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USA Water Polo: What To Expect From United States Women's Team

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The United States women water polo team is looking for their first Olympic gold medal. They have come close by winning silver in 2000 and 2008, with a bronze medal performance in 2004.

In 2008 United States lost to the Netherlands when they blocked a Team USA shot in the final seconds during the 2008 games in Beijing to earn the silver medal, and then a buzzer-beater loss at the hands of Australia in the 2000 games in Sydney netted another silver medal. Jessica Steffens is using the Olympic failures as motivation:

"It's definitely not something you can just forget," said two-time Olympian defender Jessica Steffens. "You want to put it behind you but it doesn't just go away. We have definitely used that as fuel. Even the girls who are first-timers, they know."

After the 2008 games Team USA has been dominate by winning nearly every FINA major championship from 2009-12 -- including the 2012 FINA World League over Australia -- and is expected to win the Gold in London.

The last competition that Team USA took part in was a four-game series against Hungary, and Team USA dominated that series and won all four of those games. The biggest challenge for the United States will be Australia and Spain. However, things do not get interesting in group play since no teams are eliminated after pool play. Pool play is used for seeding purposes in the knockout stages.

The 2012 team has eight players who have played in at least one prior Olympics with Brenda Villa and Heather Petri both having played in three prior Olympics. Team USA also has the best goal keeper in the world in former Michigan Wolverine Betsey Armstrong. Plus, their power play opportunities

These past few years have been so dominated by the United States it would be foolish to even to predict them to not win the gold medal, but Sports Illustrated's Brian Cazeneuve predicts Australia to win gold and the United States to win the silver medal. It is a bold choice and really could happen but the odds favor the United States winning.

Their pool play consists of Hungary, Spain and China; out of that group Spain and to a lesser extent China are a threat. Placing in the top two in pool play marks the easiest path to get to the gold medal game.

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