The defense of the U.S. women’s water polo team wasn’t quite as dominant as it was in the first two games in Rio, but it didn’t have to be.
The U.S. scored 11 goals, their third game scoring in double digits, and never relented, defeating Hungary 11-6 in their final game of group play.
As long as the U.S. didn’t lose by more than four goals, they were guaranteed the top spot in Group B. That possibility never came close. The Americans never even trailed in the game.
The score was tied at 2-2 at the end of a very physical first quarter, with the U.S. shooting just 2-9 in the starting eight minutes. Their patience and willingness to keep shooting paid off in the second quarter when they outscored Hungary five goals to one to go into the half up 7-3.
Team captain Maggie Steffens had a hat trick in the first half on the way to scoring a game-high four goals. Steffens was trailed by teammates Maddie Musselman who added three goals and Courtney Mathewson who had two.
After shooting poorly in the first quarter, the U.S. redeemed themselves in the second, going 5-9 on shots on their way to a 34.4 percent shooting night. Three of the team’s goals came during extra player situations.
Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson finished with nine saves on 15 shot attempts, and blocked all four of Hungary’s shots from beyond five meters.
With the No. 1 seed locked up, the U.S. will play Brazil in the opening round of the quarterfinals on Monday at 5:20 p.m. ET. If they win that game, they’ll face the winner of Hungary and Australia in the semifinals on Wednesday.