Water polo: Neushul sister act may deliver another gold for U.S. at World University Games
It’s a sister act that may help the United States secure its first-ever World University Games gold medal in women’s water polo.
Stanford graduates Jamie and Kiley Neushul lead an American roster into Taiwan on the heels an unprecedented string of victories that includes an Olympic gold from Rio.
Kiley, who is the oldest, scored four goals in the title match to help the U.S. win back-to-back FINA World Championships in Budapest on July 28. For Jamie, it was her first time on a title-winning team with her sister since the two paired for NCAA national championships in 2014 and 2015. (Jamie was a senior on Stanford’s 2017 NCAA Championship team.)
The family’s water polo legacy extended to their grandfather, who played at UCLA. Parents Peter and Cathy also played, as did their uncles and cousins. Their younger sister, Ryann, is also making waves in the sport.
And while their bloodlines crafted similarities, they exhibit different mentalities in the pool.
“Jamie is really poised, even-keeled and relaxed,” Stanford head coach John Tanner said. “Kiley is explosive, fiery, dynamic and emotional.”
It’s that balance of characteristics that make the United States a gold-medal favorite perhaps for the first time at the World University Games.
Women’s water polo has been contested at the Universiade four previous times after being introduced in 2009. The Americans have only medaled once – silver in 2011.
The United States begins its competition Saturday morning in Taiwan (Friday night in the U.S.) against France. Argentina, 2015 World University Games gold medalists Australia, Italy and Greece are among their group play opponents.
The next 24 hours
The United States women’s water polo team begins play against France at 10:20 p.m. ET Friday (10:20 a.m. Saturday in Taiwan).
Opening Ceremonies for the 29th World University Games take place Saturday in Taipei. More than 300 NCAA student-athletes representing more than 70 universities are among national delegations competing for gold, silver and bronze. At total of 131 countries have sent college athletes to compete among the 22 sports in the second-largest multi-sport event behind the Summer Olympics.
A livestream of Opening Ceremonies and select events throughout the World University Games is available here.
The last 24 hours
Women’s soccer: The USA women were shut out by South Korea, 3-0, in their opening match in Group A of the World University Games. Korea’s Seong Mi Kim led off with an 18th minute score followed by two in the second half from Chae Rin Han (66’) and Yeon Hwa Son (81’).
The Americans next challenge will come from France Saturday morning in Taiwan.
Men’s water polo: The U.S. men’s water polo team suffered a 9-8 defeat to Japan in its first match of the Universiade. Long Beach State’s Nolan McConnell scored the second of his two goals in the third quarter to give the Americans a 6-3 lead, but Japan equalized the contest with three goals in four minutes. Pacific’s Benjamin Stevenson and California’s Conor Neumann followed up with two goals for the Americans. Japan owned the fourth quarter, scoring three unanswered.
The USA men next face Russia in the Group D preliminary round match.
Women’s water polo: Team Canada, with nine of its 13 players coming from NCAA schools, claimed a 15-4 win over New Zealand in its Group A preliminary match. The Canadians built a 6-0 first-quarter lead and scored the first 10 goals before the Kiwis reached the scoreboard with 4:06 to play in the third.
Indiana graduate Shae Fournier scored three goals and Pacific’s Kyra Christmas and California’s Kindred Paul each added two.