Aug. 9, 2012
LONDON - Three more Golden Bears took home a gold medal during Thursday's action at the 2012 Olympic Games in London as former Cal All-American forward Alex Morgan led the United States women's soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Japan in the championship match and former Golden Bear women's water polo standouts Heather Petri and Elsie Windes guided the U.S. to gold with an 8-5 victory over Spain in the title match.
Petri, the oldest member of the USA women's water polo team and a veteran of four Olympic Games, finally got her gold medal as the former Golden Bear scored a goal in the Americans' 8-5 victory over Spain.
Morgan, who is competing in her first Olympics, assisted the American's first goal in their victory over Japan.
With Thursday's performances, Cal increased its overall medal count to 16 and gold medal count to 11 so far in the 2012 Olympics. The overall medal count is tied for the second-most in one Olympics for the Golden Bears, matching the 16 medals they earned in Athens in 2004. Cal's gold medal count in London in 2012 ranks second-most all-time, just one shy of the 12 gold medals the Golden Bears earned in London's 1948 Olympic Games.
Former Cal track & field star Alysia Montano also competed on Thursday, qualifying for Saturday's final of the women's 800 meters.
The Americans jumped to a 2-0 lead in Thursday's final at Wembley Stadium, and the Japanese could only half the deficit with a goal in the 63rd minute.
In the eighth minute, Morgan received the ball from Tobin Heath, then one-touched the ball before sending it over the keeper to find Carli Lloyd, who headed it in for the first score.
Lloyd gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead in the 54th minute, scoring after a 25-yard run. The Japanese got on the board with a goal in the 63rd minute, when Yuki Ogimi scored.
The USA has won gold in four out of the five Olympic women's soccer tournaments that have been contested previously while also taking a silver medal in 2000.
Thursday's game was a rematch of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup Final, which saw the Japanese emerge victoriously on penalty kicks. The Americans advanced to the final game after defeating Canada in overtime. The Japanese defeated France 2-1 in the other semifinal. The Canadians took bronze after beating France 1-0 on Thursday.
An incredible 80,203 fans watched the game at Wembley Stadium, setting an Olympic record for a women's soccer game. The 90,185 that watched the U.S. women win the historic 1999 World Cup at the Rose Bowl is the world record.
Women's Water Polo
Petri, 34, was a spark for Team USA in the second period. The Orinda native started the quarter off by winning the sprint and then with 6:22 left in the first half and the Americans trailing, 2-1, she scored on a long shot to even the score, 2-2. The United States never trailed after Petri's goal.
"What a great accomplishment for both of these young women," said Cal women's water polo coach Richard Corso, who coached Elsie Windes in college and was the 1996 USA men's Olympic water polo coach. "For Heather, she is a four-time Olympian and for her to get a gold medal in what could be her final Olympics, it doesn't get any better than that. She had a great match. That shot she made was brilliant and gave the United States a lot of confidence. I had the pleasure of coaching Elsie and she was just an outstanding student-athlete and a great player. This win today is a great statement as to where Cal and USA water polo is among the world stage. You couldn't ask for better role models than Heather Petri and Elsie Windes."
Petri and teammate Brenda Villa are the first U.S. women to compete in four consecutive Olympic Games in water polo and now have a gold medal for their efforts. The United States had medaled in all three prior Olympic competitions for women's water polo, winning a silver medal in 2000 in Sydney, a bronze medal in 2004 in Athens and a silver medal in 2008 in Beijing. Windes joined Petri at the 2008 games in Beijing.
The Americans finished the London Games 5-0-1 with earlier victories over Hungary (14-13), China (7-6), Italy in the quarterfinals (9-6) and Australia (11-9 OT) in the semifinals. The United States' only blemish was a 9-9 tie with Spain on Aug. 1.
Petri lettered at Cal from 1997-99 and returned to finish her degree and eligibility in 2001 after the 2000 Sydney Games. Windes had a stellar career for the Bears, earning All-America honors from 2005-07. Through her years with Team USA, Petri has had the pleasure of competing in the Olympics with three different Bears - Courtney Johnson and Ericka Lorenz in 2000, Lorenz in 2004, and Windes in 2008 - and even a former coach, Maureen O'Toole-Purcell in 2000.
Track & Field
Montano benefited from running in the fastest of three semifinal heats with the top two finished from each heat plus the next two fastest overall advancing to the final. Though fourth in her race behind Caster Semenya of South Africa (1:57.67), Elena Arzhakova of Russia (1:58.13) and Kenya's Janeth Jaepkosgei Busienei (1:58.26), Montano earned the last spot in the chase for an Olympic medal.
Last year, Montano finished fourth at the World Championships in the 800, and she owns a personal-best mark of 1:57.34 in the event.