Goalie gang: Longan, US women beat Canada 16-5 in quarters

Aug 2, 2021, 1:07 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2021, 6:34 am

TOKYO (AP) — Amanda Longan knows the deal. She is one of the world’s best goalkeepers sitting behind the world’s best goalkeeper in women’s water polo.

So she waited patiently for an Olympic debut that she knew might never come. She was active for two U.S. games in group play, but didn’t get in. Coach Adam Krikorian put her back on the roster for the quarterfinals, and this time, it worked out.

Longan relieved Ashleigh Johnson and played the fourth quarter as the U.S. rolled into the semifinals of the Tokyo Games with a convincing 16-5 victory over Canada. She finished with three saves on five shots and an experience that she will never forget.

“Honestly, I thought when I would get my chance I would be super, super nervous,” Longan said. “But honestly, today, I was just more happy and grateful to have that time than anything.”

Maggie Steffens, Makenzie Fischer and Alys Williams each had three goals as the U.S. stayed in the hunt for its third consecutive gold medal. The Americans improved to 21-1 this year, with their lone loss coming against Hungary last week.

The men’s teams from Britain (1908-1920) and Hungary (2000-2008) are the only countries to win at least three straight water polo titles at the Olympics.

“I think it’s been a different level after that Hungary game,” Krikorian said. “This doesn’t guarantee us anything, but it was a little bit of awakening for us and just got back to, again, the fundamentals and just playing the right way.”

Spain, the Russian team and Hungary also won Tuesday. Judith Forca Ariza scored four times to lead Spain to an 11-7 victory over China. The Russians held off Australia for a 9-8 win, and Hungary topped the Netherlands 14-11 in a dramatic finish.

“Intense. Extremely intense,” Hungary player Rebecca Parkes said. “I mean we knew this was going to be exactly this hard.”

Dorottya Szilagyi and Dora Leimeter scored in the final 39 seconds to help close it out. Hungary goalkeeper Alda Magyari hit her left hand on the cage in the final minute, but she stayed in and said she was fine after the win.

Hungary will take on Spain in Thursday’s semifinals, and the U.S. will face the Russian team.

Longan quickly ditched her sandals when Krikorian gave her the go-ahead, and she shot Johnson a wide grin after she jumped into the water. Johnson helped Longan warm up before taking a seat on the bench to cheer her on.

“It’s so cool. Like goalie gang,” Johnson said. “It’s always supporting that girl, seeing the work that she puts in day in and day out, and the way that we push each other and help each other grow in this sport.”

Longan, 24, led Southern California to NCAA titles in 2016 and 2018. She also won the Cutino Award winner in 2018, given to the nation’s top collegiate water polo player.

Longan isn’t used to watching someone else play — but the U.S. also has the athletic Johnson, who made 14 saves against Canada.

“It’s weird, but I knew coming into this tournament that that’s kind of how it was going to be anyways,” Longan said. “I didn’t know when I would get my opportunities, I didn’t know if I would get my opportunities. But I just had a good feeling they would come. But it’s really weird, there’s just no way around it.”

It could have been a tricky situation for Krikorian to manage, but Johnson and Longan have made it work with a relationship based on the talent they see in each other, and an overwhelming desire to help the team win.

“If we didn’t get along, I still think that the respect that we have for each other would overrule the potential awkwardness,” Johnson said. “But we have a good relationship.”

Krikorian had been looking for a spot for Longan since the tournament started. But he never had a chance during her two games on the bench in a group play; a tight 12-7 victory over China, and Wednesday’s 10-9 loss to Hungary.

In Krikorian’s first Olympics as U.S. coach in 2012, he did not get backup goalkeeper Tumua Anae Tavana into a game — something he carries with him to this day. He called Tavana “one of my favorite players and people of all time.”

Sami Hill played behind Johnson at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, and now Longan has her first Olympic appearance.

“Amanda is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever seen,” Krikorian said. “But yet, she’s also one of the most selfless players. And so when you have a backup goalie like that and then you have someone like Ashleigh, who’s obviously phenomenal, but she carries herself with so much grace and humility. It makes my job so much easier.”


Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap


More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2020-tokyo-olympics and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

Goalie gang: Longan, US women beat Canada 16-5 in quarters