Thursday, August 5, 2021

The women of USA Water Polo are going for Gold - for the third time in a row!

Today was a later game for the women of USA Water Polo. Most of the games have been at 2pm here in Tokyo, but today was at 3:30pm. Before the game started, I decided to run over by the USA bench and get some photos of the coaching staff. I have yet to do that, and did not want to do that during a gold medal game.

Adam Krikorian (the head coach) is one of the nicest people, and always smiling. 

I got a couple of individual photos and this one group shot, before the player introductions started and I had to hightail it out of this area.

The game started a little shaky, both offensively and defensively for the Americans. Even Ashleigh Johnson, who is arguably the best female goaltender in the world was a little off for the first half.

At one point, Team USA was down by 3 goals and I was really worried. When these two teams met during the group play, the US easily topped the Russians 18 to 5. And then the women started to get their form.

By the end of the first half, the women started to come back.

The team and everyone else in the building could feel the momentum shifting towards the Americans.

Both offense and defense seemed to click in the third period.

Maddie Musselman was a beast with 5 goals scored in this game. And the women could taste victory.

At the beginning of each quarter, I have been quickly rolling my ISO from 2000 to 100 to slow the shutter speed of the camera. This gives me more motion in the photo, sometimes yielding cool images and sometimes not. In this case, it really worked, with commotion all around the ball, but the ball perfectly sharp in the middle.

Ashleigh was more herself in the third and fourth quarters.

I love the photo of Aria Fischer pumping her fist after scoring a goal. You can see the celebration in her and the defeat in all the Russian athletes surrounding her.

This is not the best photo of Ashleigh, but it shows her making a big stop and really taking control of the game.

The team celebrates big stops by their goaltender as they do for a big offensive play.

Water polo is a really aggressive sport with the swimmers constantly fighting for position.

Here is a photo of the Americans scoring a goal to take a 3 goal lead over the Russian women,

As the clock ticked down to zero, there was no doubt that the team was heading into the final game and guaranteed a silver or gold medal.  The celebration started on the bench...

...and in the pool. I love how the women are celebrating with the ball perfectly positioned (with the logo showing) right next to them. And no, I did not Photoshop that in.

The team got together for a post-game meeting poolside. I texted Maggie Steffens (the captain) while writing this blog and asked her what was said in this huddle. Maggie said that is was basically "One more. Together". I love that!

As the athletes were leaving the pool deck and heading for interviews, I took the time to get some portraits.

I saw Maggie Steffens walking with her teammate, Rachel Fattal, and as they passed the rings, I asked them to stop for a portrait.

After Maddie Musselman was done interviewing with NBC, I offered to take her portrait as well. I think that scoring 5 goals in one game is deserving of a portrait, don't you?


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Ralph Hightower said...

I've been watching water polo and that has to be one grueling sport; having to tread water and be ready to go.

Michael Dziak said...

This is a sport that we don't have in the far north of Buffalo NY. Great shots.