There were times when Brenda Villa, captain of the United States water polo team, had to get tough with her teammates during their run to a first-ever Olympics gold medal.
But Villa doesn't need to yell to make her point.
"They would tell you that sometimes I give looks," Villa said. "We've done so well together that those probably don't happen that often."
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And, after four Olympics, Team USA will have to get used to playing without their long-time leader. Villa said Friday that she plans to retire after the U.S. finally added gold to its medal collection.
Villa, of Commerce, scored a goal in the United States' 8-5 victory over a surprising Spain side in Thursday's final.
"I've been privileged to be a part of four Olympic teams, and I think it's time for me to move on and do other things," said Villa. "It's been a great run. I wouldn't change anything about it, and I got my fairy tale ending."
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The U.S. has been a water polo power during the Villa era, but only had two silvers and one bronze to show for their Olympic appearances. The team's veterans joined with a group of younger players to give gold another shot in London.
"We've been a little short in each Olympics, and now it's great to be a part of this," Villa said. "We had a great mix of veterans and young players. The last year, after placing sixth at the world championships, we knew this wasn't enough."
Those young players included 19-year-old Maggie Steffens. The Seal Beach resident scored five goals in the final. That was after a record tying seven-goal performance in her Olympic debut.
Steffens finished with a tournament-high 21 goals.