VOLOS, Greece -- The USA Women's Junior National Team completed group play 3-0 and earned a bye into the quarterfinals of the FINA Junior World Championships with a 12-5 defeat of New Zealand. Ashley Grossman scored a game high six goals while Jillian Yocum and Ashleigh Johnson combined for nine saves in net in the victory.
Team USA will be back in action on Friday at 7:45 a.m. (PT) when they take on the winner of the Hungary/Ukraine match taking place on Thursday. A full tournament schedule can be found by clicking here.
The United States got off to a strong start with a goal from Kiley Neushul in the first 20 seconds of the match for a 1-0 lead. New Zealand answered with a goal two minutes later to even the game at 1-1. Team USA responded with two straight goals from Grossman and Eike Daube for a 3-1 lead. New Zealand drew to within 3-2 with a goal with less than a minute to play. Monica Vavic would have the last word in the period, finding the net with just one second remaining for a 4-2 lead heading into the second.
New Zealand battled back early in the second period, scoring two straight to tie the match at 4-4 with 5:42 to play. But then Grossman got hot and ripped off four straight goals in a span of nearly three minutes, to give the U.S. an 8-4 lead with 1:51 to play in the first half. New Zealand would never recover from Grossman's outburst despite adding a goal late in the half to trail 8-5 at halftime.
The second half belonged to the United States' defense as it shutout New Zealand over the remaining two periods. Williams and Neushul provided the scoring for Team USA in the third period as the Americans held a 10-5 lead through three periods.
Three minutes into the fourth period, Grossman added her final goal for an 11-5 advantage. Then Neushul finished things off with a tally late in the match to complete her hat trick and deliver the 12-5 final score.
Team USA was 2-for-3 on power plays but 0-for-2 on penalty shots. New Zealand was 0-for-5 on power plays and 1-for-2 on penalty shots.
"New Zealand played us extremely tough throughout the match," said USA Head Coach Dan Klatt. "It was good preparation for the remaining games."
New Zealand vs. USA
Italy Goals: Alessia Millo 3, Sara Dario, Laura Repetto
USA Goals: Ashley Grossman 6, Kiley Neushul 3, Alys Williams, Monica Vavic, Eike Daube
USA Saves: Ashleigh Johnson 6, Jillian Yocum 3