MADRID, Spain -- The USA Youth Women's National Team, led by University of Michigan head water polo coach Dr. Marcelo Leonardi, won its first-ever FINA Youth World Championship title, earning a 5-4 victory over Canada in the championship final on Sunday (Aug. 31) at the Centro de Natación M'86. Team USA posted a perfect 6-0 record over the seven-day competition.
The Red, White and Blue struck quickly and jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage in the opening eight minutes of play in the championship game, before Canada narrowed Team USA's lead to 3-2 at the halftime intermission. Both teams scored one apiece in the third and fourth quarters, with Canada briefly tying the game in the latter frame, before the U.S. squad retook the lead and held on.
Team USA cruised through its preliminary competition earlier in the week, outscoring Hungary, South Africa and Germany by a combined 58-17 margin. Leonardi's team edged the Netherlands, 6-4, in the quarterfinals before rallying to earn a dramatic 12-11 shootout win against Greece in the semifinals.
The gold medal marks the second major championship of the summer for Leonardi and the Women's Youth National Team; they previously earned gold at the UANA Junior Pan American Championship this past July in Riverside, Calif.
The tournament also wraps a busy summer for Leonardi, who will next return to Ann Arbor for his first season at the helm of the Wolverine program.
Contact: Leah Howard