The U.S. Olympic women’s water polo team will face Russia Thursday at Cathedral Catholic High School to begin a three-match series, its final matches before the Olympic Games.
The U.S. is first in rankings compiled by FINA, the international governing body for aquatics. It has won every major tournament since 2014, including the FINA World Championship, FINA World Cup, Pan American Games title and three FINA World League Super Final titles.
“When you’ve had the success that we’ve had, you worry about complacency, you worry about being too confident,” U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said.
“One thing that comes to mind is just that we continue to be humble enough to prepare but confident enough to perform, and I think that’s really our focus moving forward to strive and get better.”
The U.S. is 28-2 this year, including a 14-7 victory over Russia in a quarterfinal match of the FINA World League Super Final June 10 in Shanghai.
The U.S. went on to win the tournament, while Russia, which has also qualified for the Olympics, finished sixth.
The 13-player U.S. team consists of four members of the gold medal-winning 2012 team and nine first-time Olympians.
“We have a really incredible, special group,” said team captain Maggie Steffens, a member of the 2012 team. “I can easily talk about each one in the athleticism, talent and skill that they have individually and what we have as a team, but it’s more than that.
“It takes more than that to get to be on this stage today and the Olympic stage and it’s the toughness that this group has and the determination, dedication, the sacrifices we’ve all made. And we work pretty darn well together.
“The teamwork that this group has is probably the best that I’ve ever been a part of. And I hope that with the teamwork we have in the water and the fun we have when we play can inspire anyone that watches us play.”
The game is being played at Cathedral Catholic High School because its boys’ water polo coach, Brett Ormsby, a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic men’s water polo team, volunteered to host a match in the area, a USA Water Polo official said.
The match will begin at 6 p.m. and be live-streamed at facebook.com/USAWP.
The U.S. will begin play in the Olympics on Aug. 9 against Spain on the fourth anniversary of its 8-5 victory over Spain to win the gold medal at the London Olympics.