American women repeat as Olympic water polo champions


Another round of gold. It's on the U.S. women's Olympics water polo team, which maintained its world dominance from its first appearance in the pool in February through its gold medal victory, 12-5, over Italy Friday at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio.

The Americans became the first women's water polo team to repeat as Olympic champions, displaying the same championship form that helped the U.S. win 40 of its 42 matches this year.

How dominant is Team USA? It outscored its Olympic opponents by a combined 73-31 margin, an average of 12.2-5.2. The opposition scored 10 or more goals exactly three times all season against the U.S., while the Americans scored at least 10 goals on 36 occasions.

"We could be playing dominoes back at the apartment and they would all want to beat me and beat each other," U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said. "This group hates to lose and that makes my job much easier. It's as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. I'm fortunate to have an extremely competitive group."

Stanford grad Kiley Neushul scored three goals to lead the Americans, while Cardinal incoming freshman Mackenzie Fischer added a pair. Stanford senior Maggie Steffens and Cardinal grad Melissa Seidemann scored.

Menlo Park resident and Sacred Heart grad KK Clark also played in the gold medal match.

The U.S. never trailed, though Italy was within 5-3 at halftime. The Americans scored the first three goals of the third period and never looked back. Rachel Fattal, Neushul and Seidemann delivered the scores.

Maddie Musselman converted a penalty shot, Ashleigh Johnson blocked a penalty shot and the U.S. defense rose to the occasion once again.

Courtney Mathewson and Kami Craig also scored for the U.S. Sami Hill, Aria Fischer and Kaleigh Gilchrist also played for the U.S.

Krikorian, a Mountain View native, has now won two gold medals to add to his collection of seven NCAA women's championships. He also led the UCLA men's team to three national titles, two with former U.S. national team coach Guy Baker.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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