FINA Worlds Is An Opportunity For US Women’s Water Polo To Build On Its Legacy

Maggie Steffens competes during the women’s semifinal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Aug. 5, 2021 in Tokyo.

Steffens knows that this is a big first step on the road to the 2024 Olympic Games Paris.

“Building a team is truly the magic sauce within the journey,” Steffens said. “The only difference is we now only have a few years instead of an entire quad to discover, develop and execute as individuals and as that collective team. So, it is that much more important to truly dive into this process, commit full-heartedly, and realize Paris is just around the corner. ”

The Americans open the tournament Monday at noon ET with Group B action against South Africa, followed by the Netherlands on Wednesday at 1:30 pm ET, and a Friday meeting with Argentina at noon ET.

Should they advance, they would go for a fourth consecutive world title on July 2.

“In order to achieve our goals, we will learn from each game and continue to get better each day, no matter what happened the game or the day before,” said Steffens, of Danville, California. “We will be selfless in our play and be committed to what our team needs at that moment. We will never give up, have fun in the process, and make the most of our opportunity. ”

For the first time, the tournament will take place in four Hungarian cities – Budapest, Debrecen, Sopron and Szeged. The American women will play their Group B games in Debrecen.

“We’re excited to compete in a format that has a new look, being in different cities for the group stage,” Krikorian told FINA.org. “And we are especially thrilled to be back in Budapest for the final few games, in a place that embraces the sport of water polo at the highest level.”

Team USA has faced Spain in the title game at each of the last two world championships and again in Tokyo. The home team, Hungary, could be one to watch as well. Two-time world championships in their history, the Hungarians are coming off a bronze medal in Tokyo.

Continued Growth For The Men’s Team

Expectations aren’t as high for the US men, who have never found their way onto a podium at the world championships. They placed ninth at the event in 2019 and more recently finished sixth at the Olympics. The Americans hope to change that in Budapest.

Coached by Dejan Udovicic, the US has a roster featuring eight Tokyo Olympians and nine players with world championship experience. The US will look to two-time Olympians Alex Bowen and Ben Hallock as well as fellow world championships veterans Hannes Daube, Matt Farmer, Drew Holland, Max Irving, Marko Vavic and Dylan Woodhead.

The Americans are coming off a championship at their Intercontinental Cup in March, where Holland was named the tournament’s top goalie. Chase Dodd, who is making his world championships debut in Budapest, was the MVP finals.

The US plays its first Group D game in Szeged on Tuesday at 1:30 pm ET against Serbia, which won the Olympic gold medal in Tokyo, followed by Kazakhstan and Australia on Thursday and Saturday, both at 1:30 pm ET.

Both the women and men will play crossover round, quarterfinal, semifinal and final games next week. Live streaming of all the games will be available on the FINA Facebook page at facebook.com/fina1908.

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