U.S. women’s water polo team beats Netherlands for World Championship
The U.S. women’s water polo team won its first World Championship in six years, beating the Netherlands 5-4 in Kazan, Russia, on Friday night and adding to its reigning Olympic, World League and World Cup titles.
The U.S. is the first nation to hold all four crowns simultaneously since women’s water polo was added to the Olympic program in 2000.
The U.S. roster at the World Championship included four players from its 2012 Olympic gold-medal team -- FINA Player of the Year Maggie Steffens, Kami Craig, Courtney Mathewson and Melissa Seidemann.
Rachel Fattal led the Americans with two goals against the Dutch. Maddie Musselman, Kiley Neushul and Mathewson added one each. Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson stopped the Netherlands from evening the score late in the fourth quarter.
Fattal was named tournament MVP, while Johnson was the goalie on the tournament all-star team.
The U.S. previously won World titles in 2003, 2007 and 2009 and lost in the quarterfinals in 2011 and 2013.
The U.S. women still must qualify to defend their Olympic title in Rio. A world qualification tournament takes place in March in the Netherlands, with the top three finishers earning Olympic berths.
The U.S. men’s water polo team, which qualified for the Rio Olympics by winning the Pan American Games in July, was eliminated in the World Championship quarterfinals.
Croatia and Serbia will play for the men’s title at Worlds on Saturday.