RIO DE JANEIRO -- Four years to the day the U.S. Olympic Women's Water Polo Team and Spain met for Olympic gold in London they met again today to begin play at the 2016 Olympic Games. Despite no medals being available the result was a similar one as the USA Women were victorious in convincing fashion claiming an 11-4 victory. Maggie Steffens (Danville, CA/Stanford/NYAC), Courtney Mathewson (Anaheim Hills, CA/UCLA/NYAC) and Kiley Neushul (Goleta, CA/Stanford/Santa Barbara) all scored two goals in the victory with Ashleigh Johnson (Miami, FL/Princeton/NYAC) earning the win in net stopping 11 shots including a penalty shot save. Team USA returns to play on Thursday when they meet China at 11:40am/10:40am et/7:40am pt. The match will air on NBC at 10:40am et (live)/10:40am pt and stream live in all time zones on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports App.
Neushul kicked things off for Team USA with their first two goals, the first of which came less than 30 seconds into the match. She followed with a power play strike with 4:31 to play in the quarter to build a 2-0 lead. Anna Espar put Spain on the board not long after but the United States had an immediate answer with consecutive goals from Maddie Musselman (Newport Beach, CA/Corona del Mar HS/CdM Aquatics) and Kami Craig (Santa Barbara, CA/USC/NYAC) for a 4-1 lead after the first period.
Team USA blew the game open in the second quarter after Rachel Fattal (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/SOCAL) and Mathewson scored in the opening two minutes to make it a 6-1 advantage. Beatriz Ortiz tried to halt the rally scoring for Spain but Makenzie Fischer (Laguna Beach, CA/Laguna Beach HS/SET) came right back with a penalty shot score to give the United States a 7-2 lead at halftime.
In the third Maica Garcia scored the first and last goal of the period but in between that came two scores from Steffens to leave the Americans ahead 9-4 after three periods. The United States defense clamped down in the fourth holding Spain scoreless while Mathewson and KK Clark (Menlo Park, CA/UCLA/NYAC) added goals to give the United States the win 11-4.
The United States went 2/4 on power plays and 2/2 on penalty shots while Spain was 0/8 on power plays and 0/1 on penalty shots. Women's Head Coach Adam Krikorian returned to Rio yesterday after the passing of his brother Blake Krikorian on August 3.