London, England - The USA Women's National Team took second at the VISA Water Polo International after falling to Australia 6-5 in the championship match. A turnover in the final seconds halted a furious final seconds as the United States tried to find the equalizer after falling behind in the second quarter. Lauren Wenger (Long Beach, CA/USC/NYAC) scored two goals and Betsey Armstrong (Ann Arbor, MI/Michigan/NYAC) posted 14 saves in the loss.
Team USA got off to quick start with a Wenger goal from outside less than a minute into the period for a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later, Team USA went up 2-0 when Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Stanford/Olympic Club) tossed in a lob from six meters. Australia answered on the next possession when they converted a penalty foul to draw within 2-1. That was the score as played moved to the second period.
The second quarter belonged almost entirely to the Aussies. As Team USA struggled to convert power plays, Australia took advantage running off three straight goals to grab a 4-2 lead with 3:56 left in the period. The United States broke through with just :33 left as Wenger scored her second of the game, and the first power play goal for Team USA, to draw within 4-3 at intermission.
In the third Australia again started off quickly with a goal on a counter attack just two minutes into the session to take a 5-3 lead. Team USA responded with Kelly Rulon (San Diego, CA/UCLA/NYAC) hitting on a lob shot for a 5-4 game. The scoring went back and forth with Australia up next delivering on an inside score for a 6-4 lead with 2:36 left. The United States had a shot to get within a goal when Courtney Mathewson (Anaheim Hills, CA/UCLA/NYAC) drew a penalty, but the conversion was failed. Redemption was had moments later when Mathewson found the cage on a power play with just ten seconds left in the period. That brought the United States to within one at 6-5, and that would be the score going to the final period.
The fourth quarter proved to be all defense as each team held the other scoreless. In the closing moments the United States failed the convert a power play with 1:18 remaining, they went 2/9 on the day. A final shot from Wenger with :19 left was saved out of bounds giving the United States one more shot. However, they subsequently turned the ball over allowing Australia to run the clock out. The Aussies went 1/4 on power play attempts. Team USA went 0/1 on penalty shots while Australia did not attempt a penalty shot.
Hungary took third place with Great Britain coming in fourth place. Next up for Team USA will be the FINA World League Super Final in Changshu, China starting on May 29.
USA 5 (2, 1, 2, 0) L. Wenger 2, C. Mathewson 1, B. Villa 1, K. Rulon 1
AUS 6 (1, 3, 2, 0)
Saves - USA - B. Armstrong 14
6x5 - USA 2/9 - AUS 1/4
Penalties - USA 0/1 - AUS 0/0