USA Women Top Greece 15-12 In Thrilling Shootout To Claim Fifth Place At Worlds

USA Women Top Greece 15-12 In Thrilling Shootout To Claim Fifth Place At FINA World Championships

Betsey Armstrong made two crucial blocks in the penalty shootout to help top Greece

Betsey Armstrong made two crucial blocks in the penalty shootout to help top Greece

Aug. 2, 2013





Barcelona, Spain - August 2 - It wasn't the match they hoped to be playing in but the USA Women's National Team will leave Barcelona on a high nonetheless, outlasting Greece 15-12 in a shootout to claim fifth place at the FINA World Championships. Betsey Armstrong (Ann Arbor, MI/Michigan/NYAC) halted the first two penalty shooters for Greece and the United States connected on all of their opportunities, the last coming from Lolo Silver (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) to win it. The shootout helped erase a final five minutes of regulation that saw Greece score three straight goals, the final at the horn, to force a 10-10 draw and overtime. After Greece had taken an 11-10 lead late in the first over time, team captainCourtney Mathewson (Anaheim Hills, CA/UCLA/NYAC) came up large with a nearside goal to even things with less than a minute to play in the second overtime forcing the shootout. 

It was a tight match through the first half with Greece taking the lead 1-0 only to have Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Stanford/Diablo) connect on the next possession for the United States, evening the match at 1-1. Greece returned with a goal less than two minutes later only to seeKK Clark (Menlo Park, CA/UCLA/NYAC) answer with an outside shot and a 2-2 match. Greece hit on a power play on their next possession and Rachel Fattal (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/SOCAL) followed immediately with a score to even the game at 3-3. With 1:42 left in the opening period, Annika Dries (Laguna Beach, CA/Stanford/SET) got loose inside for a score to grab the United States' first lead of the match at 4-3. That was short lived as Greece connected from distance with :25 left in the first for a 4-4 game. 

For all the scoring in the first period, the second was relatively quiet. Kelly Rulon (San Diego, CA/UCLA/NYAC) found the cage in the opening minute to put Team USA in front 5-4. Some three minutes later Greece had an answer with an outside shot to tie the game at 5-5. With 2:46 to play Melissa Seidemann (Walnut Creek, CA/Stanford/Stanford) buried a shot from the perimeter for a 6-5 lead at the half. That would account for all the scoring. 

Greece tied the game to open the third period but Mathewson followed with a goal for a 7-6 USA lead. At the 3:48 mark Greece drew a penalty but Armstrong came up with the block, foreshadowing the events for later in the match. Mathewson, now heating up, hit on a power play to build the USA lead to 8-6. The United States continued to pour it on with Kami Craig(Santa Barbara, CA/USC/SBWPF) turning from two meters for the score and a 9-6 lead. Armstrong closed out the period halting a Greek player advantage with a save. 

The fourth largely belonged to Greece as they set about erasing their deficit. They started with a goal with 5:55 to play, drawing to within 9-7. Seidemann answered that on the next USA possession with another outside delivery and Team USA went up 10-7. Seidemann would leave the match shortly thereafter with a cut around her left eye and would not return. The rest of the way belonged to Greece as they scored two straight to close within 10-9 with two minutes to play. Then in a furious rally to close out regulation it was Alkisti Avramidou connecting on a power play goal with no time remaining to force extra time. 

That set the stage for overtime and the penalty shootout. Greece went ahead with 1:25 remaining in the first overtime only to see Mathewson tie things up in the second. In the penalty shootout, Mathewson, Rulon, Steffens, and Silver converted in order. Spain made just one shot ruling out the need for a fifth shooter on either side.

Team USA went 1/7 on power plays and did not attempt a penalty shot in regulation. Greece was 4/11 on power plays and 0/1 on penalty shots in regulation. Team USA also defeated Greece to open the tournament, winning 12-8. Team USA finishes the FINA World Championship with a 6-1 record.

Scoring - Scoresheet
USA 15 (4, 2, 3, 1) (0, 1) (4) C. Mathewson 3, M. Seidemann 2, K. Clark 1, R. Fattal 1, A. Dries 1, K. Rulon 1, K. Craig 1, M. Steffens 1
GRE 12 (4, 1, 1, 4) (1, 0) (1)
Saves - USA - B. Armstrong - 12
6x5 - USA 1/7 - GRE 4/11
Penalties - USA 0/0 - GRE 0/1
Penalty Shootout Scorers - USA - C. Mathewson, K. Rulon, M. Steffens, L. Silver 

Flash Quotes

"After the Spain match the highest place we could get was fifth and so our goal was to win our next two games and we did that today. We were up by three goals, they tied it up, they scored first in overtime. We lost our top defender. We were looking for a goal to tie it up and we knew if we went to the shootout we'd have a good chance with Betsey in the cage."Courtney Mathewson, USA Attacker

"She (Armstrong) was awesome, she came up with two big saves, one after another and I think it was very deflating for them and big motivation for us." Courtney Mathewson, USA Attacker

"Greece has very good shooters, so you just need to simplify everything. Watch the ball and react to it and it worked out for me tonight." Betsey Armstrong, USA Goalkeeper

"I'm just very proud of our team to be able to bounce back after giving up that lead. Giving up the lead and letting them go in front in overtime, it shows alot of resiliency on our part to be able to get it done. Betsey made a couple of big saves and it took a little pressure off." Adam Krikorian, USA Head Coach