USA Defeats Japan By Historic 25-4 to Open Water Polo at #Tokyo2020


Team USA picked up its first victory and handed Japan its first loss of the Tokyo Olympic women’s water polo tournament on Saturday in Tokyo. The American women scored 25 goals and only conceded 4 to their opponents. They are two of 10 teams that will be competing for the gold medal. Since the introduction of water polo as a women’s Olympic sport at the 2000 Sydney Games, only 8 teams have been allowed to participate.

For a brief amount of time this morning, the American women held the record f0r the largest goal margin in Olympic history. Spain claimed that record hours later with their 29-4 victory over South Africa.

The end result broke several Olympic records, including most goals scored in a match (25), most goals in a half (14 in the first half), and largest margin of victory in Olympic history (21).

The Americans were 6/9 on power plays and 2/3 on penalty shots.

Later in the day, Spain would break all of those Olympic Records by beating South Africa 29-4. They scored 15 goals in the second half out of 25 total and won by a 25-goal margin.

The US women are two-time defending champions, having defeated Italy 12-5 in the final in 2016 and Spain 8-5 in 2012. Italy did not qualify for the tournament at the 2020 Olympic Games.

The ten teams in each group mean that countries will have ‘bye’ games. Group A is composed of Australia, Spain, Canada, South Africa, and the Netherlands, and Group B consists of Russia, the USA, China, Japan, and Hungary.

The Netherlands and Hungary — the two last teams to receive their Olympic bids — sit at the bottom of their respective groups because they have not yet played a game. The eight other teams have all played one game.

Japan earned a bid as host of the Olympic games. Hungary and the Netherlands qualified by winning their semifinal matches at the FINA Women’s Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament. Hungary came out victorious in the final, scoring 13 goals to the Dutchs’ 11.

Team USA set numerous records during its win over Japan on Saturday, the most obvious being the number of goals scored. The women scored 25 goals in their first match, which is 9 more than Australia and China’s benchmark of 16 from the 2012 London Games. They netted 14 balls in the first half, which surpassed the previous record of 10. Finally, their 25-4 win created a 21-goal margin, the most in Olympic history.

Margaret Steffens and Stephanie Haralabidis were the top scorers in the USA-Japan match. They both sent 5 goals into the back of the net. Madeline Musselman and Aria Fischer each recorded four of their own. Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson saved 15 of 19 shots. On the opposing side, Rikako Miura saved 12/37 shots on goal. Miku Koide was Japan’s top scorer, ending the game with two goals.

The Spaniards toppled the records and claimed them as their own only a few hours after the American women. They defeated South Africa 29-4. Thus, they took over for the most goals scored in a single match and had the largest goal margin of 25. They scored 15 goals in the second half of the match, outscoring the Americans by 1.

Elena Ruiz scored the most for the team, putting away 5 goals. Bea Ortiz, Anna Espar Llaquet, and Judith Forca Ariza each popped in 4. Spanish goalie Laura Ester Ramos did not see much action, stopping 2 of the 6 shots that came her way. This contrasts the 45 shots Meghan Maartens faced, of which she blocked 16.

Russia and China had a much closer match, with the Russians out-scoring the Chinese 18-17. The two teams were tied going into the final quarter. China managed to score three more, but Russia came home victorious, getting 4 shots into the net. Xinyan Wang scored all four of her attempts.

In the final match of day one, Australia defeated Canada 8-5. Australia’s goalkeeper Lena Yanitsas blocked 72% of the balls that came toward her net. Her team took an early lead in the second quarter and remained ahead throughout the entire match.

Group A Standings:

  1. Australia / Spain
  2. Canada / South Africa
  3. Netherlands

Group B Standings:

  1. Russia / USA
  2. China / Japan
  3. Hungary

The next set of matches on the women’s side will be on Monday, July 26. The US will take on China in the next match. Russia and Italy will begin the tournament on the men’s side tomorrow at 10:00 am in Tokyo.

Leading Goal Scorers:

  • Stephanie Haralabidis (USA) – 5
  • Elena Ruiz (ESP) – 5
  • Margaret Steffens (USA) – 5
  • Anna Espar Llaquet (ESP) – 4
  • Aria Fischer (USA) – 4
  • Judith Forca Ariza (ESP) – 4
  • Madeline Musselman (USA) – 4
  • Bea Ortiz (ESP) – 4
  • Ekaterina Prokofyeva (ROC) – 4
  • Xinyan Wang (CHN) – 4

Goalkeeper Statistics (% Blocked):

  • Ashleigh Johnson (USA) – 79%
  • Lea Yanitsas (AUS) – 72%
  • Claire Wright (CAN) – 56%
  • Anna Karnaukh (ROC) – 37%
  • Meghan Maartens (RSA) – 36%

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1 month ago

Japan not having a good first day 😭

Reply to  Virtus
1 month ago

I mean japan has already won two medals so far so I wouldn’t say we are doing too bad. Just meh on the first day of swimming

cynthia curran
Reply to  Virtus
1 month ago

I saw the game and eventually the US crammed Japan. These places like Newport Bach or Laguna Beach are into water polo almost as much as the aussies are into swimming. In fact only the goalie on the US side was from another state than California, Florida.

Power 5 swimmer
1 month ago

Coach Klatt 😳😳😳

1 month ago

Team USA Coach keeping ace scorer Lola on the bench and in reserve for when they really need a clutch goal.