Kazan, Russia – July 28 – For the first time in 2015 the USA Women’s National Team lost a match in a major competition, dropping a 10-9 decision to Italy at the FINA World Championship. Coincidentally, it was Italy that gave Team USA their last loss, 11-9 in a friendly played in Rome this past March. This one had much more on the line as Team USA now falls to 1-1 in group play and faces the likely prospect of having to compete in the elimination round on August 1.
Rachel Fattal (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/SOCAL) scored a game high five goals while Ashleigh Johnson (Miami, FL/Princeton/Miami Riptides) added eight saves in the defeat. The match will replay later today on Universal Sports at 6pm et/3pm pt.
Team USA closes out group play on Thursday when they take on Japan at 10:50am local time. The match will stream live on UniversalSports.com at 3:40am et/12:40am pt and air later the same day on Universal Sports at 6pm et/3pm pt. For more streaming information, click here.
As for this match, it would be Italy that struck first with a goal from Roberta Bianconi to grab a quick 1-0 lead. The United States responded in a heartbeat with two consecutive strikes from Fattal to take a 2-1 lead. Italy took over from there answering with three straight goals to close out the period, including another from Bianconi, for a 4-2 advantage after the first.
Italy went ahead 5-2 midway through the second quarter on a goal from Giulia Emmolo only to see Melissa Seidemann (Walnut Creek, CA/Stanford/NYAC) return fire with a tally for a 5-3 match. Italy found the back of the net once more in the second period and held a 6-3 lead going into halftime.
The third quarter witnessed the big push for Team USA. Kiley Neushul (Goleta, CA/Stanford/Santa Barbara) started things off with a goal to close within two at 6-4. After Bianconi came back with another tally for Italy to make it 7-4, Neushul hit again for a 7-5 match. Then Fattal used the counter attack to her advantage and racked up two more goals to tie the game at 7-7 with 2:49 remaining in the period. That would be as close as Team USA would get on this day. Italy battled back with a goal moments later, another from Bianconi, to go ahead 8-7 headed to the fourth.
In the final period Italy scored two straight to take a three goal lead once more, this time at 10-7. The United States looked to rally one last time as Fattal hit for her fifth with 1:09 to play but it would be too little too late. A penalty shot score from Makenzie Fischer (Laguna Beach, CA/Laguna Beach HS/SET) would come with just four seconds left and not factor in the decision.
Team USA went 1/8 on power plays and 1/1 on penalty shots while Italy was 3/7 on power plays and 1/1 on penalty shots.
Scoring – Scoresheet
USA 9 (2, 1, 4, 2) R. Fattal 5, K. Neushul 2, M. Seidemann 1, M. Fischer 1
ITA 10 (4, 2, 2, 2) R. Bianconi 4, G. Emmolo 3, T. Di Mario 1, A. Garibotti 1, E. Quierolo 1
Saves – USA – A. Johnson 8 – ITA G. Gorlero 11
6×5 – USA – 1/8 – ITA – 3/7
Penalties – USA – 1/1 – ITA – 1/1
Swimming news courtesy of USA Water Polo.