HIGHLIGHTS: Dominant Win after “Lots of Nerves” for USA Women in Tokyo Opener


“There were lots and lots of nerves,” said Olympic newcomer Stephania Haralabidis after her USA Women’s National Water Polo Team set a short-lived Olympic record, defeating hosts Japan 25-4 on Saturday in their Tokyo opener. The 11-point margin of victory stood as the greatest ever in a women’s Olympic water polo match for a grand total of five hours, after which Spain took down South Africa by a gaudy 29-4 score.

The dominance of the gold-medal favorites wasn’t so clear in the first four minutes of their match at which point Japan drew even at three goals a piece with the slightly befuddled-looking Yanks. That slight jolt quickly converted nerves and confusion in to a brand of resolve highly familiar to fans of the USA women. The team clamped down hard on Japan’s quirky offense and converted their stifling defense in to 14 unanswered goals, holding Japan scoreless for 16 minutes.

Haralabidis and Maggie Steffens finished with five goals each, two of four players with four or more goals. Only Jamie Neushul and Alys Williams went scoreless in the balanced attack.

[Full game replay of USA vs. Japan women’s water polo on NBCOlympics.com]

The Americans next face China, which fell 17-18 to the team from Russia in their opener, on Monday.