USA women remain in position for an Olympic berth


With future Stanford freshman Mackenzie Fischer leading the way, the USA Women's National Team held off Spain, 8-6, on Wednesday to win a hotly contested physical match and, in the process, earned its third straight win at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Gouda, Netherlands.

Fischer scored four goals to lead all scorers while Ashleigh Johnson recorded 12 saves in goal. Team USA next plays Greece.

As has been the trend thus far, the U.S. jumped out a quick lead on a goal from Rachel Fattal in the first minute of play. Fischer followed with her first tally. Spain battled back immediately, scoring two straight to draw level at 2-2 after the first period.

Defense was the name of the game in the second period as neither side scored by the two minute mark. Fattal opened the scoring in the quarter with her second goal followed by a goal from Stanford grad Melissa Seidemann for a 4-2 USA lead with just 55 seconds to play. Laura Lopez rallied with a goal for Spain on the next posession to leave the USA ahead at halftime, 4-3.

Team USA started the third quarter with Fischer scoring her second, followed by a goal from Stanford senior Maggie Steffens on a power play for a 6-3 advantage going late into the period. Spain closed to within two going into the final eight minutes.

Things got a little tighter early in the fourth as Lopez scored her second to draw within 6-5. That's when Fischer took over, scoring two straight goals to push the lead to 8-5. The first came following a Steffens' field block on a power play and the second was on the counter attack.

Spain put together one last run, drawing to within 8-6 on a score from Beatriz Ortiz.

The United States went 3-for-7 on power plays while Spain made just two of 10 with neither team attempting a penalty shot.

The U.S. won its second straight match on Tuesday, a 14-7 victory over Canada on Day 2 of the qualification tournament.

Fischer scored the first two goals of the match for a 2-0 lead. Stanford grad Kiley Neushul scored with two seconds left in the first period to give the Americans a 5-2 lead.

Neushul found the back of the net again in the second quarter to open the scoring for a 6-2 lead. The USA grabbed a 10-5 lead after three quarters.

Steffens and KK Clark from Menlo Park added goals in the fourth period to help close the scoring.

Team USA went 4-for-7 on power plays while Canada was three of eight, with neither team attempting a penalty shot.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA Water Polo

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