By Joshua Schneyer

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - The U.S. women’s water polo team won a gold medal and became the first ever to defend its Olympic title on Friday, defeating Italy by 12-5.

U.S. starting goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson blocked several attempts on goal including a high-speed penalty shot to deny Italy points, while the young team showed the depth of its talent on offense, as eight different U.S. players scored goals, versus four for Italy.

With the victory, the defending world champion team became the first to capture back-to-back gold medals after prevailing at the 2012 London Games. They also kept their streak alive of winning a medal at every Games since women’s water polo was added to the Olympics in 2000.

The final was a face-off between the only two teams who had gone undefeated in all of their five previous games in Rio.

Earlier on Friday, Russia’s women defeated Hungary in a close penalty shootout to claim the bronze medal.

(Reporting By Joshua Schneyer; Editing by Jan Harvey)