Craig, Hill, Neushul, Team USA glowing in gold

Sami HIll, left, Kiley Neushul and Kami Craig show off their gold medals from the FINA Women's Water Polo World Championships. The local trio won three golds this year, taking titles in the World League, Pan American Games and World Championships.

Sami HIll, left, Kiley Neushul and Kami Craig show off their gold medals from the FINA Women’s Water Polo World Championships. The local trio won three golds this year, taking titles in the World League, Pan American Games and World Championships. (Photo by Peter Neushul)

Call them the Golden Girls.

Local water polo players Kami Craig, Kiley Neushul and Sami Hill added a World Championship gold medal to their collection of gold medallions.

The trio helped the USA Water Polo Women’s National Team win the FINA World Championship with a 5-4 victory over the Netherlands in Kazan, Russia on Friday night.

For Craig (Santa Barbara High alum), the gold medal is her fifth in a major championship since 2012. She’s played on winning teams in the Olympics, World Cup, World Championships, World League and Pan American Games, a feat never before achieved in women’s international water polo. Neushul and Hill (Dos Pueblos alums) have four golds; they weren’t on the Olympic team in 2012.

Neushul scored the go-ahead goal in the final against Netherlands. She gave the U.S. a 4-3 lead and Courtney Mathewson followed with a score for two-goal advantage (5-3) going into the final period.

The U.S. defense held the lead. Goalie Ashleigh Johnson denied a penalty shot with a little over four minutes to play. Johnson made 12 saves and was named match MVP and the tournament’s top goalie. The Dutch got a score from Maud Megens to make it 5-4 with 3:13 to play, but the Americans shut them out the rest of the way.

Rachel Fattal was named the tournament MVP. She scored two goals in the final.

“It was surreal,” Fattal said of winning the championship. “We played well together, we were balanced and our defense we nailed.”

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