Some vital facts about today’s gold medal water polo match between the defending champion USA women, and Italy as compiled by NWA.
- The teams have met four times in Olympic competition, the first was in the 2004 semis which the Italians won toward winning a gold medal.
- The U.S. won six straight meetings between the two countries until a group stage game at the 2015 world championships. The U.S. went on to win the tournament and have won every game they’ve played since, going 21-0.
- The U.S. is the only team to have won a medal in every Olympics where women’s water polo has been played.
- Despite the winning streak, the U.S. has only four players returning from the 2012 Olympic championship team, the fewest of any team in the final four this year.
- Eight U.S. players are under 23 years of age. At 17, Aria Fischer is the youngest and will become the youngest U.S. Olympic water polo medalist, and the youngest women’s water polo medalist from any country.
- Italy returns seven players from their 2012 squad that finished seventh in London. Only one has won a medal in an Olympic Games – captain Tania di Mario was on the 2004 team that won gold.
- Italy earned bronze at the 2015 world championships and at the European championships in January 2016.
- Rio will be Italy’s first final in a major competition since 2014.
Friday’s women’s water polo gold medal match will pit the U.S., the defending gold medalists, against Italy, the 2004 gold medalists and the last team to defeat the U.S. more than a year ago. No matter who wins Friday, they’ll become the first country to win more than one women’s water polo gold medal.
- U.S. captain Maggie Steffens leads all women players with 16 goals in five games in Rio scoring in over 72% of her attempts.
- Team USA has had nine different players score in each of the last two games.
- Eighteen year old Maddie Musselman has scored 11 times at the Rio games.
- Italy’s Arianna Garibotti and Roberta Bianconi scored two goals on five shots in the quarterfinals against China, and followed that with a five goal effort on six shots against Russia in the semifinals.
- Bianconi scored two goals in each game against China and Russia to bring her total to 11 in Rio.
- For the Rio Games, Ashleigh Johnson has 42 saves and a 63 percent save percentage.
- Italy’s Giulia Gorlero has been just as strong, if not stronger. Gorlero has double-digit saves in every Rio game except one. She’s stopped 56 shots and has a 65 percent save percentage.
- Italy’s defense is only allowing 6.2 goals per game in Rio.