By Ava Wallace
TOKYO (WASHINGTON POST) — The element of spontaneity involved in tipping buckets of Gatorade onto coaches’ heads or hoisting them on a team’s shoulders is nice and all, but “nice” is a few dozen pool lengths away from the proper adjective to describe the U.S. women’s water polo team in the gold medal game Saturday, August 7. “Methodical” might suit it better; perhaps “exacting.” So naturally, the players thought to ask Coach Adam Krikorian to remove the cellphone from his pocket before they dumped him into the pool in celebration.
“We always bring him into the water with us,” defender Melissa Seidemann said.
Saturday’s accomplishment was worth a dunking. The United States won an unprecedented third consecutive gold medal with a dominant, 14-5 win over Spain in which nine players scored and goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson kept the team anchored from the back, saving 11 of the 15 shots she faced.
Spain never had a chance after Alys Williams opened the scoring 27 seconds into the game to kick off another dominant performance for the Americans when it counted most. In the group stage, a stumble against Hungary was their first loss in the Olympics since 2008. In the semifinals, they needed a comeback victory over the Russian Olympic Committee to ensure they could continue their streak of medaling at every Olympics since women’s water polo was introduced in 2000.
But the gold medal match felt almost inevitable after they led 4-1 in the first quarter, and the result was no surprise: The United States has won every major international title in women’s water polo since 2014.