Makenzie Fisher prepares to throw the ball in a friendly against the Netherlands on Dec. 18, 2018 in Claremont, Calif.
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Maggie Steffens had the perfect shot opportunity Saturday.
Positioned in front of the Netherlands net in the final moments of the 2018 season, Steffens, USA Water Polo Women’s National Team captain, caught a pass from 2016 Olympic teammate Rachel Fattal and ripped it into the net for her final goal of the year and seventh of a five-game exhibition series in California.
Sisters Kiley and Jamie Neushul each scored three goals for Team USA in Saturday’s 12-3 victory over the Netherlands at El Toro High School in Lake Forest, California.
Team USA swept its way to five victories in the season-ending exhibitions against the Netherlands, which won the 2018 European championship, and China. The U.S. opened the series with a 13-9 win over China on Dec. 14 in Torrance, followed by a 14-2 win in a rematch two days later. Team USA defeated the Netherlands by a combined score of 36-14 over the final three matches.
Aria Fischer, a 2016 Olympian who scored two goals Saturday, led Team USA with nine goals over the five matches. Kiley and Jamie Neushul each scored eight times.
The national team finished the year with a 33-1 record, and won championships in the FINA World Cup, FINA World League Super Final and FINA Women’s Intercontinental Tournament. Its only loss was to Australia in the opening round of the Intercontinental Tournament.
Steffens was one of eight members of the 2016 Olympic gold-medal team playing in the exhibitions this week.
The 2019 season will include the FINA World Championships, FINA World League and the Pan American Games, as well as qualifying for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The U.S. men’s team begins a three-game exhibition series against Italy on Dec. 28 in Santa Ana, California.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.