The U.S. women’s water polo team is on the verge of a second consecutive and fifth overall FINA World Championship title after a 14-9 semifinal win on Wednesday over Russia in Budapest, Hungary.
They will now face Spain, who defeated Canada in Wednesday’s second semifinal, for the gold medal on Friday, hoping to continue their run of dominance that also includes Olympic gold medals in 2012, 2016, Pan American Games gold in 2015 and other marks of distinction.
Rachel Fattal led all scorers with five goals on six shots, while Maddie Musselman wasn’t far behind with four goals on five shots. Maggie Steffens added another three goals to lead the U.S. through to the final game.
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Russia took a 2-0 lead with 4:42 to go in the first quarter, but by the top of the second Fattal had a hat trick and the U.S. had a 5-4 lead. Team USA scored to open the second quarter and Russia answered, but that was the last goal they would score that half. As Fattal added another to her total and Musselman totaled four goals of her own, the U.S. took an 11-5 lead into halftime.
After a 2-2 third quarter, Russia opened the final frame with a goal and scored again to make it 14-9 with five minutes remaining. But they never got any closer as the U.S. saw the game out.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.