Italy ends USA's 22-game win streak in women's water polo


The United States senior women's water polo team dropped just its second match of the year on Tuesday, losing to Italy, 10-9, in group play of the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

The Italians ended Team USA's 22-match winning streak. The Americans are 0-2 against Italy this year, losing an 11-9 decision in the season opener on March 21 in Rome.

The U.S. looks to regroup against Japan on Thursday before the qualification round begins Saturday. The Americans last won gold in this event in 2009.

Rachel Fattal led the Americans with five goals and four assists while Stanford grad Kiley Neushul scored twice and added a pair of assists.

Cardinal grad Melissa Seidemann and incoming Stanford freshman Makenzie Fischer also scored.

Italy struck first with a goal from Roberta Bianconi to grab a quick 1-0 lead. The United States responded in a heartbeat with two consecutive strikes from Fattal to take a 2-1 lead. Italy took over from there, answering with three straight goals to close out the period, including another from Bianconi, for a 4-2 advantage after the first.

Italy went ahead 5-2 midway through the second quarter on a goal from Giulia Emmolo, only to see Seidemann return fire with a tally for a 5-3 match. Italy found the back of the net once more in the second period and held a 6-3 lead going into halftime.

The third quarter witnessed the big push for Team USA. Neushul started things off with a goal to close within two at 6-4. After Bianconi came back with another tally for Italy to make it 7-4, Neushul hit again for a 7-5 match. Then Fattal used the counter attack to her advantage and racked up two more goals to tie the game at 7 with 2:49 remaining in the period. That would be as close as Team USA would get as a goal moments later from Bianconi put the Italians on top at 8-7.

In the final period, Italy scored two straight to take a three-goal lead once more, this time at 10-7. The USA looked to rally one last time as Fattal hit for her fifth with 1:09 to play, but that was it. A penalty shot from Fischer came with just seconds remaining.

Team USA converted just one of eight on power plays while Italy was three of seven.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA water polo

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