Canadian women's water polo team falls to U.S., ending 1st Olympics since 2004
Top-ranked Americans continue in quest to win 3rd consecutive gold medal
Up against an American dynasty in the Olympic quarter-finals, it was sink or swim for the Canadian women's water polo team.
The U.S. shot out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back, overwhelming Canada 16-5 on Tuesday in Tokyo.
Canada, in its first Olympic appearance since 2004, was overmatched against an American side that's won back-to-back gold medals and hadn't lost a match at the Olympics entering these Games since 2008. Canada now heads into a classification game against Australia on Thursday.
The Canadians, ranked sixth worldwide, fell behind in the first minute when American Madeline Musselman converted a penalty shot following a call against Canada's Hayley McKelvey.
That began the string of five consecutive goals for the top-ranked U.S., blowing the underdog Canadians out of the water before they had a chance to get their feet under them.
Musselman ended the match with two goals, while Margaret Steffens, Makenzie Fischer and Alys Williams contributed hat tricks in the victory.
The U.S. eventually led 7-1 after one quarter. Shae La Roche got the scoring started for Canada in the first quarter before adding another in the second. Centre Emma Wright also struck for the Canadians in the first half.
Axelle Crevier and McKelvey each scored in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Canada eventually settled in after the rough first quarter, playing the Americans relatively in the second half. However, the first-quarter deficit proved too much to make up in the final 24 minutes of action.
The game was a rematch of the 2019 Pan Am Games final, which the Americans won 24-4 as the Canadians booked their tickets to Tokyo.
When the sting of Tuesday's loss subsides, Canada can take solace in its solid showing throughout the Games.
Its lone victory was a resounding one, thumping South Africa to the tune of 21-1 in group play. The Canadians were mostly competitive in their losses, too.
The water polo women were also part of a minor Canadian team sports resurgence at these Olympics, with the country sending a record eight squads to a non-hosted, non-boycotted Games.
The U.S. will play the winner of a match between Australia and the Russian Olympic Committee in Thursday's semifinals.