Streeter Lecka, Getty Images
Member of the U.S. women's water polo team, which won the gold medal on Friday, pose during the medal ceremony at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

O.C. players help U.S. water polo capture more gold


The U.S. women’s water polo team’s global reign reached an historic level Friday with plenty of assistance from Orange County.

Tournament MVP Rachel Fattal (Los Alamitos) scored twice and fellow attackers Courtney Mathewson (Canyon) and Maddie Musselman (Corona del Mar) each added a goal as Team USA defeated Netherlands, 5-4, for the gold medal at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Coach Adam Krikorian’s team became the first team to stand as the reigning champion of the four major championships in international water polo: Olympics (2012), FINA Word Cup (2014), FINA World League Super Final (2015) and FINA World Championships (2015).

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” U.S. assistant coach Chris Oeding (Corona del Mar) told USA Water Polo of the four world titles. “I was involved in the last couple and it’s incredible, and each is unique in its own way. We have so many new kids on the team. It’s their first.”

Princeton goalie Ashleigh Johnson has been one of team’s emerging stars. In the final, she made 12 saves, including one against a penalty shot in the fourth period. She was selected the tournament’s top keeper.

Mathewson, a veteran from the 2012 Olympics, scored the eventual winning goal in the third period as the U.S. team took a 5-3 advantage.

The Americans’ title collection includes the Pan American Games from earlier this summer, making the Huntington Beach-based federation the first to hold the five crowns at once.

The U.S. team included Makenzie Fischer (Laguna Beach), Kaleigh Gilchrist (Newport Harbor) and Alys Williams (Edison).

Team USA’s chance to qualify for the 2016 Olympics arrives in March.

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