U.S. women’s water polo team to play for Olympic gold in Tokyo

Corona del Mar High School graduate Maddie Musselman scored five goals for Team USA in its semifinal win at the Olympics.
Corona del Mar High School graduate Maddie Musselman, shown shooting in an exhibition match on May 19, scored a match-best five goals for Team USA in its comeback semifinal victory at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)
Share via

Maddie Musselman and the United States Olympic women’s water polo team surged to the finish line Thursday against the Russian Olympic Committee.

Now just one match remains in Team USA’s quest for its third straight Olympic gold.

Musselman, a Corona del Mar High School product, scored four of her five goals in the second half as Team USA rallied for a 15-11 win over ROC in a semifinal match in Tokyo.

The U.S. will play Spain for the gold medal at 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning Pacific time, which is 4:30 p.m. Saturday local time in Tokyo. The match will be broadcast on the USA Network and the NBC Sports app.


Team USA had beaten ROC 18-5 in a group play match earlier in the tournament, but the Russians came out strong in the semifinal in building a 7-4 lead late in the first half. But Musselman scored, followed by a big goal by Corona del Mar High girls’ water polo coach Melissa Seidemann with a second remaining in the half.

Still down by a goal at halftime, Team USA scored nine goals in the second half, including four by Musselman.

“When you’re a shooter, you’ve got to shoot,” U.S. coach Adam Krikorian told reporters after the match. “That’s your job. When the opportunity exists, you can’t hesitate. She didn’t hesitate tonight. No matter how many shots you missed before, you got to go with the same courage, the same aggressiveness and she did that. She was huge for us, especially in the second half.”

Team captain Maggie Steffens added three goals for the Americans and Makenzie Fischer, a Laguna Beach High graduate, added two goals. CdM graduate Stephania Haralabidis, Laguna Beach alumna Aria Fischer and Edison graduate Alys Williams added one goal each.

Team USA now prepares for its fourth straight gold medal match. The Americans have played Spain once this year, an 18-9 victory at the FINA World League Super Final in Athens on June 16.

Musselman, the Fischer sisters and Newport Harbor High product Kaleigh Gilchrist are all trying to win their second straight gold medal. It took a semifinal rally to get it done.

“You probably saw the passion that comes with not only scoring goals but getting stops on defense,” Musselman said after the match. “It’s huge when we’re able to do that. Every piece goes together. It’s not just one person making a block. It’s what happened right before that. You can feel the energy ricocheting off each other. That’s special and I don’t know if all teams have that.”


Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.

For more sports stories, visit or follow us on Twitter @DailyPilotSport.