U.S. women’s water polo team wins fifth world title

AP
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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — They’ve done it again.

The U.S. women claimed a record-extending fifth world championship in water polo with a 13-6 victory over Spain on Friday.

Kiley Neushul scored four goals to help the two-time Olympic champions win back-to-back titles at the worlds. The pre-tournament favorites had beaten Russia 14-9 in the semifinal. The Russians finished with the bronze medal.

Spain fought to stay even at 3-3 before quick-fire goals from Neushul and Maddie Musselman gave the U.S. breathing room at halftime.

Captain Maggie Steffens added a couple of goals in what turned out to be a comfortable win on the back of strong defense.

U.S. goalkeeper Gabrielle Stone saved seven of 12 shots. Amanda Longan yielded Spain’s other goal.

Musselman had a hat trick, giving her 16 goals for the tournament. Anna Espar Llaquet reached a hat trick for Spain with the game’s final score.

The U.S. had been the first women’s water polo nation to win four worlds, after victories in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2015.

Both sides were backed by an enthusiastic crowd on Budapest’s Margaret Island in the middle of the Danube. Most of the crowd seemed to be from Hungary, whose men’s team plays in the final against Croatia on Saturday night.

The American women returned seven of their 13 gold medalists from Rio. The most notable absentee was No. 1 goalie Ashleigh Johnson, who stepped aside from the national team this year but did wrap up her NCAA career at Princeton.

The U.S. men were eliminated in group play in 13th place overall, their worst-ever finish.

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Correction: An earlier headline erroneously stated the U.S. won a fifth straight world title.