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VIA USA WATER POLO
In a rematch of the 2012 Olympic Games gold medal final and the quarterfinals of the 2013 FINA World Championships, the latest chapter of the USA-Spain rivalry unfolded in Kazan earlier tonight. This encounter went to the USA Women as they downed Spain 8-5, the identical score from the last Olympic Games final, and with it punched a ticket to the semifinal round of the 2015 FINA World Championships. Kiley Neushul (Goleta, CA/Stanford/Santa Barbara) and Rachel Fattal (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/SOCAL) scored two goals each while Ashleigh Johnson (Miami, FL/Princeton/Miami Riptides) recorded 15 saves in net. The match will replay later today on Universal Sports at 6pm et/3pm pt. Team USA now moves on to meet Australia on Wednesday evening at 8:15pm local time/10:15am pt. The match will stream live on UniversalSports.com and air on delay on Universal Sports at 7pm et/4pm pt. For live streaming, click here.
Much like the Olympic final three years ago the early stages of this match were dominated by Team USA. Neushul found the net in the opening minute for a 1-0 lead and in the closing minute of the period Kaleigh Gilchrist (Newport Beach, CA/USC/Trojan) delivered for a 2-0 lead after one.
Fattal connected early in the second period right as a power play concluded for a 3-0 lead. Spain would get on the board moments later on a power play goal from Anni Espar for a 3-1 match. Team USA had a firm answer with Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Stanford/Diablo) scoring a penalty shot and Neushul adding her second goal for a 5-1 match with 2:23 remaining in the half. Spain mustered a goal late in the period from Judith Forca but Team USA remained in command at 5-2 at the intermission.
Things tightened up quite a bit in the third quarter as Spain mounted a comeback. Paula Leiton converted on a power play and Espar found the net for the second time for a 5-4 game with 3:08 to play in the quarter. Kami Craig (Santa Barbara, CA/USC/Santa Barbara) halted the run with a goal in close for a 6-4 lead going to the final period.
Spain looked to stage one last rally in the fourth quarter as Maica Garcia struck first to draw within one at 6-5. Again the United States had a response ready and waiting. Fattal scored on the very next possession and then a little over a minute later Courtney Mathewson (Anaheim Hills, CA/UCLA/NYAC) closed the door with a goal and an 8-5 lead. That score would hold up over the final four minutes as Team USA came away with the three goal victory.
Team USA went 3/8 on power plays and 1/1 on penalty shots while Spain went 3/10 and did not attempt a penalty shot.
Scoring – Scoresheet
USA 8 (2, 3, 1, 2) K. Neushul 2, R. Fattal 2, K. Craig 1, M. Steffens 1, C. Mathewson 1, K. Gilchrist 1
ESP 5 (0, 2, 2, 1) A. Espar 2, M. Garcia 1, J. Forca 1, P. Leiton 1
Saves – USA – A. Johnson – 15 – ESP – L. Ester 6
6×5 – USA 3/8 – ESP – 3/10
Penalties – USA – 1/1 – ESP – 0/0
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