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LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 05: Brenda Villa of the United States looks to play a pass in the women's water polo quarter final between Italy and the United States on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Water Polo Arena on August 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Led by Southern Californians Brenda Villa and Kelly Rulon, the U.S. women’s water polo team defeated Italy 9-6 Sunday.
Villa and Rulon scored two goals apiece in the winning effort. UCLA graduate Courtney Mathewson added one goal to the total.
After trailing 2-0 in the first quarter, the U.S. went on a 6-1 run to close out the first half.
Long Beach’s Betsy Armstrong kept the Italians at bay the rest of the game, making over a dozen saves.
The match was heated and included multiple exclusions. Italian coach Fabio Conti was red-carded and ejected from the game in the fourth quarter.
The U.S. team is undefeated and will play Australia Tuesday in the semifinals.
Both teams faced off in the semifinals in Beijing in 2008. The U.S. won that match 9-8 on their way to a silver medal.