Women’s Water Polo: 4-Time Defending World Champ USA Loses to Italy in Quarterfinal


Four-time defending world champion USA women’s water polo lost an 8-7 thriller against Italy during the quarterfinals in Fukuoka, Japan.

The American women will now face Canada for fifth place on Tuesday, but they’ll miss the podium at a major international event for the first time in a decade.

Maggie Steffens led the U.S. with four goals, Maddie Musselman added two more, and Ashleigh Johnson racked up nine saves in net.

Musselman tied the game at 6-6 heading into the fourth quarter, but Italy soon pulled ahead 7-6 in the final period. The U.S. saw its deficit double with just under three minutes to play, and the team’s first goal of the fourth period by Jordan Raney with 21 seconds left proved too little, too late.

Italy converted four of five power play opportunities while the U.S. was just 2-for-14.

Scoring – Stats

USA 7 (2, 2, 2, 1) M. Steffens 4, M. Musselman 2, J. Raney 1

ITA 8 (3, 1, 2, 2) S. Guistini 3, R. Bianconi 2, C. Tabani 1, C. Marletta 1, D. Picozzi

Saves – USA – A. Johnson 9, ITA – C. Banchelli 9

6×5 – USA – 2/14 – ITA – 4/5

Penalties – USA – 2/3 – ITA – 0/0

The U.S. beat China (15-6), Australia (9-5), and France (16-5) in Fukuoka before its loss to Italy. During the first game of the tournament, Musselman scored one of the coolest goals you’ll ever see, passing it to herself with her foot before finishing through traffic.

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Lloyd, the mandroid
4 months ago

Finally the end of the road for the American Queens. Kudos to the
Italian ladies for their gutsy win. You just can’t prevail with 2 for 14
in power play. The worst part for team USA is that they now have to
play in a qualifying tournament to be able to travel to Paris next year.
What goes around comes around n’ maybe the end of an era, IDK…
Time will tell and waterpolocoachK has much word to do. The signs
were there already from recent tournaments I’m afraid and they should
know better…

Reply to  Lloyd, the mandroid
4 months ago

Incorrect! There is no special qualifying tournament like in the past. The us now will be forced to either go to Chile in the fall for pan ams or to Qatar in the winter for the 2024 worlds that no one seems to want to attend hence world aquatics is allocating six qualifying spots from that event

4 months ago

This was by far the worst game i have seen in the 12 seasons under coach Krikorian
Unclear why they played so poorly when they dominated these teams all spring

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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