Brenda Villa leads U.S. into women’s water polo final


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BEIJING -- Brenda Villa of Commerce, Calif., and her U.S. water polo teammates will play for the gold medal after defeating Australia, 9-8, on Tuesday in Beijing.

In a rematch of the bronze-medal game in Athens four years ago, Villa scored three goals and had two assists to lead the Americans, who built an 8-5 lead after three quarters. Brittany Hayes of Santa Ana, Calif., added two goals and two assists in the victory. U.S. goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong had six saves.


Australia, which tied the score, 4-4, at halftime but was outscored 4-1 in the third quarter, was led by Kate Gynther with three goals and three assists and Rebecca Rippon with two goals.

The U.S. women will play the Netherlands, an 8-7 winner against Hungary in the other semifinal, at 3:20 a.m. PDT on Thursday for the gold medal. The U.S. is seeking its first gold medal in women’s water polo after taking silver in 2000 when Australia won the title.

-- Dan Loumena