Dominant. That’s the only word for the United States women’s water polo team, which won yet another international honor and qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic tournament, at which they will be the favorites.
The U.S. defeated a previously undefeated Italian team, 10-9, to win the FINA World League Super Final in Budapest (HUN). It’s the 13th title for the American women and sixth in a row – in 2014-15-16-17-18-19 – as they compiled a 6-0 tournament record and a 78-41 goal differential.
The U.S. won its group games by a combined 39-20, against Hungary (12-9), Canada (15-4) and Russia, 12-7, then stomped China in its quarterfinal (21-6) and got past the Netherlands in a difficult game, 7-5. The final against Italy ended in a 10-9 triumph.
The U.S. trailed, 4-3, at halftime, but exploded for four goals in the third quarter thanks to two straight tallies by Makenzie Fischer for a 5-4 lead and after Italy tied the match at 5-5, Fischer scored again and Maddie Musselman added another for a 7-6 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Another six goals – three each – in the final stanza left the final at 10-9; after Italy closed to 8-7, Aria Fischer and Musselman scored to put the game out of reach at 10-8, although Italy got the final score.
Musselman led the U.S. in scoring with 14 goals in the tournament, followed by Maggie Steffens and Aria Fischer, who had 10 each. Musselman was named Most Valuable Player of the Super Final.
The award for top goalkeeper was given to Laura Aarts of the Netherlands. The top scorers in the tournament were Hungary’s Rita Keszthelyi and Maud Megens (NED) with 17 each.
There is prize money in the Super Final: $50,000-40,000-30,000-25,000-20,000-15,000-12,500-10,000 ($202,500 total). Summaries:
FINA Women’s World League Super Final
Budapest (HUN) ~ 4-9 June 2019
(Full results here)
Final Standings: 1. United States; 2. Italy; 3. Russia; 4. Netherlands; 5. Australia; 6. Hungary; 7. Canada; 8. China. Semis: U.S. 8, Netherlands 6; Italy 13, Russia 12. Third: Russia 10, Netherlands 7. Final: U.S. 10, Italy 9.