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Ashleigh Johnson (bottom far right) and the U.S. won gold at the Junior World Championships.
Courtesy: USA Water Polo

Johnson Named Top Goalie, U.S. Wins Gold at FINA Junior World Championships

By: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 08/25/2013
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Princeton rising sophomore Ashleigh Johnson and the U.S. Junior Women’s Water Polo National Team are set to open the 2013 FINA Junior World Championships Monday. The tournament will run from Aug. 19-25 in Volos, Greece and features 15 different countries.

Johnson, who previously spent time with the U.S. Youth National Team, will make her debut with the juniors in Greece. Prior to taking off for the tournament, the goalie spent four weeks in California training after being selected to the squad. During that span, she trained two to three times a week with the team and spent the rest of the time doing individual sessions. The final week of preparation included fulltime training with the entire team of 13 players and two alternates.

“I’m excited going into the games because I can’t wait to play against new people,” said the 2013 ACWPC All-America Third Team selection. “Something that has really surprised me is the way the whole town supports their women’s water polo team. Yesterday we went to the opening ceremony and it seemed like everyone in Volos was there to welcome us players, as well as to cheer on the Greek team.”

The U.S. is in Group 2 and will open the tournament with Kazakhstan (Aug. 19), followed by Italy (Aug. 20) and New Zealand (Aug. 21) to conclude pool play. The qualification, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds run from Aug. 22-24 and the finals will be on Sunday, Aug. 25.


Day One • Aug. 19:

USA defeats Kazakhstan: 14-4

USA: 6 - 2 - 3 - 3 - 14
KAZ: 0 - 1 - 2 - 1 - 4 

Scoresheet

Goal Scorers:

USA: Asley CUROSSNKN 3, Mak Kenzie FISCHER 2, Rachel FATTAL 1, Ciera SCURHOEDER 1, Monica VANIE 1, Sike DANBE 2, Kiley NEUSHUL 3, Emily DONONCE 1
Kazakhstan: Anastassia MIRSHINA 2, Darya ROGA 1, Oxana SAICHUK 1

Saves: Ashleigh JOHNSON (USA) 1

Referees: Svetlana DREVAL (RUS) – Natacha FLORESTAND

Notes: Johnson started in the cage and earned the victory. She had one save and split time with Jillian Yocum.


Day Two • Aug. 20:

USA defeats Italy: 8-5

USA: 1 - 1 - 4 - 2 - 8
ITA: 1 - 0 - 3 - 1 - 5 

Scoresheet

Goal Scorers:

USA: Ashley GROSSMAN 1, Rachel FATTAL 4, Monica VAVIC 1, Kiley NEUSHUL 1, Alys WILLIAMS 1
Italy: Cara DARIO 1, Alessia MILLO 3, Laura REPETTO 1

Saves: Ashleigh JOHNSON (USA) 8

Referees:  Wengenroth (SVI) – Zhang (CHN)

Notes: In a much closer match, Johnson had to command the U.S. defensive line to hold off the Italians. In her second start, the goalie played the entire match and tallied eight saves to improve the Americans to 2-0 in the group stage.


Day Three • Aug. 21:

USA defeats New Zealand: 12-5

USA: 4 - 4 - 2 - 2 - 12
NZL: 2 - 3 - 0 - 0 - 5 

Scoresheet

Goal Scorers:

USA: Ashley GROSSMAN 6, Monica VAVIC 1, Erike DAUBE 1, Kiley NEUSHUL 3, Alys WILLIAMS 1
New Zealand: Rebecca PARKAS 2, Caitlin LOPES da SILVA 2, Kate ENOKA 1

Saves: Ashleigh JOHNSON (USA) 6

Referees: Natasha FLORESTANO (BRA) - Vyecheslav BYELYEVTSOV (UKR)

Notes: The Americans took control of the game early in the first half, as a Johnson-anchored defense limited New Zealand throughout the contest. Johnson started the game and had six saves to bring her total to 15 over the first three matches. She split time in the cage with backup Yocum.

With the win, the U.S. has won the pool stage for Group 2. Team USA now heads into the quartefinals on Friday, Aug. 23 and will face the winner of the Ukraine - Hungary matchup the day before in the qualification round.


Day Five • Aug. 23

Quarterfinals • Video Stream of Match

USA defeats Hungary: 12-10

USA: 2 - 5 - 5 - 0 - 12
HUN: 2 - 2 - 4 - 2 - 10 

Scoresheet

Goal Scorers:

USA: Ashley GROSSMAN 1, Rachel FATTAL 4, Monica VAVIC 3, Eike DAUBE 1, Emily DONOHOE 1, Makenzie BARR 1, Kodianne HILL 1, 
Hungary: Anna Krisztina ILLES 4, Dora ANTAL 2, Ibolya Kitti MISKOLCZI 2, Alexa Anett GEMES 1, Krisztina GARDA 1

Saves: Ashleigh JOHNSON (USA) 13

Referees: Ursula WENGENRORTH (SUI) - Nicola JOHNSON (AUS)

Notes: After having Thursday off, Team USA resumed competition and saw its closest match of the tournament in the quarterfinals versus Hungary. Johnson again started the game for the Americans and earned her second complete game victory behind her 13-save performance to help the U.S. advance to the semifinals and an opportunity to medal. 

