U.S. Women’s Water Polo Finish Atop Group in World Cup Qualifier

February 24, 2019; UC Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA; Collegiate Women's Water Polo: Barbara Kalbus Invitational: USC Trojans vs Stanford Cardinals; USC Trojans Goalkeeper Amanda Longan Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne
Amanda Longan; Photo courtesy: Catharyn Hayne/USA Water Polo

U.S. Women’s Water Polo Finish Atop Group in World Cup Qualifier

The U.S. Women’s water polo team finished atop its four-team group in the first World Cup qualifier phase this week in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The Americans lost their opening game to Spain, 17-15, in a penalty shootout, on Tuesday, then rallied to handle China, 12-5, and edge Italy, 14-13. With Italy beating Spain, the U.S. finish atop the Group B standings, with Italy second. It’s the first round of qualifying in Division 1, with the U.S. to return to action next week in Greece in a group with Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands. The teams are vying to qualify for the World Cup this summer in Long Beach, Calif.

Jordan Raney led the U.S. in the opener against Spain with three goals. The U.S. led 11-9 after three quarters on Emily Ausmus’ second goals, but Spain rattled off three straight, including two of their seven goals with an extra player and a Bea Ortiz penalty shot with 2:39 left. Rachel Fattal’s second goal of the game with 15 seconds left tied it at 12, and Martina Terre produced the only stop of the shootout, on Maddie Musselman, to send Spain to victory. Ortiz and Judith Forca scored four times each for them.

Musselman and Julia Bonaguidi each tallied hat tricks against China, in a game where the U.S. used a 7-2 edge in the second half to pull away. Ausmus and Maggie Steffens scored twice each. Ashleigh Johnson went the distance in goal.

Steffens and Musselman scored five times each to edge past Italy. The U.S. took a 5-1 edge after one quarter thanks to Steffens’ hat trick, but Italy rallied with six in the second quarter to tie it at 7. Musselman scored with 1:13 left in the half to preserve an 8-7 U.S. edge.

The U.S. led the entire way in the second half, Fattal putting them up 14-11 with 2:13 left. Domitilla Picozzi and Dafne Bettini scored in the final 100 seconds to get Italy within one, but the combination of Amanda Longan in goal and prudent possession late kept the Italians at bay. Picozzi led Italy with four goals. Bettini was one of four players with two each.