(DAVIS, California) – Less than 24 hours after losing to the U.S. in a round-robin shoot out, Australia made sure to win the rematch – this time, for gold. And this time, Australia wouldn’t squander its lead. But the U.S. refused to lose and clawed its way out of a 3-goal deficit – twice. In the fourth quarter, Aria Fischer tied it for the home team, 7-7, with about three minutes to go. But then, Australia scored three unanswered goals (including two in the last minute) and captured gold, 10-7.

Canada beat Japan for the bronze, 5-2. And Kazakhstan took fifth place by dominating China, 14-7, at the FINA Women’s Intercontinental Tournament at the University of California-Davis.

Final Standings:

1. Australia, 2. United States, 3. Canada, 4. Japan, 5. Kazakhstan, 6. China


Top Scorer: Rowie Webster (AUS), 18 goals

Best Goalkeeper: Jessica Gaudreault (CAN)

Most Valuable Player: Melissa Seidemann (USA)

The top four teams have now officially qualified for the FINA World League Super Final in Shanghai, June 6-11, where they will meet Hungary, Russia, and the Netherlands. China, the host nation, will also compete.


Kazakhstan scores on Peng Lin (CHN) for 5th place (Photo by Aimee Berg)

Classification 5-6: 9:30 KAZAKHSTAN 14 CHINA 7

Quarters: 2-2, 3-1, 5-2, 4-2.

Referees: Andrew Carney (AUS), Haz Ortega (USA)

Extra Man: KAZ 3/5. CHN 4/5.

Pens: KAZ 1/1. CHN 0/1.



KAZAKHSTAN: Alexandra Zharkinbaeva, Anastassia Yeremina, Aizhan Akilbaeva, Anna Turova (2), Kamila Zakizova  (2), Anna Novikova (1), Darya Roga (1), Oxana Saichuk (1), Sivilya Raiter  (2), Darya Muravyeva (2), Anastassia Mirshina  (3), Assem Mussarova, Aigerim Abildaeva, Head Coach: Andrey Sazukin.

CHINA: Peng Lin, Xiong Dunhan (2), Tian Jianing, Pan Li, Zhai Ying (1), Deng Zewen (2), Guo Ning, Deng Yu, Nong Sanpeng, Ma Huanhuan (2), Wang Dujuan, Li Chenying, Xie Yuting, Head Coach: Lin Jun.


In the early-morning classification game to determine fifth and sixth place, China and Kazakhstan played to a 2-2 tie in the first quarter under cloudless skies and fierce winds. In the second quarter, Kazakhstan pulled ahead, 3-2, on a baffling breeze-aided goal by Kamila Zazikova. China’s Deng Zewen’s tied the game at 3 apiece on a power play. But Kazakhstan led 5-3 at halftime.

In an active third quarter, Kazkahstan ripped in four goals within 80 seconds, beginning with Darya Murayeva’s unobstructed shot taken within a meter of the net, Anastassia Mirshina’s penalty-shot goal and points by Oxana Saichuk and Kamila Kazkizova. By then, seven Kazakh players had contributed to its gaping 9-3 lead. Zhai Ying stopped the madness, briefly, with a power play goal for China to make it 9-4. Mirshina rendered it moot when she scored in the last minute. But Ma Huanhuan capped the period with a last-second power play goal that deflected into the net at the horn. It was 10-5.

Fourth quarter scoring began with a whip-around hook shot by Murayeva – only to be upstaged 26 seconds later by Xiong Dunhan’s backhanded blast for China to make it 11-6. Kazakhstan scored the next three goals, and Ma Huanhuan ended the streak with a power play goal. Final score: 14-7, which meant Kazakhstan placed fifth, and China lost its sixth game in six days to place sixth.



Kazakhstan Sivilya Raiter (2 goals):

“It was a tough game but we did it. [On finishing fifth but not qualifying for the Super Final:] For us, it’s a win because we played very well. I’m 16. This is my second international tournament.”

China Captain Ma Huanhuan (2 goals):

“[In this tournament] I think we learned to grow more cohesive, and teamwork. [On having a new coach this year:] This is not actually the new coach. He’s more like a club coach. We have a [national team] coach, but he didn’t go.”


Defense was key as Canada beat Japan for bronze (Photo by Aimee Berg)


Classification 3-4 (Bronze Medal): 11:00, JAPAN 2 CANADA 5

Quarters:  1-2, 1-0, 0-1, 0-2

Referees: Steven Rotsart (USA), Victor Salnicenko (KAZ)

Extra Man: JPN 0/4. CAN 0/2.

Pens: Nil.



JAPAN: Miyuu Aoki, Yumi Arima  (1), Haruna Nonomura, Shino Magariyama,  Chiaki Sakanoue, Miku Koida, Akari Inada, Mimori Yamamoto, Kana Hosoya, Misaki Noro (1), Marina Tokumoto, Kotori Suzuki, Yuka Kamatashiro, Head Coach: Hideo Kato.

CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Kelly McKee, Axelle Crevier, Elyse Lemay (3), Chayma Hlanadif, Michelle Caron, Joelle Bekhazi (1), Shae Fournier, Gurpreet Sohi (1), Dominique Perreault, Verica Bakoc, Marina Radu, Clara Vulpisi, Head Coach: David Paradelo.



On Sunday, Canada avenged its loss to Japan on Day 1 (a lopsided, 13-8, game in scorching heat) with a 5-2 victory to capture the bronze medal.

In the first quarter, Misaki Noro initiated scoring for Japan, but 22-year-old Elyse Lemay of Montreal added two for Canada – a backhanded missile, followed by a hard shot that hit the left post before Lemay took her own rebound into the net. There were no exclusions all quarter and Canada led, 2-1. The second quarter was a defensive battle. The players spread out, and no one scored until Yumi Arima tied the game 2-2, just 17 seconds before halftime.

In the third quarter, Lemay added her third goal of the day – a slick backhander with 2:33 to go.  In the fourth, with a bronze medal at stake, Gurpreet Sohi and Joelle Bekhazi scored for Canada and a 5-2 win.



Japan captain Kotori Suzuki:

“We had poor conversion on our shots. [At halftime the coach said] never stop, keep moving. [Between now and the Super Final in June] we have to improve our shot conversion.”

Canada Elyse Lemay (3 goals):

“It was a hard game. We did pretty much what we wanted to do. We didn’t have a lot of goals; we just tried to get it in as much as possible. We wanted to feed it into the center most of the time and play more wide on the second line up top. Japan plays a really hard press in the lane. Of course we wanted to win the bronze medal. We’re pretty happy with it.”


Aussie goalie Lilian Hedges stops a US shot (Photo by Aimee Berg)


Classification 1-2 (Gold Medal): 12:30, UNITED STATES 7 AUSTRALIA 10

Quarters: 0-2, 2-1, 1-3, 4-4.

Referees: Martin Murray (CAN), Tadao Tahara (JPN)

Extra Man: USA 3/8. AUS 1/5.

Pens: USA 1/2. AUS 1/1.



UNITED STATES: Thea Walsh, Ava Johnson, Melissa Seidemann (1), Alexandra Thomason, Sarah Klass, Bayley Weber, Alexis Liebowitz, Ryann Neushul, Aria Fischer (2), Jewel Roemer (2), Abrielle Hill, Paige Hauschild (2), Georgia Phillips,Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

AUSTRALIA: Lilian Hedges, Keesja Gofers (3), Hannah Buckling (1), Elle Armit (4), Isobel Bishop, Amy Ridge, Rowie Webster (2), Bridget Leeson-Smith, Dayna O’Leary, Tiana Sogaard Anderson, Ashleigh Roberts, Alice Williams, Gabriella Palm, Head Coach: Sakis Kechagias.



To win gold, Australia would have to do something that no team (including itself) had done all week: beat the U.S. It certainly looked promising in the first quarter when Elle Armit put two balls past the young U.S. goalie Georgia Phillips to take a 2-0 lead. In the second quarter, Armit scored again early, but Melissa Seidemann began scoring for the U.S. with a power play goal deep into the corner pocket. Jewel Roemer inched the score closer for the U.S. with a long-range goal to the center of the net. At halftime, Australia led, 3-2.

In the third quarter, Aria Fischer tied the score, 3-3, on a power play goal. But Australia added the next three goals (two by captain Rowie Webster, including a 5-meter penalty shot, and a highlight-worthy shot by Keesja Gofers that capitalized on a pass that had been launched more than halfway down the length of the pool).

At the start of the fourth quarter, the U.S. trailed 6-3, and had to dig its way out of yet another hole. Paige Hauschild and Jewel Roemer helped by scoring two points in the first 90 seconds to bring the U.S. within reach, 6-5.  But Hannah Buckling quickly put Australia up 7-5. When Hauschild made her second goal of the game, it triggered chants of “U-S-A.” Fischer fed off that energy and tied it 7-all with 3:04 remaining. Australia regained the lead when Armit scored her fourth goal of the game with 1:47 to go.  In the last minute, Gofers put the ball past U.S. goalie Georgia Phillips – overhead and out of reach – to make it 9-7.  Gofers scored again on a power play with three seconds left, propelling Australia to gold, 10-7.



United States Aria Fischer (2 goals):

“They played great. It was just a well-fought game overall. [On making the tying goal in the fourth quarter:] It kinda just worked out that way. We were passing the ball around great [during] that possession and it just turned out to be my time to shoot. [What’s next?] Keep working hard individually and as a team and keep getting better. [For you personally?]  I’m still in high school. I don’t graduate till June.”

Australia Elle Armit (4 goals):

“It’s always a tough game because of it being a rivalry between two big, strong physical teams. I’m really proud. We learned from yesterday [the loss to USA in a shootout]. We were making sure our defense was solid, and making more attacks and not wasting them.”

Australia wins the gold at 2017 FINA Intercontinental (Photo by Sam Stringer/USAWP)