2019 USA Water Polo Women’s Holiday Cup Coming to Princeton in December

Coming to a pool near you (if you are on the East Coast); the world's best women's water polo team. Photo Courtesy: USA Water Polo

For the first time since 2016, when the Hungarian women’s team appeared in a series of friendlies against the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team, some of the world’s top women’s water polo teams will compete on the East Coast. Headlining the 2019 USA Water Polo Holiday Cup—to be held December 16-21 at Princeton University—are the American women, currently ranked #1 in the world by FINA.

Two-time defending Olympic champions and currently riding a 59-match winning streak, Team USA will call DeNunzio Pool home when they welcome Canada, Russia, Italy and the Netherlands for six days of competition. This rare opportunity to see top polo competition includes ten matches of round-robin play that culminates in a championship final on Saturday, December 21.


Canadians celebrating an Olympic berth earned in Peru; now they come to Princeton to prove they belong. Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo

Of the five teams competing at Princeton, two—the U.S. and Canada—have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics. The other three participants are almost certain to claim spots for the Tokyo Games; three teams—Italy, Russia and Team USA participated in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where the Americans beat the Italians 12-5 to capture a second straight gold medal.

[Golden Again! USA Women Win Fifth Straight Pan American Water Polo Title at 2019 Games in Peru]

Since their last Olympic win—which assured that Team USA captured medals in every women’s Olympic water polo tournament since the sport was included in the 2000 Games in Australia—the Americans have continued to dominate the sport. They’ve won back-to-back World Championships and every single major title—a streak that dates back to 2014.

Head Coach Adam Krikorian’s side has not lost a match since a 9-8 decision to the Australians in April 2018. Team USA has subsequently won the past eight matches with the Aussies, including three straight exhibition matches to honor Kami Craig on her 2018 retirement from the U.S. national team.

Lima, Tuesday, August 6, 2019. Ashleigh Johnson from the USA goes for the ball during her Women's Water Polo match against Venezuela at Villa María del Triunfo at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. Copyright Paul Vallejos / Lima 2019 ** NO SALES ** NO ARCHIVES **

Team USA’s Ashleight Johnson. Photo Courtesy: Paul Vallejos

DeNunzio—home to Princeton’s men’s and women’s water polo teams—from 2012 – 2017 featured Ashleigh Johnson, the school’s most famous water polo athlete. A 2016 Olympic gold medalist, during her collegiate career Johnson helped the Tigers to NCAA tournament appearances in 2013 and 2015. Johnson will be back playing a competitive match at DeNunzio for the first time since her senior season in 2017.

[Bittersweet Senior Day for Ashleigh Johnson & Princeton Water Polo]

“I’m really looking forward to being back on campus and to having the opportunity to share my Team USA experience with the people who supported me throughout my time as a student-athlete at Princeton!” Johnson said in a statement supplied by USA Water Polo.

A complete match schedule is available below; free admission available for all matches. Team rosters, promotions and live broadcast coverage will be announced in the coming weeks.

2019 USA Water Polo Holiday Cup
December 16-21 – DeNunzio Pool – Princeton, NJ
subject to change – all times Eastern

Monday, December 16
5:30pm – Canada vs Netherlands
7:00pm – USA vs Russia

Tuesday, December 17
5:30pm – Italy vs Russia
7:00pm – USA vs Netherlands

Wednesday, December 18
5:30pm – Italy vs Canada
7:00pm – Netherlands vs Russia

Thursday, December 19
5:30pm – Italy vs Netherlands
7:00pm – USA vs Canada

Friday, December 20
5:30pm – Russia vs Canada
7:00pm – USA vs Italy

Saturday, December 21
10:00am – 4th place vs 3rd place
11:30am – 1st place vs 2nd place

With added materials from USA Water Polo