Stanford junior Ashley Grossman scored the go-ahead goal with 4:11 remaining to play in the first half and Cardinal junior Kiley Neushul scored the first goal of the second half to extend the lead and the United States women's junior national water polo team downed Italy, 8-5, at the FINA Junior World Championships in Volos, Greece on Tuesday.
UCLA sophomore Rachel Fattal scored four goals to lead the Americans, who play New Zealand on Wednesday to complete group play.
Team USA held the Italians to one goal through the first 16 minutes of play, which was a good thing since the U.S. was limited to a pair of goals in the first half, and eventually took a 4-1 lead before Italy scored again.
Italy managed to pull within 6-5 early in the fourth quarter before USC junior Monica Vavic scored. Fattal took care of most of the other scoring.
"Defensive intensity set the tone for the game," U.S. coach Dan Klatt said. "The players had great focus on 5 on 6 and 6 on 5, which ultimately led to our success. We are satisfied with today's result, and we must begin planning for tomorrow's game."
New Zealand brings a 1-1 mark into Wednesday's proceedings, losing to Italy and beating Kazakhstan.
The U.S., with Fattal part of the team, won the UANA Junior Pan American Championships in Montreal last August.