After multiple times coming close, the United States women's water polo team has finally broken through to win their first gold medal by defeating Spain 8-5. The hero in Thursday's gold medal game was Maggie Steffens who scored five goals against Spain, and for the tournament had a best 21 goals.
Steffens was a surprise player this tournament because it was here first Olympics, however even though she is 19-years-old she has been part of the national team for three years and had three years of experience against the best players in the world.
Steffens was at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games watching her sister lose to the Netherlands in the gold medal game, and is glad that she could help out veterans Brenda Villa and Heather Petri go out on top:
"I've looked up to Brenda and Peti, and I was at the 2008 games and I felt that passion of the loss," she said. "I wanted this for Brenda and Peti _ to be able to retire and go out with the happiness of having gold, and for the '08 girls, to fill that void, to get the gold medal."
Villa who has been on all three of the United States Olympic team was ecstatic to get that elusive gold medal:
"I am speechless. It still hasn't sunk in," U.S. captain Brenda Villa said. "I can't describe it. It's the end of a journey, and I got my fairy-tale ending."
As for the game itself the first quarter saw teams exchange goals, but it was a second quarter spurt where Team USA outscored Spain 4-1 and went on a 4-0 run to lead 5-2 at the half. The United States defense continued to be all business through third quarter as they shut out Spain and held a 7-2. Even though the power play goals were not going their way for Team USA, they went 1-for-6, their defense just shut down Spain. Goalie Betsey Armstrong had eight saves in the win.
This gold medal for Team USA was the first gold medal since the 1904 St. Louis games, but that year all entrants were from the United States, so this gold medal is the first legitimate for United States water polo.