U.S. water polo briefly makes history in blowout


The U.S. women’s water polo team made Olympics history with its dominant 25-4 win over host Japan in its opening match of the Tokyo Games, but its record stood for only a couple of hours as Spain’s team then recorded its own one-sided record-breaking victory.

Spain’s 29-4 victory over South Africa is now the biggest winning margin in women’s water polo at the Olympics as the Spanish team surpassed Team USA’s comfortable opening triumph earlier on Saturday.

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Team USA’s 25-4 win over hosts Japan toppled a number of records at the Games as the team starts the chase for a third consecutive gold medal in women’s water polo. In what the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) called the “most prolific offensive attack in Olympics history,” the victory saw the U.S. score 25 goals (surpassing the 16 scored by China and Australia at the London Games in 2012) and 14 goals in a half, four more than the previous record of 10.

The 21-point victory also overtook Australia’s 16-3 win over Great Britain in 2012 as the most one-sided win in Olympics history. Maggie Steffens and Stephanie Haralabidis scored five goals each — Steffens scored just 21 seconds into the match — and Madeline Musselman and Aria Fischer scored four apiece. Paige Hauschild and Kaleigh Gilchrist grabbed two each, with nine U.S. players scoring overall. At the other end, Ashleigh Johnson stopped 15 of 19 shots.

But then Spain faced South Africa later in the day and overtook the U.S. with victory by a 25-goal margin. The 29 goals it scored overtook Team USA’s effort of 25 earlier in the day, and its 15-goal haul in the second half just edged the 14 the U.S. racked up in the first half against Japan.

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