USA Women’s Water Polo Makes History at FINA World Championships

The United States of America became the first team in history to hold Olympic, World Championship, World Cup and World League crowns at the same time when it beat Netherlands 5-4 in the gold-medal final tonight.

Netherlands was denied a second gold medal after winning in Perth in 1991 and now has five silver medals from this event. For the USA it was a fourth title after victories in 2003, 2007 and 2009.

Twice champion Italy won the bronze medal over Australia in a penalty shootout, closing the match at 7-7 and winning the penalties 5-3 for a 12-10 victory.

Greece was involved in its third penalty shootout in four days — two for men — when it came back seven times against China for 9-9 to force the five shots. However, like the men the night before, Greece lost the shootout, 3-4 in China’s 13-12 victory.

In the classification match for seventh, outgoing champion Spain beat Russia 15-10.

Media Awards

Rachel Fattal (USA)

Ashleigh Johnson (USA)
Kami Craig (USA)
Zoe Arancini (AUS)
Roberta Bianconi (ITA)
Rachel Fattal (USA)
Rita Keszthelyi (HUN)
Maud Megens (NED)


Classification 1-2 (Gold Medal)

Quarters: 0-1, 2-1, 3-1, 0-1

Referees: Sergey Naumov (RUS), Massimiliano Caputi (ITA).

Extra Man: USA: 1/11. NED: 1/7.

Pens: NED:  0/1.


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Samantha Hill, Madeline Musselman (1), Melissa Seidemann, Rachel Fattal (2), Alys Williams, Maggie Steffens, Courtney Mathewson (1), Kiley Neushul (1), Ashley Grossman, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Makenzie Fischer, Kami Craig, Ashleigh Johnson. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

NETHERLANDS: Laura Aarts, Yasemin Smit (1), Dagmar Genee, Chatarina van der Sloot, Amarens Genee, Nomi Stomphorst, Marloes Nijhuis, Vivian Sevenich, Maud Megens (2), Isabella van Toorn, Lieke Klaassen (1), Leonie van der Molen, Debby Willemsz. Head Coach: Arno Havenga.

Match Report:

USA made it a clean sweep of all the women’s water polo trophies with a 5-4 victory over the Netherlands. USA trailed only in the first period and had a two-goal margin for much of the final period. Dutch captain Yasemin Smit scored the opening goal at 1:59 with a bouncer on the right side of the pool to take a lead to the second quarter.

It was not long before USA was on the board as Rachel Fattal, voted Most Valuable Player of the tournament, scored from the left at 7:00. Madeline Musselman added another on counter and USA was in its usual, comfortable position in front. Nearly three minutes later Lieke Klaassen upset the lead on counter herself for 2-2.

Later in the period, Dutch head coach Arno Havenga gained a yellow card. The long break came and went and it was Fattal who proved her worth to the team at 6:55 with a second goal. Maud Megens, out to emulate her mother, 1991 World Championship gold medallist Patricia Libregts, scored her 12th of the tournament on extra from the left-post position.

Kiley Neushul scored down the right at 4:36 and it looked like another USA shot went across the line, but it was denied as it bobbled on the line at 3:31. Never mind, USA scored through Courtney Mathewson from shot from the top that went straight down to the left corner for 5-3 at 0:35. The Dutch called a timeout, however, nothing came from talk and the final break of the championship arrived.

The crucial third period was won 3-1 by the USA. Catharina van der Sloot had a penalty attempt blocked by goalkeeper of the tournament Ashleigh Johnson (USA) at 4:02 of the final period, but the Dutch weren’t out of the picture as Megens, named to the Media All Star team, received a long cross pass to beat Johnson for 4-5 at 3:13. She scored four goals in the semifinal against Italy, proving she is a big-game player. In the final minute, Johnson made two crucial saves that gave USA victory, proving her the best goalie of the Championship.


Chris Oeding (USA)_ — Assistant Coach
“The Dutch came out with tempo and physical play and we had trouble early on with forced errors and we were out of synch and were made to work for every goal that we got. There were little nerves on both sides and trading goals early on. What gave us the game was Ashleigh (Johnson) in goal. She gave us a lot of confidence in those moments when most needed. “ On holding all four world trophies at once: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I was involved in the last couple and it’s incredible and each is unique in its own way. We have so many new kids on the team. It’s their first.”

Swimming news courtesy of FINA.

Leave a Reply

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

Read More »