The U.S. and Hungary played evenly in the first period with both sides striking twice. Johnson and the defense put together a critical second quarter, limiting the Hungarian offense as the U.S. attack managed to create a three-goal cushion, 7-4, heading into halftime.

Following the break, the Americans' preserved their multi-goal advantage to go up 12-8 entering the fourth. Hungary managed to corral some offensive momentum over the final quarter with a 2-0 run, but Johnson and her defensive line managed to hold off the Hungarians' rally further.

"Our girls came ready for a battle today," said USA head coach Dan Klatt. "We set the tone early and finished." 

Team USA will now play the winner of the Greece – Great Britain matchup in the semifinals on Saturday at 12:45 p.m. ET. There will be live streaming of the match via FINA. To view the streaming, click here.


Day Six • Aug. 24

Semifinals • Video Stream of Match

USA defeats Greece: 10-3

USA: 2 - 5 - 2 - 1 - 10
GRE: 1 - 1 - 1 - 0 - 3

Scoresheet

Goal Scorers:

USA: Mackenzie FISCHER 1, Rachel FATTAL 4, Monica VAVIC 1, Kiley NEUSHUL 1, Emily DONOHOE 2, Alys WILLIAMS 1
Greece: Alkistis Christina BENEKOU 1, Vasiliki DIAMANDOPOULOU 1, Ioanna CHIDIRIOTI 1

Saves: Ashleigh JOHNSON (USA) 10

Referees: Gernot HAENTSCHEL (GER) - Nikola BRASILIANO (ITA)

Notes: Team USA came to play for gold and that is exactly what they will do. Behind a 10-save performance, Johnson helped guide the U.S. to a 10-3 semifinal victory over Greece Saturday at the FINA World Junior Championships.

The Americans will square off with Spain, the winner of the 2011 championship, for the gold medal on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 12 noon ET. A live webcast will be available by clicking here.

The U.S. has made three previous appearances in the final (2001, 2003 and 2005), claiming top honors in 2001 and 2005 in a pair of close wins over Australia. Heading into the Americans’ fourth appearance in the gold medal game, only the Australians have made more with six.

"We controlled the tempo of the game from the start," said head coach Dan Klatt about Team USA’s win over Greece. "We were extremely disciplined on defense and we are excited to start preparing for tomorrow."

The disciplined defensive play was due in large part to Johnson successfully orchestrating the defensive line. As the American backline deflected the Greeks from finding any offensive control, the U.S. attackers took advantage and put Team USA up for good in the first half.

After a close first quarter, the U.S. rattled off on a 5-1 run to go into halftime holding a 7-2 advantage. Greece was unable to respond from its deficit and Team USA closed out the match on a 3-1 rally.


Day Seven • Aug. 25

Finals • Video Stream of Match

USA defeats Spain: 9-7

USA: 2 – 4 – 1 – 2 – 9
Spain: 1 – 1 – 3 – 2 – 7

Scoresheet

Goal Scorers:

USA: Ashley GROSSMAN 1, Makenzie FISCHER 1, Rachel FATTAL 2, Kiley NEUSHUL 3, Emily DONOHOE 2
Spain: Roser TARRAGO AYMERICH 4, Clara ESPAR LLAQUET 3

Saves: Ashleigh JOHNSON (USA) – have not been announced

Referees: Svetlana DREVAL (RUS) – Nicolas BUDRAMIS (GER)

Notes: Ashleigh Johnson’s debut with the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team could not have been scripted better. The Princeton All-America was named Goalie of the Tournament as she led Team USA to a 9-7 victory over Spain to capture the gold medal at the 10th FINA Junior World Championships Sunday. In Team USA’s fourth finals appearance, the Americans were crowned champion for the third time and first since 2005.

Johnson shone versus the top-notch international competition, including 2012 Olympians, over her six starts. Save totals from Sunday’s contest have not been announced, but heading into the game she had amassed 38 saves.

The U.S. held the lead throughout the match versus Spain, building up a multi-goal advantage over the first half. Johnson served as a solid wall in the cage, allowing the offense to establish a 6-2 lead at halftime.

Spain responded with a three-goal rally to open the third quarter, but Johnson remained composed and preserved Team USA’s lead, 7-5.

The Spaniards continued to pressure the U.S. goal, but key stops by Johnson to set up American goals allowed the U.S. to never relinquish its control.

Along with Johnson’s top goalie honors, teammate Rachel Fattal and Spain's Roser Tarrago were named MVP and first scorer, respectively.

Johnson will now return to Princeton next month to begin her sophomore year with consecutive CWPA Eastern Champion Tiger women’s water polo program.

 

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