World Championships: Ashleigh Johnson Makes 11 Saves as U.S. Tops Spain in Semifinal

Photo Courtesy: Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

World Championships: Ashleigh Johnson Makes 11 Saves as U.S. Tops Spain in Semifinal

On a day where the American offense wasn’t as crisp as usual, Ashleigh Johnson showed why she’s the best goalkeeper in the world.

Johnson made 11 saves as the U.S. hung on for an 11-9 win over Spain in the semifinals of the World Aquatics Championships in Doha. The U.S. will vie to recapture gold on Friday against Hungary, a 13-11 winner over Greece.

The gold medal match is Friday at 9:30 a.m. ET. Spain and Greece will play for bronze at 3:30 am. ET.

The U.S. scored the game’s first three goals and never trailed. The lead was 10-7 after three quarters, and Spain never got closer than two. Spain outshot the U.S., 33-20. The U.S. committed 16 turnovers, nine of them Spanish steals.

That’s why Johnson loomed so large. The goalie came up with four saves in the fourth quarter, including a back-to-back stop on a long possession with three minutes left when the game was 11-8. Spain was held off the board for more than five minutes in the fourth, making Isabel Piralkova’s goal with 1:13 left to finally cut it to two end up as too little, too late.

Jenna Flynn led the U.S. offense with three goals. Jewel Roemer had two goals and two assists. Ryann Neushul and Maddie Musselman scored twice each. Maggie Steffens didn’t attempt a shot but did dish three assists.

Piralkova scored a hat trick, as did Elena Ruiz, though she shot just 3-for-10 from the field. The U.S. held Bea Ortiz and Judith Forca to a combined 0-for-10 shooting. Ortiz did have three assists.

Hungary beat Greece, 13-11, in the penalty shootout. It was the first two-goal lead for either side after halftime. Greece missed its first two shots while Hungary shot 4-for-4, Greta Gurisatti wrapping it up in the fourth round.

Hungary needed a power play goal from Dora Leimeter with 21 seconds left to tie the game and to withstand a late chance by Greece to get to penalties. Alda Magyari made eight saves, including one in the shootout.

Rebecca Parkes shot a perfect 3-for-3 from the field. Krisztina Garda added three goals. Leimeter and Dorottya Szilagyi scored twice each. Eirini Ninou led Greece with four goals.

The U.S. is seeking its eighth gold medal at Worlds. A run of four straight was interrupted last year. The U.S. beat Hungary in the 2022 final in Budapest. Hungary is looking for its first gold since 2005.

The Netherlands defeated Italy, 10-5, in classification games. The 2023 World Champs will take on Australia, a 10-8 winner over Canada, for fifth place.

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