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.
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.