Team USA is now one match away from a three-peat in water polo gold, following a tight semifinal against the Russian Olympic Committee.
The duel in the pool at the Tatsumi Water Polo Centre followed a preliminary match in which the Americans embarrassed the Russians via an 18-5 blowout. This go-around, the U.S. hit a low of 4-7 in the second quarter before finishing the first half 6-7.
By the third quarter, Team USA fought back to even the score, 8-8. They then took a two-point advantage with four-and-a-half minutes to go and held the lead until an 11-11 tie in the fourth. Aria Fischer soon responded with a clutch goal to make the score 12-11. Another invaluable player: Ashleigh Johnson, whose ironclad defense blocked several dangerous shots.
Maggie Steffens continued to provide offense for the United States. Steffens -- who leads the women's water polo all-time Olympic scoring with 55 goals -- hit three goals. Teammate Maddie Musselman lived up to her name, throwing five points on the scoreboard.
Final score: 15-11.
The U.S. has won a medal in water polo at every Olympics since the event's introduction in 2000; they will face either Spain or Hungary in the final, but are guaranteed at least silver. Russia previously won bronze at Rio 2016 and Sydney 2000, and will now fight for third place.
The gold medal match will take place at 3:30am ET on Saturday, August 7th.