A day after securing a spot at the 2016 Olympic Games, the USA Water Polo Women's National Team kept up their winning ways by defeating Spain, 13-7, on Sunday to advance to the gold-medal match of the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Gouda, Netherlands.
Stanford grads Kiley Neushul and Melissa Seidemann plus incoming Cardinal freshman Makenzie Fischer all scored three goals in the victory that included a 9-for-12 performance on power plays.
Stanford grad Melissa Seidemann. Photo courtesy of USA Water Polo.
Just days after topping Spain, 8-6, in a pivotal group-play match, the two teams got together knowing both would be headed to Rio. The opening moments of this match were close as Neushul started with the first goal of the day, Team USA's 100th of the tournament, for a 1-0 lead.
After Spain countered, Team USA then created some distance with a backhand from Kami Craig and the first of Seidemann's goals for a 3-1 lead. Fischer followed with her first goal and the United States jumped out to a 4-1 lead. Spain chipped away with consecutive goals for a 4-3 match, but Maddie Musselman had the last word on a power-play strike for a 5-3 lead.
The United States expanded its lead in the second quarter as Fischer and Stanford senior Maggie Steffens scored back-to-back goals. Team USA remained in control at halftime, 7-4.
In the third quarter, Spain drew to within two goals at 7-5 match, but would get no closer. Seidemann followed with a power-play goal and Neushul tacked on another score for a 9-5 lead going to the fourth.
Hill came up huge in the fourth with two big saves on power plays, including turning aside a one-on-nobody. While the defense was clicking, the offense answered the call as well.
Seidemann hit on another play followed by goals from Musselman and Fischer for a 12-5 lead. Spain rallied with two goals, but Neushul slammed the door shut with a goal with 1:10 to play.
Meanwhile, Italy and Russia joined Team USA and Spain as the four qualifiers for the 2016 Olympic Games from this event.