Maggie Steffens scored five goals in a 22-7 rout of New Zealand on Thursday as the U.S. women’s water polo team wrapped up group play undefeated at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.
With the 3-0 record and first-place finish in Group B, the Americans clinched a bye into the quarterfinals.
Steffens, a two-time Olympic champion and the MVP of the 2012 Olympic tournament, led a 10-woman scoring parade for the Americans, who will play next in the quarterfinals Monday against a yet-to-be determined opponent. The medal round, should the U.S. advance, is a week from Friday.
Team USA jumped out to a 4-0 lead with goals from four different players, went to 7-3, and jumped to 10-3 on three straight goals by Maddie Musselman, who like Steffens earned a gold medal with the U.S. team at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
The top-ranked U.S. women opened the tournament with a 24-2 win over South Africa on Sunday and a 12-8 win over Spain on Tuesday before the explosive win over New Zealand on Thursday.
Jamie Neushul led Team USA with six goals against South Africa, while Melissa Seidemann had five. Musselman and Kiley Neushul each had three goals against Spain. Gabby Stone has played all three games in goal, though she split time with Amanda Longan against South Africa and New Zealand.
The U.S. women are in the midst of a dominant stretch that includes the last two Olympic gold medals as well as the 2015 world title.