Stanford's Jamie Neushul scored the winning goal with 15 seconds left to play to carry the USA Women's Junior National Team to a thrilling 17-16 victory over Spain at the FINA Junior World Championships on Wednesday in Volos, Greece.
The triumph marked the third straight victory for Team USA, which took first place in its group and earned a bye into Friday's quarterfinals.
The Americans meet Brazil in the quarterfinals. Brazil downed Japan, 12-9 in Thursday's qualification round to advance.
Aria Fischer scored four goals and Neushul added three, including the game-winner. Stanford's Jordan Raney scored once and Amanda Longan went the distance in net while recording nine saves.
A combined 41 exclusions were called in the match, resulting in four USA players fouling out and leaving goalkeeper Emalia Eichleberger to play the field in the final moments of the match.
Team USA got off to a quick start in this match with goals from Mary Brooks and Fischer to go ahead 2-0 in the opening 90 seconds. Spain rallied to tie the match at 2 while setting the tone for what would be a back-and-forth match throughout. Judith Forca scored four goals in the period for Spain to help her team take a 6-5 lead after the first period.
Andrea Gonzalez scored early in the second quarter to give Spain its largest lead at 8-5 before Team USA began to battle back.
Emily Loughlin and Neushul scored to make it 8-7 with 4:43 to play in the first half. Spain went ahead 9-7, but the rest of the quarter belonged to the USA. Alexis Liebowitz and Fischer connected to tie the match at 9 and then Makenzie Barr found the net with just four seconds left to give the Americans a 10-9 halftime lead.
The United States kept up the offensive attack in the third quarter, building its lead to 13-9 with 3:53 to go in the period. Fischer, Neushul, and Tara Prentice all scored to push the advantage to four. Spain scored two of the next three goals to close out the third period trailing 14-11.
Both teams continued to score into the fourth quarter but, after Brooks scored her second of the day, Team USA went ahead 16-13 with 5:11 to play. Spain rallied with two straight goals to close within one at 16-15 with 2:19 to go in the match.
Neushul's goal with just 15 seconds left sealed the deal for Team USA as it went up 17-15. A goal with three seconds left from Spain's Beatriz Ortiz wrapped up the wild match. Team USA went 11 for 20 on power plays and converted its lone penalty shot while Spain was 10 for 19 on power plays and also made a penalty shot.