The retirement of “the most decorated goalkeeper in women’s water polo history” in July could have been a source of angst for a US Women’s National Team heading in to a brutal season of high level competition. Any such fear was surely wiped away after Team USA completed a triumphant summer by winning two world championships and now boasting the two best goalkeepers in the world in their age groups.
The Women’s Youth Team went undefeated on the way to victory in the FINA World Women’s Youth Championships in Madrid on Sunday. US goalkeeper Carlee Kapana anchored the team’s stubborn defense throughout their six wins culminating in a 5-4 victory over rivals Canada in the gold-medal match. Kapana, a Newport Harbor High School senior, was named the tournament’s most valuable goalkeeper just two weeks after Princeton’s Ashleigh Johnson earned the same honor at the senior women’s world cup in Russia.
Laguna Beach HS sophomore Aria Fischer scored four and her sister, Makenzie, one in the final game. The siblings were Team USA’s offensive stars tallying 32 of its 78 tournament goals. Aria tossed in eight of the 20 goals scored in the team’s final three knockout matches.
The victory caps a year of unprecedented success for the US women’s programs two summers after the senior team earned its first Olympic gold medal. In July the youth team also won gold at UANA Junior Pan American Championship; the senior team scored a trifecta in 2014 earning titles at the FINA World Cup, the Kirishi Cup, and the FINA World League Super Final. The combined titles have highlighted depth in the pool of American female talent, especially among goalies, that has likely been unseen since the sport’s late 70s roots.
As with the men the USA women now go on hiatus for the remainder of 2014. The women’s NCAA season will begin in March of 2015.