungary was able to make it a 13-12 game on a power play goal with 2:18 left.
Mathewson's final goal of the game came less than 30 seconds later, and this time from the perimeter. Hungary had one last chance to get in the game and they were able to get the ball into their two-meter area and Hungary scored on a back hand with 52 seconds left to make it 14-13.
On the final possession the United States was going to run the clock down as low as they could, but Hungary was called for an exclusion with less than 30 seconds left in the game which allowed the United States to run out the clock.
This was a much more hard fought game then thought, but the Olympics are different beast then a set of exhibition games.
Here are some post game shots from Wolf Wigo.