GWANGJU, South Korea – The USA Women’s National Team will play for gold and pursue their third straight FINA World Championship on Friday after defeating Australia 7-2 in semifinal action.
The Team USA defense dominated, holding Australia scoreless in the first as Ashleigh Johnson (Miami, FL/Princeton/NYAC) piled up 14 saves in net. Alys Williams (Huntington Beach, CA/UCLA/Huntington Beach WPF), Stephania Haralabidis (Athens, Greece/USC/NYAC) and Makenzie Fischer (Laguna Beach, CA/Stanford/SET) all scored two goals to lead the offense with Williams opening and closing the contest with goals.
Team USA will now advance to meet the winner of Hungary/Spain on July 26 at 6:30pm local time/5:30am et/2:30am pt. The match will air live on Olympic Channel with streaming available by clicking here. Today’s victory over Australia will re-air tonight on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) at 7pm et/4pm pt.
The USA Women used a stifling defense to keep Australia scoreless in the opening two quarters while Williams and Haralabidis got the offense started early with a 2-0 lead. Rachel Fattal (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/SOCAL) followed with a goal on a no-look dish from Kaleigh Gilchrist (Newport Beach, CA/USC/NYAC) for a 3-0 advantage after one. It was more of the same in the second quarter as Fischer and Haralabidis provided the scoring en route to a 5-0 halftime lead.
In the second half the United States pushed the lead to 6-0 before Australia got on the board with their first goal. Both defenses were strong the rest of the way as it remained 6-1 in favor of Team USA after three. The defensive battle continued into the fourth as the first goal wasn’t scored until 5:56 in the period when Australia drew to within 6-2. The rally would go no further as Williams would put the capper on the match with her second goal of the night with less than a minute left in the match.
Team USA went 3/10 on power plays while Australia was 1/11 with neither side attempting a penalty shot.
The United States will aim for their third straight FINA World Championship on Friday while looking to claim their sixth overall World Championship title in program history (2003, 2007, 2009, 2015 and 2017).
Scoring – Stats
USA 7 (3, 2, 1, 1) A. Williams 2, M. Fischer 2, S. Haralabidis 2, R. Fattal
AUS 2 (0, 0, 1, 1) B. Halligan 1, R. Webster 1
Saves – USA – A. Johnson 14 – AUS – G. Palm 2
6×5 – USA – 3/10 – AUS 1/11
Penalties – USA – 0/0 – AUS 0/0