US women’s water polo defeats Hungary, advances to gold medal game

Game 4 – USA 14, Hungary 10

Forty-four seconds. That’s how long the U.S. women’s water polo team trailed Hungary Wednesday.

Those 44 seconds are the only time the U.S. has trailed at all during the Rio Games, and it came in the first quarter with 3:59 when Hungary took a 2-1 lead.

The U.S. answered 44 seconds later on a long-range goal by Melissa Seidemann, and retook the lead 1:30 later on a goal by captain Maggie Steffens with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter.

And the Americans never looked back. The U.S. went on score 11 more goals and defeat Hungary 14-10 to advance to their second straight gold medal game.

The two scores in the first quarter was the only time in the game the U.S. allowed Hungary to score back-to-back goals. They outscored Hungary in every quarter except the fourth, when both teams scored two goals each.

Steffens led the U.S. with four goals on five shots to add to her team lead in goals scored in Rio. Steffens leads all women’s players with 16 goals, and is converting 72.7 percent of her shots.

The U.S. shot 50 percent on the day, and matched their nine player goal scoring output from the quarterfinals with nine different players scoring a goal again Wednesday. Maddie Musselman and Kiley Neushul also had two goals each.

Wednesday was the first game goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson saved less than 60 percent of shots her way, but she still came away with eight saves, including four on six shots from beyond five meters.

Rita Keszthelyi had four goals to lead Hungary, and teammate Barbara Bujka added two goals.

The return trip to the gold medal game will be the U.S.’s fourth time fighting for gold in five Olympic appearances. The U.S. is looking to become the first women’s water polo team to win back-to-back gold medals. They have officially medaled in every Olympics women’s water polo has been a part of.

Hungary will return to the bronze medal match for the third straight Olympics. They previously lost their last two chances at a medal.

The gold medal game between the U.S. and Italy will take place Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET. The bronze medal game between Hungary and Russia will be Friday at 10:20 a.m. PT.

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