By JAY COHEN, AP Sports activities Author
TOKYO (AP) — Maddie Musselman held her telephone out, and the U.S. girls’s water polo group gathered for an image on the highest step of the rostrum.
It was a well-known scene. The dynasty is alive and properly.
Musselman scored thrice, Ashleigh Johnson made 11 saves and the U.S. gained its third consecutive gold medal on Saturday, routing Spain 14-5 within the remaining on the Tokyo Olympics.
“We’re having enjoyable on the market, and I believe you may see that at the moment,” Musselman mentioned. “Everybody introduced their greatest when their greatest was wanted.”
Aria Fischer, Kaleigh Gilchrist and Alys Williams had two targets apiece because the U.S. improved to 134-4 because it gained gold on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Video games. It broke its personal data for many targets and largest margin within the remaining.
Maggie Steffens and Melissa Seidemann grew to become the primary girls to win three gold medals in water polo. Musselman was named MVP, and Johnson was chosen as the highest goalkeeper of the event.
The day belonged to the U.S. — once more.
“Within the moments the place you wish to be at your greatest, it is prefer it’s simply magic when it occurs,” Johnson mentioned. “However … we’re placing within the work day by day.”
After falling 10-9 to Hungary in group play in its first loss on the Olympics because the 2008 remaining, the U.S. ripped off 4 straight wins by a mixed rating of 63-26.
“I believe this group loves competitors, so we wish the toughest video games and the toughest moments,” Gilchrist mentioned.
The U.S. joins the boys’s groups from Britain (1908-1920) and Hungary (2000-2008) as the one nations to win not less than three straight water polo titles on the Olympics. It’s the solely group to medal in every of the six girls’s tournaments on the Video games.
Maica Garcia had two targets for Spain, which has misplaced 13 in a row towards the U.S., together with the finals of the 2017 and 2019 world championships. The silver medal matches the nation’s greatest end within the girls’s competitors.
“We gave all of it. That is all we may do,” mentioned Roser Tarrago, combating again tears.
Garcia, Tarrago, Anni Espar, Laura Ester, Pili Pena and Marta Bach additionally have been on Spain’s roster when it misplaced to america within the remaining on the 2012 Olympics, they usually regarded primed for revenge in Tokyo. The reigning European champions had gained 5 of six, outlasting Hungary within the semifinals.
As a substitute, Spain was pushed apart by the U.S. as soon as once more.
“Destroyed. I actually wished this gold and I can solely say congratulations to the USA,” Espar mentioned. “They performed a tremendous recreation.”
Steffens and firm saved their greatest for final — like they typically do. The Individuals have been shaken by their loss to Hungary, however they regrouped with their depth and protection.
Six U.S. gamers scored on the best way to a 7-4 halftime lead. Spain didn’t get its first purpose till there was 2:15 left within the first quarter.
When the U.S. ripped off 5 straight targets within the third, it was throughout. Johnson took a seat on the bench with 2:35 left, and the get together was on.
“We’ve talked quite a bit in regards to the superb line between confidence and complacency, however we’ve completed only a unbelievable job of simply staying targeted via this course of,” coach Adam Krikorian mentioned, “and it’s wonderful.”
When it was over, Johnson and Krikorian embraced, and Krikorian finally was dumped into the pool by Gilchrist for a fast swim.
“It wasn’t only one participant. It wasn’t two gamers,” Steffens mentioned. “You search for on there and we had totally different individuals getting blocks, totally different individuals getting big targets right here, totally different individuals guarding and to see such a full group on the finish of this simply makes me really feel actually proud to be part of it.”
Hungary earned the nation’s first medal in girls’s water polo, beating the Russian group 11-9 for bronze.
Captain Rita Kesthelyi had two targets for Hungary, which completed fourth in every of the previous three Video games.
Kesthelyi’s father, Tibor, performed water polo for Hungary within the 1988 Olympics, and she or he mentioned her mom was among the many first girls to play the game in her nation. Rita Kesthelyi fought again tears when requested in regards to the significance of the bronze medal.
“I am certain everybody may be very, very pleased with us and blissful that we obtain this,” she mentioned. “It is an enormous step in our historical past.”
Jay Cohen might be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
Extra AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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