Team USA heads into quarterfinals of FINA Super Final


Maggie Steffens owns an Olympic gold medal, a couple of NCAA water polo championships and has been named FINA World Female Player of the Year twice. She could be on her way to earning another gold medal before returning to Stanford for her senior year.

Cardinal grads Kiley Neushul and Melissa Seidemann, incoming Stanford freshman Mackenzie Fischer and Menlo Park resident and Sacred Heart Prep grad KK Clark are also playing for the U.S. Women's Senior National Team that is preparing to defend its Olympic title at the 2016 Rio Games in August.

All four local players have been making major contributions to Team USA's run through the FINA World League Super Final this week. Stanford's Ashley Grossman and Gabby Stone also have been training with the team.

The Americans finished pool play Thursday with a 12-10 Group B victory over Spain, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist.

Team USA (3-0, 25-2 overall) advance into Friday's quarterfinal round against Russia in Shanghai, China.

The U.S. has won three major tournaments already this year, including last week's Kunshan Cup, also in China.

Neushul scored four goals to pace Thursday's victory over Spain. Steffens added three and Clark recorded a pair of goals.

The U.S. has outscored its three opponents by a 43-20 margin, though 18 of those goals allowed have been in the past two games.

The Americans allowed no more than eight goals in a game twice in the previous 25.

"We'll take the goals every game," U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said. "That meant our offense was OK. But our defense had some problems. We're concerned. We need to improve our defense."

Team USA and Australia appear headed for another showdown in Shanghai. The Stingers went 3-0 in Group A.

Following the Super Final, the Americans return home for a series of exhibition matches against Hungary and Russia.

Team USA's final match before departing for Rio will take place at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center on July 27 at 7 p.m. against the Russians.

"I think we could reach our best form if we could play 100 matches before the Rio Olympic Games," Krikorian said. "There are four veterans who competed in the Olympic Games before, while most of them are young players."

— Pal Alto Online Sports/USA Water Polo

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