It was nearly déjà vu for the U.S. women’s water polo team Thursday morning. On Tuesday they defeated Spain 11-4 in their Rio Games opener. That score was nearly the final again Thursday when the U.S. faced off against China, but they actually did themselves one better.
Maddie Musselman scored an extra player goal from center pool in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter to extend the U.S.’s lead and defeat China 12-4 to improve to 2-0 in the Rio games.
Musselman tied teammate Maggie Steffens with four goals on the day. Kaleigh Gilchrist added two more, and Makenzie Fischer and Kami Craig also had goals to round out the scoring for the Americans, who shot 54.5 percent on the night.
Team captain Steffens may have been quiet in the first half on Tuesday, but she made her presence known early and often Thursday morning. Steffens scored her first goal just 28 seconds into the game on a cross-pool pass, and scored three more times on three shot attempts before the day was done.
For as efficient as the offense was, the defense was just as dominant. Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson, who had 11 saves in the game against Spain, had eight Thursday on 12 shot attempts in three quarters she played. Sami Hill was just as strong in her quarter in the goal, stopping three shots that came her way and allowing just one goal.
Defensively, the U.S. added eight steals and six blocked shots. China went nearly 13 minutes without a goal starting at the end of the first quarter.
The win keeps the U.S. at the top of Group B with one game remaining in group play. They’ll face Hungary Friday at noon ET. China (0-2) will look for their first win Friday against Spain at 8 a.m. ET.