By Craig Bohnert | March 26, 2016, 8:02 a.m. (ET)


Powered by six goals from Makenzie Fischer, the U.S. women’s water polo team has qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics by defeating France 19-0 in Saturday’s quarterfinal round of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Gouda, Netherlands.

Team USA will look to defend its London 2012 Olympic gold medal, which was the first on Olympic history for a U.S. men’s or women’s team. Last year, the U.S. women became the first team in history to hold the Olympic, world championships, World Cup and World League titles at once.

The Americans took control of their quarterfinal match goal just 22 seconds in as Fischer scored the first U.S. goal. Fischer had a hat trick in the first four minutes and the U.S. was rolling, 4-0, on the way to a 5-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The goals kept coming in the second quarter as the U.S. turned the quarterfinal contest into something more like a clinic, unselfishly passing to set up shots and playing rock-solid defense. Fischer scored her fifth goal of the contest with 44 seconds left to give the U.S. a 12-0 advantage going into halftime.

The third quarter was more of the same offensively as the Americans were scoring at will. If there was a difference, it was in the tenacity of the U.S. defense, which continually kept the French perimeter pushed back. Maggie Steffens, the most valuable player of the 2012 Olympic tournament, added to her stat line with back-to-back goals to make the margin 15-0 at the end of the third quarter.

Fischer led the U.S. with six goals, while Steffens added four and Aria Fischer had three. Kiley Neushul, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Kami Craig, Courtney Mathewson and Melissa Seidemann each scored one goal.