STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford’s Makenzie Fischer, Kiley Neushul, Melissa Seidemann and Maggie Steffens were named to the USA Water Polo Women’s National Team roster that will take part in the 2016 Olympic Qualification Tournament it was announced Wednesday.
The tournament, which starts March 21 in Gouda, Netherlands, is Team USA’s one and only chance to qualify for this summer’s Olympic Games. A top-four finish is required to punch a ticket to Rio.
After five days of group play where Team USA will take on Japan, Canada, Spain, Greece and South Africa, its Olympic hopes hinge on a crossover round on March 26 in which the winner continues on the road to Rio and the loser does not.
This year marks the second time the USA Women's National Team program has had to compete in this event. In the lead up to the 2000 Olympic Games, the first to feature women's water polo, Team USA qualified in Italy after failing to qualify in the Pan American Games a year earlier. With Brazil serving as Olympic host in 2016, the Pan American Games in 2015 did not serve as a continental qualifier as it had in previous years.
The 13-member roster is the same that led Team USA to gold at last month’s FINA Intercontinental Tournament in Lewisville, Texas. Steffens was named tournament MVP and Fischer tied Australia’s Rowie Webster for the high scoring award with 13 goals in six games.
Fischer, who signed a National Letter of Intent with Stanford in the fall of 2014, deferred her enrollment and will be a freshman on The Farm beginning with the 2016-17 academic year. Neushul, a two-time Peter J. Cutino Award winner and three-time NCAA champion, wrapped up her Stanford career this past May and finished as the Cardinal’s third all-time leading scorer with 222 goals.
Seidemann and Steffens won gold at the 2012 London Olympics with Team USA. Seidemann graduated in 2013 following a season in which she scored 75 goals, won the Peter J. Cutino Award and was named the ACWPC Player of the Year. Her 239 career goals are tied for the most in Stanford single-season history and are ninth in MPSF history.
A two-time FINA Women’s Water Polo Athlete of the Year, Steffens was the 2012 Olympics MVP after scoring 21 goals in London. A two-time NCAA champion and the reigning ACWPC Player of the Year, Steffens has taken this year off from Stanford and possesses one more year of eligibility with the Cardinal.