The USA women water polo team dominated their way to an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal win at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The masterful performance of goalie Ashleigh Johnson was a primary factor – she blocked 11 out of 15 shots from the Spanish team.
The superb defense combined with a blistering offense saw the USA women pummel Spain with shot after shot with their goalie blocking just 19%.
The final score was 14 to 5. The Spanish squad was previously undefeated.
Johnson is the first African American female to make the cut for the Olympic team. Even before her stellar performance to win gold, international sports observers have been calling her the “best goalie in the world.” In the gold-game match-up, she displayed extraordinary lunges and across-the-goal blocking while treading water with seeming natural ease.
U.S. Coach Adam Krikorian called Johnson the “ultimate confidence booster” for his team.
The primary offensive weapon for the USA women was Maggie Steffens. She scored three goals in the final game and 18 goals overall in the Tokyo games. Steffens is the only woman water polo player to be the top scorer for the team twice. She netted 21 goals in the 2012 Olympics. Steffens has 56 career goals in the Olympic games.
Also scoring three times was Maddie Musselman. She scored five goals in the semifinal game with ROC. Her play earned her Most Valuable Player honors.
In all, nine players managed to score against silver medalist Spain.
The first goal, drilled by Alys Williams, came in just 30 seconds into the match. Steffens added a second minutes later. Spain fought back with an answering goal but that was beaten back with two more quick goals by Team USA. Rachel Fattal scored with just a second left in the first quarter.
This was a game in which every player contributed. In the second quarter, Makenzie Fisher and Kaleigh Gilchrist nailed power-play goals to quickly push the USA advantage to 6-1. It turns out that the sixth goal would be all they needed.
The third-straight gold medal win has cemented the U.S. Olympic Women’s Water Polo team’s reputation as among the most legendary in sports history. Their play has been a consistent combination of suffocating defense combined with offensive accuracy worthy of Navy SEALs sharpshooters.