Steffens breaks water polo scoring record as US women cruise

Jul 29, 2021, 3:21 PM | Updated: Jul 30, 2021, 5:52 am

TOKYO (AP) — Maggie Steffens was finally by herself, all alone with perhaps the best record in women’s water polo, and she had no interest in the view.

Moments after Steffens moved atop the career scoring list at the Olympics, the U.S. captain paid tribute to her family, teammates — past and present — and the women who paved the way for the sport’s addition to the Games in 2000.

It was Steffens’ name in the record book — right next to a whopping 49 goals and counting — but she was determined to have as many people as possible join her on that top line.

“As much as it’s definitely cool and I appreciate it, you can’t have that without teammates,” she said. “You can’t have that without a pass. You can’t have that without being able to play the sport with women who you train with and dream with.”

Steffens took down the record on an all-Stanford connection in the third quarter of Friday’s 18-5 victory over the Russian team, helping the U.S. rebound from a rare loss to Hungary. Makenzie Fischer found a wide-open Steffens in the middle, and ROC goalkeeper Evgenia Golovina never stood a chance.

It was Steffens’ 48th goal in her third Olympics, snapping a tie with Tania Di Mario of Italy for the top spot. Playing with a broken nose after she got hurt against China on Monday, she had four goals on five shots as the U.S. finished group play with a 3-1 record.

“I think what’s more amazing about Maggie, and I’ve said this before, is not the goals that she scores and how many, it’s the efficiency in which she does it,” U.S. coach Adam Krikorian said. “That’s the sign of a great player.”

The 28-year-old Steffens, the youngest of four siblings in a California family with deep roots in water polo, had a breakthrough performance during the London Games, powering the U.S. to its first Olympic title with 21 goals. She pumped in 17 more during another gold medal run in Rio de Janeiro.

While Steffens tried to avoid talking about herself after her record-breaking goal, her teammates had no such issues.

“She’s a very strong worker, offense and defense,” said Stephania Haralabidis, who also had four goals in the win. “She’ll never give up. She’ll keep pushing, and if she’s not the one scoring, she’s going to create opportunities for her teammates to score. So that’s the kind of player she is. She’s so unselfish.”

Steffens’ day and the convincing victory for the U.S. came in the aftermath of the country’s first loss in women’s water polo at the Olympics since 2008, a 10-9 surprise against Hungary on Wednesday.

The loss, dropping the U.S. to 131-4 since it won gold in Rio, led to some soul-searching and a renewed commitment to the way they wanted to play, according to Krikorian. The change was particularly noticeable on the defensive side, led by Ashleigh Johnson’s 16 saves.

“This is an extremely competitive group, and they don’t like to lose,” Krikorian said. “That’s part of the reason why we’ve had the sustained success, is they just take pride in the way they play. I think from frustration to anger to sadness to relief, I think we felt all of those emotions over the last two days.”

Before the U.S. jumped into the pool, the Netherlands routed South Africa 33-1 to move to 2-1 in group play. The Dutch set Olympic records for most goals in a game and biggest margin of victory.

Bea Ortiz scored five times to lead Spain to a 15-9 win over Australia, and Rebecca Parkes had six goals in Hungary’s 17-13 victory over Japan.


Jay Cohen can be reached at


More AP Olympics: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Large advertisements adorn buildings and electronic billboards leading up to the NFL Super Bowl LVI...
Associated Press

Fox sells out Super Bowl ads: crypto out, alcohol in

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox says it has sold out all of its Super Bowl LVII ad space as of the end of January. The big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles takes place on Sunday. The Super Bowl is advertising’s biggest stage, with advertisers jockeying to get their products in […]
1 day ago
Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, in action against Mallorca's goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic durin...
Associated Press

Vinícius Júnior again targeted by racist insults in Spain

MADRID (AP) — The hate attacks against Vinícius Júnior continued in Spain over the weekend, with the Brazil forward again being targeted by racist insults in a league match. The Spanish league said Monday it will investigate the latest attacks after television images showed someone calling him a monkey during Real Madrid’s 1-0 loss at […]
1 day ago
Italy's Federica Brignone speeds down the course during the super G portion of an alpine ski, women...
Associated Press

Brignone leads combined race at worlds; Shiffrin 0.96 behind

MERIBEL, France (AP) — Italian skier Federica Brignone posted the fastest time in the super-G portion of the women’s combined event Monday on the opening day of the world championships, leading defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin by almost a second. Racing under blue skies, Brignone found the fastest line on the Roc de Fer course as […]
1 day ago
FILE - Fans welcome Manchester City players before the start of the English Premier League soccer m...
Associated Press

Man City accused of misleading Premier League over finances

Manchester City was accused by the Premier League on Monday of providing misleading information about its finances over a nine-year period when the club was attempting to establish itself as a force in English and European soccer following its takeover by Abu Dhabi’s ruling family. The explosive development came at the end of a four-year […]
1 day ago
Field hockey players of a local club attend a training session, in Karachi, Pakistan, Sunday, Nov. ...
Associated Press

Sports pitch for level playing field in cricket-mad Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) — On Islamabad’s outskirts, burly men bind together in a scrum on a rugby pitch that has seen better days. The sign bearing the club’s name is worn. The floodlights are too costly to use, given high electricity prices and the paltry $135 total that the club earns in membership fees every month. […]
1 day ago
NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. (19) poses for a photo with the championship trophy after...
Associated Press

Truex wins NASCAR’s sloppy return to Los Angeles Coliseum

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. won NASCAR’s return to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for its season-opening exhibition race — a sloppy Sunday night extravaganza in which the Wiz Khalifa halftime show might have been the most entertaining part of the event. Truex took the lead with 25 laps to go in the […]
1 day ago
Steffens breaks water polo scoring record as US women cruise