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BULLETIN: July 28, 2017 — Another American women’s team on top of the world

Today, an American women’s national team, playing a regional sport without a domestic professional league, relying in part on talent identified in high school, won a recognized world championship.

The U.S. women’s water polo team today won its fifth FINA World Championship with a 13-6 win over Spain. The United States team, with the win, now holds a unique quintet of trophies: Pan American Games, Olympic Games, World Cup, World League, and today’s World Championships.

A big call has to go to the U.S. water polo selectors and head coach Adam Krikorian. Instead of standing pat with his Olympic lineup, the current U.S. team was the youngest in the entire tournament.

A number of team members actually left their high schools in order to train full-time with the national team. This included Madeline Musselman, whose father Bill went to Harvard before a five-year career in Major League Baseball.

But this team was such a poised bunch under pressure. They used space and strength in equal measure, choosing smart shooting as well as some unconventional finishing in the 2-meter area. In the final, the States’ touchstone goal had to have been the alley-oop pass from Maggie Steffens to the opposite post where Kiley Neushul rose out of the water like a fresh salmon to dunk the ball into the cage.

What’s truly amazing about the States’ current run of form is that the sport’s development in the United States is based upon less than a thousand girls’ varsity programs at U.S. high schools, concentrated mostly in California.

Yet, through good coaching, the Americans are now a dynasty. And this young team can carry through the next Olympic cycle as it matures, something which should scare other water-polo nations to death.

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