Women’s water polo quarterfinals preview

Women's water polo quarterfinals preview

Ashleigh Johnson

With just eight teams in the women’s water polo field, all teams were guaranteed a spot in the quarterfinals. U.S. center back K.K. Clark said the Rio Games are basically split into two different tournaments – and the second begins Monday with the semifinals.

“The next three matches are do or die, so we’re trying to distinguish them and play two tournaments,” Clark said after Saturday’s game against Hungary. “We’re happy with our performances but we know we can do better. The first tournament is over. We did well. We can’t get too happy because the next games are going to be way harder.”

The U.S. was the No. 1 seed in Group B, and continue their gold medal Monday in the first game of the semifinals at 1:10 p.m. ET against Brazil.

Here’s a look at the rest of the water polo quarterfinal matchups.

Game 1 – United States vs. Brazil, 1:10 p.m. ET

The United States (3-0) had no trouble in their first three games of group play, scoring 34 goals while only allowing 14. Brazil had the exact opposite problem, allowing 33 goals while only scoring 13 of their own.

The Americans are shooting 44 percent in the tournament. Captain Maggie Steffens leads the U.S. with 10 goals scored in 14 shots. Newcomer Maddie Musselman has also proved to be an offensive force, scoring eight goals on 15 shots.

Despite the scoring prowess, the U.S.’s key to victory has been their defense. Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson has saved 28 shots on 42 attempts for a 66 percent save percentage. The U.S. has also picked up 23 steals and 10 blocks in three games.

Brazil (0-3) has struggled in the Rio Games, coming away with just 13 goals in three games. Leading scorer Izabella Chiappini had six goals, including four in one game.

Goalkeepers Tess Oliveira and Victoria Chamorro have combined for 27 saves on 60 shots.

Game 2 – Australia vs. Hungary, 2:30 p.m. ET

Australia (2-1) heads to the quarterfinals as the No. 2 seed in Group A, while Hungary (1-2) is the No. 3 seed.

Australia balanced scoring attack is led by Rowie Webster who’s scored seven goals on 15 shots so far in Rio. Webster is trailed by Ash Southern who has six goals and Keesja Gofers who has five.

Goalkeepers Kelsey Wakefield and Lea Yanitsas have saved a combined 53 percent of shot attempts. As a team Australia has 22 steals and eight blocked shots.

Most see Australia as the biggest threat to the United States, and could face them in the semifinals. However, first they’ll have to get through Hungary, who is shooting 35 percent as a team, putting up 29 goals in three games.

Top scorers Rita Keszthelyi and Barbara Bujka have six and eight goals, respectively.

Game 3 – Russia vs. Spain, 5:20 p.m. ET

The No. 3 seed in Group A Russia (1-2) struggled in group play, scoring just 23 goals while allowing 31.

Goalkeepers Anna Ustyukhina and Anna Karnaukh have combined for just 18 saves on 49 shots attempts.

Ekaterina Prokofyeva leads Russia with five goals scored in Rio.

Spain has been much stronger in the Rio games, with six different players scoring at least two goals in a match so far. They’re shooting 34 percent as a team.

Even though Spain has scored 27 goals, they’ve allowed 29. Spanish goalkeeper Laura Ramos has a 41 percent save percentage in the Rio games.

Game 4 – Italy vs. China, 6:40 p.m. ET

Italy is the only other undefeated team left in Rio, going a perfect 3-0 in group play. Though they’ve only scored 27 goals as a team, they’ve also only allowed 15, tied for second lowest among all teams.

As a team, Italy is shooting 32 percent from the field. Roberta Bianconi leads all Italians with seven goals.

Italy’s top player has been goalkeeper Giulia Gorlero, who has double-digit saves in all three games. She has a 70 percent save percentage, highest among all goalkeepers.

Gorlero will be a difficult match for Group B No. 4 seed China, who’s scored just 23 goals in Rio. As a team, China (0-3) is shooting just 26 percent as a team.

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