GWANGJU, South Korea (Reuters) – The United States won a record-extending sixth women’s water polo title at the World Aquatics Championship after an 11-6 win over Spain in a lop-sided final on Friday.
The contest was almost a carbon copy of the 2017 gold-medal match when the Americans beat the Spaniards 13-6, as Kylie Neushul led the way with three long-range goals for the winners.
Both teams had already secured Olympic berths by reaching the final while Australia won the bronze medal after edging Hungary 10-9 in the day’s thrilling curtain-raiser.
Spain held their own in the opening exchanges and drew level at 1-1 and 3-3 before the holders scored six unanswered goals thanks to a lethal offence, coupled with superb goalkeeping from Ashleigh Johnson.
The Americans moved up a gear after Roser Tarrago netted Spain’s third goal and Neushul’s second strike from distance gave the Olympic champions an insurmountable 9-3 lead at the end of the third quarter.
They took their foot off the pedal in the final period as Tarrago also finished with three goals for Spain, with Beatriz Ortiz adding two for the 2013 world champions.
Australia raced into an early 3-0 lead against the Hungarians, who turned the tide with four goals and stayed ahead until Hannah Buckling and Bronwen Knox gave the Australians a 7-6 halftime lead.
A pair of Bronte Halligan goals fired Australia into a commanding 10-7 advantage in the fourth quarter but they were forced to hang on in the last 90 seconds after Rita Keszthelyi reduced the deficit to 10-9.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Toby Davis)