2012 London Olympics: USA To Take On Italy In Quarterfinals

Aug 1, 2012; London, United Kingdom; USA centre back (6) Maggie Steffens and goal keeper (1) Betsey Armstrong defend the goal against Spain during a preliminary round of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Water Polo Arena. The match ended in a tie. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The United States women's water polo team is now in the knockout stages of the Olympic tournament and after finishing second place in Group A they get to face Italy who finished third in Group B. The Italians have not fared well in London, but ti does not mean that they are going to be an easy out.

Italy is the defending European champions, but in the prelims they lost to Gold medal favorite Australia 10-8 and Russia 7-5; their only win was a 10-5 win over Great Britain. The United States have played a tad below their expectations as they went 2-0-1 in group play with a close 7-6 win over China, a 9-9 draw to Spain and a 14-13 win over Hungary.

Now the stakes are raised and a loss will send the co-gold medal favorites home if they slip up or have a bad game.

Team USA head coach Adam Kirkorian feels his team plays better with their backs up against the walls:

"The nice thing about playing the quarterfinal now is you know that it's do or die, and you know you don't have tomorrow," Krikorian said. "So this team typically plays a little better when they're faced with a little pressure, a little adversity, and I'm excited to see what we can do in two days."

At this level of play teams should not be looking past opponents, but Team USA had played Italy this year and won both matches by a combined score of 32-12. However, if the United States plays flat they could lose this game.

One thing the United States needs to do this game that they struggled against China is not to settle for long range shots, but rather get some more movement in their offense and take shots six meters or closer. If they settle for shots out from seven or eight meters any goalie should be able to block those type of shots.

Game Time: 2 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, live across all time zones

Streaming: NBCOlympics.com

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