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Local Water Polo Stars Reach Gold Medal Game With Team USA

Santa Barbara’s three water polo Olympians will be playing for a gold medal at the Rio Olympics, as Team USA held off Hungary 14-10 in a women’s water polo semifinal on Wednesday.

Kami Craig, Kiley Neushul and Sami Hill and the USA women will take on Italy in the gold medal match on Friday (11:30 a.m.PT). Italy defeated Russia 12-9 in the other semifinal game on Wednesday.

“We’re going for gold, baby! So proud of this team, let’s do this thanngg,” tweeted Hill after the game.

The Americans are seeking their second straight gold medal. Craig was on the gold medal-winning team in London. Neushul and Hill are making their Olympic debuts.

Neushul (Dos Pueblos alum) scored two goals and Craig (Santa Barbara High alum) tallied one – all coming in the second half – to help Team USA stave off a Hungarian comeback.

The score was 9-6 in the third period when Neushul drove toward the goal, caught a pass and jammed her shot past the Hungary goalkeeper.

Hungary converted on a power play to make it an 11-7 game before Craig delivered for a 12-7 advantage with two minutes left in the third period.

The Hungarians answered with 1:05 remaining in the period.

Neushul tallied her second goal to put Team USA up by five (13-8) at the 6:21 mark of the fourth period.

The Team USA defense held Hungary to two goals the rest of the way, and the Americans punched their ticket to a third straight Olympics final.

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