Women's Senior National Team

USA Women To Play For Gold At 2016 Olympic Games After 14-10 Win Over Hungary


Maggie Steffens and Team USA will play for Olympic gold on Friday
Aug. 17, 2016

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - August 17 - It's official, the U.S. Olympic Women's Water Polo Team will get the opportunity to defend their Olympic crown after defeating Hungary 14-10 in the semifinal round of the 2016 Olympic Games. Captain Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Stanford/NYAC) turned in a stellar effort on defense coupled with a team high four goals to pace the attack. Ashleigh Johnson (Miami, FL/Princeton/NYAC) added eight saves in net. The only nation to medal in every Olympic Games to offer women's water polo, Team USA is assured of earning another medal in 2016 as they advance to meet Italy in the gold medal match on Friday. The game is currently set for 3:30pm/2:30pm et/11:30am pt on Friday but is subject to change. The match will air on NBC and stream live on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports App. Learn more about USA Water Polo at the 2016 Olympic Games by clicking here

Just days removed from defeating Hungary 11-6 in the final match of group play the United States met a more determined Hungarian squad. Makenzie Fischer (Laguna Beach, CA/Laguna Beach HS/SET) opened the scoring for the United States in the opening minute to go ahead 1-0. Hungary immediately responded with two straight goals, the last from Hanna Kisteleki to go up 2-1 with 3:59 to play. That gave the United States their first deficit in the Olympic Games but it was short lived. Melissa Seidemann (Walnut Creek, CA/Stanford/NYAC) followed with a goal on a second chance opportunity and Steffens scored as a power play came to a close for a 3-2 USA lead after the first period.

The United States started to build their lead in the second quarter and it started with a Rachel Fattal (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/SOCAL) goal just thirty seconds into the period. After the two sides traded goals leaving the United States ahead 5-3, Maddie Musselman (Newport Beach, CA/Corona del Mar HS/CdM Aquatics) ran off two straight goals to push the advantage to 7-3 with 4:16 to go in the half. Hungary looked to keep pace in the high scoring half adding two of the next three goals to trail by three at 8-5 at halftime. 

Everytime Hungary looked to rally, the United States had an answer. Rita Keszthelyi started the scoring in the third to make it 8-6 but Steffens followed with a score to go up 9-6 with 6:25 to go in the quarter. Kiley Neushul (Goleta, CA/Stanford/Santa Barbara) took advantage of a Hungary turnover to score for a 10-6 lead and then Steffens had another for an 11-6 score with 3:55 left in the quarter. Hungary added two more in the period sandwiched around a Kami Craig goal (Santa Barbara, CA/USC/NYAC) as the United States held a 12-8 lead going to the fourth.

Neushul kept things moving for Team USA with a goal in the opening two minutes of the fourth for a 13-8 lead. Hungary drew to within 13-9 with 2:32 to play on a Dora Czigany goal but Steffens shut the door on the very next possession with her fourth goal as the United States went on to win 14-10.

Team USA went 2/12 on power plays while Hungary was 2/11 with neither side attempting a penalty shot.

On Friday the United States will appear in their fourth Olympic Games final having previously taken part in the match in 2000 (silver), 2008 (silver) and 2012 (gold). They earned a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. A victory on Friday would continue Team USA's hold of all the major titles in women's water polo as they are the current Olympic, World Championship, World Cup, and World League Super Final champions. 

Flash Quotes

Adam Krikorian

On avoiding complacency:

"We could be playing dominoes back at the apartment and they would all want to beat me and beat each other. This group hates to lose and that makes my job much easier. It's as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. I'm fortunate to have an extremely competitive group."

On how well USA played against Hungary:

"We were complete offensively and complete in terms of our effort. We didn't lose focus but I do think we could have done a better job defensively. We haven't given up 10 goals in a long time. Hungary is a great offensive team so we knew it was going to be a challenge but I wish we could have done a little better job defensively."

On shutting down Barbara BUJKA (HUN):

"She's an excellent player and really dangerous. We knew going in that we would have to pay extra attention to her when we were on defence. We wanted to make things difficult for her as much as possible. We were fortunate that she picked up a couple of fouls early on. That made us change the game-plan and start attacking her a little more."

On playing Italy in the final:

"Besides us they have obviously been the hottest team in this tournament. I watched a little bit of their semifinal and I saw how well they were shooting the ball from the outside. Their defence has been really good and their goalie is playing fantastic. It's going to be a heck of a battle and we are going to have our hands full. No doubt about that."

Scoring - Scoresheet

USA 14 (3, 5, 4, 2) M. Steffens 4, K. Neushul 2, M. Musselman 2, M. Seidemann 1, R. Fattal 1, C. Mathewson 1, K. Gilchrist 1, K. Craig 1, M. Fischer 1
HUN 10 (2, 3, 3, 2) R. Keszthelyi 4, H. Kisteleki 2, B. Bujka 2, K. Garda 1, D. Czigany 1
Saves - USA - A. Johnson - 8 - HUN - O. Kaso 3 - E. Gangl 1

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