U.S. junior women rally to tie Japan in water polo tournament

Stanford junior Sarah Klass scored the game-tying goal with just over a minute to play against Japan. Photo by John P. Lozano/

Japan outscored the U.S. women’s junior national water polo team 5-1 in the third quarter and the game ended in an 11-11 draw in the first round of the FINA Junior World Championships in Funchal, Portugal on Monday.

Stanford sophomore Ryann Neushul scored three times for the Americans, who raced to a 7-3 halftime advantage. Cardinal junior Sarah Klass added a pair of goals.

Ruyan Neushul/Stanford Athletics
"It was a very well played game for both teams,” UCLA grad and two-time Olympic medalist Natalie (Golda) Benson said. “Japan is a very strong team. It was the first game of the tournament, the girls maybe showed they were nervous but we are excited to move on for the next game.”

Japan and the U.S. share second place behind Hungary in Group A. The Hungarians beat Australia 10-9. Hungary meets the Americans on Tuesday and will face Australia on Wednesday.

The Japanese outscored the U.S. 8-2 in the second half to open an 11-9 edge in the fourth quarter. Klass scored with 1:03 remaining to play to tie the score.

“It’s not the result we wanted,” Klass said. “But we were able to battle back from a two goal deficit in the fourth quarter, which was great.”

Klass’ game-tying goal came on a power play and was assisted by Neushul.

“We’re looking to improve on our 6-on-5 offense and our counter defense,” Klass said. “We’re looking forward to playing Hungary.”

UCLA’s Georgia Phillips recorded nine saves for the U.S., which went 3 of 14 on power plays while Japan converted four of five.

In other matches, Brazil downed Kazakhstan 15-10, The Netherlands and Spain tied 12-12, Italy topped South Africa 16-10, Russia routed host Portugal 24-3, Greece slipped by New Zealand 15-9 and China beat Canada 12-9.

— Palo Alto Sports Online/USA Water Polo

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