Three Bruins Lead Team USA to Three-Peat in Tokyo
TOKYO -- The U.S. Olympic Women's Water Polo Team completed a three-peat at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with a dominant win in the gold medal game against Spain, 14-5, on Saturday, August 7. It was the largest margin of victory ever in a gold medal match.
All three Bruins started and scored for Team USA, setting the tone early as the U.S. led 4-1 at the end of the first period. Three of the four goals were delivered by Bruins with Alys Williams scoring at the 7:33 mark of the first period. Rachel Fattal set up Maggie Steffens for the second goal of the game (3:36). Then Maddie Musselman scored the first of her game-high three goals (0:43) to put the U.S. up 3-1. Fattal would get in on the scoring, beating the game clock with a goal just before the buzzer (0:01) to give Team USA a 4-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Musselman would net her second goal of the game in the second quarter on a power play (1:56) that put the U.S. up 7-3. Team USA would take a 7-4 lead into the break.
Just like she did in the first half, Williams opened the second half with an early goal, scoring on a power play (7:24) to put the Americans up 8-4. Team USA would continue that momentum by scoring the next four goals to build a 12-4 lead by the end of the third period.
Musselman would complete her hat trick in the fourth period (5:24) with a power play strike to give the U.S. a 13-4 advantage.
For the game, Musselman also contributed three rebounds, one steal, and one field block. Williams finished with two scores and added one field block while Fattal chipped in one goal, one assist, two rebounds, and one field block. Defensively, the U.S. was stellar recording nine field blocks to go with the 12 saves registered by Team USA goalkeepers (Ashleigh Johnson 11, Amanda Longan 1).
The only nation to medal in every Olympic Games featuring women's water polo, Team USA has won gold three times (2012, 2016, & 2020), silver twice (2000 & 2008) and bronze once (2004).
Musselman tied for the team lead with Steffens with 18 goals in the 2020 Olympic Games, which ranked tied for second among all scorers. Musselman also scored 10 goals in the finals (quarterfinal, semifinal, final), which led all scorers in the tournament (one more than the Netherland's Simone van de Kraats, nine goals). Fattal won 18 sprints which was second among all sprinters in the Olympic field. She won eight of those sprints in the finals rounds which ranked second in the tournament as well.
It was the second gold medal for Musselman and Fattal and the first for Williams. Williams was the last player cut for the Rio Olympics in 2016
Adam Krikorian, head coach of Team USA, was part of 15 NCAA Championships while at UCLA as a student-athlete, assistant coach, and head coach with the Bruins' men's and women's water polo teams. He has now guided Team USA to three straight gold medals since taking the helm in 2009.
With the three gold medals won by Bruins with Team USA in women's water polo, UCLA has vaulted into third among U.S. schools with 13 medalists (five gold, six silver, two bronze).