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Steffens powers US to water polo gold
09:02 AEST Fri Aug 10 2012

Maggie Steffens deflected the praise after scoring five goals to power the US to their first Olympic water polo gold with an 8-5 win over Spain.

After claiming silver in 2008 in Beijing, bronze in 2004 and silver in the first women's water polo competition at Sydney 2000, the US finally clinched the only medal to elude them.

And they had their 19-year-old star to thank as she terrorised the Spanish goal, but she refused to take all the credit.

"Definitely it was from my teammates," Steffens said.

"When you're getting up there it's about the pass, it's about the steal and our defensive blocks were really creating the offensive end for us.

"And you could tell towards the second half the attacking side slowed down, but the defence really started to pick up, so I think that was really important."

A flurry of seven unanswered goals across the second, third and fourth periods propelled the USA from 2-1 down into a commanding 8-2 up, in the final quarter.

Devastating shooting and resilient defensive work by the Americans kept their scoreboard ticking over, while denying their opponents vital chances.

A stunning performance from goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong kept the Spaniards from scoring the goals that, until the final, gave them an unbeaten record.

Asked about the team's accomplishment, Steffens said:

"It's the best feeling ever. We've prepared a lot for this.

"We struggled with Spain this year. They're a newer team.

"We lost to them in March and we tied to them in this tournament (during the group stage) and we really prepared, but knowing ultimately what we needed to do is to focus on our defence and on our stops, and that would break them down."

Australia won the women's water polo bronze medal by downing Hungary 13-11 in extra-time of the medal play-off match.

The Australians triumphed after Hungary sensationally tied the scores at 11-11 in the last second of regulation play.

The result mirrored the Beijing Games four years ago when Australia also beat Hungary in the bronze medal match.

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