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US women to play for water polo gold

Beijing, China (Sports Network) - Brenda Villa scored three times, including the go-ahead goal with a minute remaining, boosting the United States women's water polo team over Australia, 9-8, and into the gold medal match.

Brittany Hayes added two goals, while Natalie Golda, Alison Gregorka and Kami Craig also scored for the Americans, who beat their Olympic nemesis. Eight years ago, Australia beat the U.S. in the gold medal match, and the two teams have battled for world supremacy since.

The Americans beat Australia in the world championship and world league finals in 2007, and also topped the Aussies for the bronze medal four years ago in Athens.

Goalkeeper Elizabeth Armstrong stopped half of the 16 shots she faced, as the U.S. held on at the end.

"It comes down to our training," said USA coach Guy Baker. "We made some mistakes down the stretch, but they are taught to deal with them and they did."

Villa's tally came with the U.S. having a man-advantage thanks to a penalty.

A turnover foul by Australian Taniele Gofers gave the ball back to the U.S. with 41 seconds left, and after a pair of timeouts Australia got one last chance, but Rebecca Rippon's shot was blocked as time expired.

Kate Gynther had three goals for Australia, which rallied from an 8-5 deficit, tying the game on Gynther's goal with 2:27 remaining.

The U.S. will play the Netherlands for gold on Thursday. The Dutch edged Hungary, 8-7, in the other semifinal Tuesday.

08/19 09:18:04 ET


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