Members of the U.S. women's water polo team pose with their gold medals at the 2016 FINA Women's World League Super Final on June 12, 2016 in Shanghai.
The United States women’s water polo team continued its winning ways, defeating Spain 13-9 Sunday to claim the gold medal at the 2016 FINA Women’s World League Super Final in Shanghai.
Since the tournament began in 2004, the U.S. women have made it to the gold-medal match all but two times, in 2005 when they did not medal at all, and in 2013, when they won bronze. The Americans have now won 10 of the 13 editions and have medaled in the last 11 (they won silver in 2008). Spain picks up its first Super Final medal, topping its best prior showing of fourth in 2009.
Holding a 3-2 lead after the first eight minutes, the Americans doubled up the Spaniards in the second quarter to take a 7-4 advantage into halftime. The two sides each managed three goals in the third period, but the U.S. was able to close out by scoring one more than Spain in the final stanza for the 13-9 final tally. Five of Spain’s goals came with the U.S. down a player, while the Americans converted six of nine power plays.
“We were happy that we played a consistent final today,” said U.S. head coach Adam Krikorian afterward. “We were very efficient offensively, but we still could be better on defense. We were happy with the victory.”
The Americans are targeting history in Rio, attempting to become the first women’s team to successfully defend an Olympic title. They made history last year by becoming the first to concurrently hold all four major water polo championships: Olympics, world championship, World Cup and World League.
Courtney Mathewson was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. The U.S. outscored its opponents 81-41 in six games.
Earlier Sunday, Australia defeated China in the bronze medal match, 10-3.
USA Water Polo will announce the 2016 U.S. Olympic Women’s Water Polo Team Thursday at the LA84 Foundation office in Los Angeles.