The “Captain Villa Look” That Led to Water Polo Gold

Four-time Olympic medalist Brenda Villa will retire after helping the United States win its first water polo gold

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.

Video: The "Captain Villa Look" | Images: U.S. v. Spain for Gold

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."

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."

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.

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