The U.S. Olympic women's water polo team capped a 3-0 run through group play at the 2016 Olympics with an 11-6 win over Hungary on Saturday. The win sets up a quarterfinal matchup with host Brazil on Monday as the competition moves to the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.
"That's what we need to be ready for," American coach Adam Krikorian said. “I'd be shocked if teams don't come out and play physical with us. Everyone's looking for an edge and trying to find a way to gain an advantage."
Team USA got on the board early, this time on a Steffens goal with 6:28 to play in the first quarter for a 1-0 lead. The teams traded goals the rest of the quarter as Gabriella Szucs connected for Hungary with 5:15 to play only to see Steffens score on the next possession for a 2-1 lead. Hungary had the last word in the quarter on a Barbara Bujka goal with 4:29 to play in the period.
The 2-2 tie was broken a little over a minute into the second period as Cardinal grad Kiley Neushul turned in a fantastic effort, spinning off one defender and driving to the goal for a score and a 3-2 lead.
Hungary kept it close scoring on the next possession on a goal from Dora Czigany but Steffens came right back with a power play for a 4-3 lead.
"We made her captain for a reason." Krikorian said of Steffens. “She's an excellent player but even a better leader. She's someone that we can count on to play with intelligence and intensity all the time."
The United States started to pull away in the second half of the quarter adding three more goals, two coming from Maddie Musselman for a 7-3 halftime advantage.
Abby Johnston tied for fifth place in Saturday's women's 3-meter semifinals to earn a spot in the Olympic finals. Stanford's Kassidy Cook just missed the cut after finishing the semifinals in 13th place.
The top 12 divers from the semifinals advanced to the finals, which are set for 4 p.m. local time on Sunday.
Johnston finished the semifinals with 324.75 points to qualify for the individual finals. China's Shi Tingmao led all qualifiers with 385.00 points, followed by teammate He Zi at 364.05. Scores do not carry over into the finals.
Johnston had another consistent afternoon with scores no lower than 61.50 on any of her five dives. She was in 14th place after her first dive but climbed her way into the top six after her third-round dive, a front 3 ½ pike, scored 69.75 points. A 67.50-point inward 2 ½ pike in round four pushed her up to fifth place.
“I feel really good about the way I dove tonight. I think I was a little more nervous today than I was yesterday, and I hope I can be more confident tomorrow. I'm just excited to do my last list of dives out there," said Johnston, who has said she plans to retire after the Rio Olympics.
After finishing sixth in Friday's preliminaries and then tying for fifth in the semifinals, Johnston said she is hoping for one more solid performance in what is expected to be the last competition of her career.
“Diving is an any given day kind of sport. You can show up and have the best day of your life or the worst day of your life and that happens to anyone. I just want to go out there and have a really solid performance. I think that my best performance could land me on the podium, and I hope that's what happens," said Johnston, who won a silver medal in synchronized 3-meter four years ago in London.
Cook, who was competing in her first Olympics, finished 13th with 304.35 points, less than four points out of 12th place and a spot in the finals. Her second-round dive was the difference maker, with her front 3 ½ pike scoring just 41.85 points.
“I think I let my nerves get the best of me in that round. I had a little too much adrenaline. I missed the board so I ended up a little short of vertical. Those four points definitely came from that dive," said Cook, who was in 17th place after the second round.
Cook followed with 63 or more points on each of her remaining three dives, including 70.50 on her last dive