LONDON (AP) -- The American women's water polo team has some work to do shoring up its usually tight defense before it takes on a sharp-shooting Spain attack at the London Olympics.
The Americans struggled to an opening 14-13 win over Hungary on Monday and has a day off Tuesday to work on its defense ahead of Wednesday's match with Spain, which opened its Olympic campaign by beating 2011 World Championship runner-up China 11-6.
Maggie Steffens scored seven goals and Courtney Mathewson added four in both players' Olympic debuts, providing the firepower for the U.S. attack.
But it was the team's defense that was a worry.
"There are a lot of different defense methods and there was a lot of scrambling throughout the game, so perhaps we need to be more organized," said U.S. goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong.
Spain isn't a traditional power in the women's game like the U.S. or Australia, but the talented and young Spanish team won the 2012 Olympic qualifying tournament, beating well-established European teams like Greece, Hungary and Italy along the way.
U.S. captain Brenda Villa, who is appearing in her fourth Olympics, said that against Spain, the U.S. "could do a better job on defense, communicate a bit better."
"It's just a matter getting used to your environment," she said, referring to London's water polo arena, which has been packed for men's and women's games. "I think we'll lock it down a bit better going forward. Spain's a great team, they scored 11 goals on China, so we're definitely going to have to focus on our defense."
The U.S. has finished on the podium at every Olympics since the women's water polo debuted in 2000, taking home a bronze in 2004 and silver in 2000 and 2008. With seven players back from the Beijing squad, the Americans are a gold medal favorite in London along with rival Australia.
Since Beijing, the American women have been playing - and consistently winning - under coach Adam Krikorian. They won the FINA World League Super Final and the world championships in 2009. They repeated as Super Final champions in 2010 and 2011, won the 2010 World Cup, and took gold at last year's Pan American Games. Their only stumble was a sixth-place finish at last year's world championships in Shanghai.
Still, those competitions are not the Olympics - the sport's grandest stage - which Krikorian acknowledged may have contributed a bit to his team's shaky defensive performance Monday.
"We were, I don't know about jitters, just too excited, too anxious, and we made some bad mistakes today defensively that we usually don't make," he said. "I attribute that to just the first game anxiousness. We need to settle down, take a deep breath and play with a little more intelligence and a little more composure from this point forward."
The Americans will get a chance to do just that on Wednesday against Spain.
Ryan Lucas can be reached on twitter at www.twitter.com/relucasz