Maddie Musselman Scores Five, U.S. Women’s Water Polo Wins Fourth Straight Title

1 JOHNSON Ashleigh USA Quarter Finals USA - ESP, USA White caps - Spain Blue Caps Women Water Polo FINA 19th World Championships Budapest 2022 Budapest, Alfred Hajos pool 28/06/2022 Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Ashleigh Johnson; Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

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Maddie Musselman Scores Five, U.S. Women’s Water Polo Wins Fourth Straight Title

Behind five goals from the sensational Maddie Musselman, the United States overcame Hungary, 9-7, in the women’s water polo final at the 2022 FINA World Championships.

It’s the fourth consecutive title for the U.S., an unbroken streak dating back to 2015, and seventh overall, since 2003.

Ryann Nueshul added a hat trick. Ashleigh Johnson made 10 saves. Musselman was named the MVP of the final. She joined Johnson, the top goalkeeper of the tournament, on the media all-star team.

It’s the fourth Worlds gold medal for Rachel Fattal, Musselman and Maggie Steffens. (Steffens has three Olympics golds, Fattal and Musselman two each.) Kaleigh Gilchrist, Johnson and Stephania Haralabidis each won their third. It’s the second for Jordan Raney.

Six members of the team won their first Worlds medal, with Neushul joining her sisters Kiley Neushul and Jamie Neushul as World Champions.

Steffens scored the other goal for the U.S., which put them up 4-3 at half after playing catch-up most of the first half. Neushul made it 5-3 after the break, and Musselman and Neushul opened the lead to 7-4 after three quarters. A Neushul goal to start the fourth was all the space that Johnson would need, at an 8-4 lead.

It would get close, with Hungary closing within 8-7. But Musselman buried a penalty shot, the second of the day for the United States, to make it 9-7 and seal the win.

Greta Gurisatti tallied a hat trick for Hungary, and Rita Keszthelyi added two goals. Hungary was just 3-for-11 on power plays.

“We know every time we go into a game with Hungary, we’re going to get their best,” U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said. “They’re a very talented and competitive group. We obviously got a great game today. I’d have to say the difference was out defense. Our defense was phenomenal throughout the entire game. I don’t think we were very pretty offensively, but when you play defense like and you block the ball as well as we did, you’re always going to be in the game.

“And also just our composure. I can’t speak enough of how unfazed we are in difficult situations and moments. It doesn’t get any more difficult than playing in front of five, six thousand Hungarian fans.”

Netherlands defeated Italy, 7-5, for the bronze medal.