Canada showed it’s experience that counts when it came from 2-4 down in the last quarter to upset United States of America 6-5 on the fifth day of the FINA Water Polo World League Intercontinental Cup in Lima, Peru. Cuba gained its first win, downing Colombia 15-9 and Brazil earned its first victory over Argentina 8-3 in the round-robin tournament.
McKelvey steps up to get Canada across line against unbeaten USA
CANADA 6 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 5
Amanda Longan, the only USA player with international experience heading into this tournament, was the absolute hero for her team, soaking up an incredible 19 saves as Canada laid siege to the USA defence. Sadly, it was not enough. Taylor Smith was the only double scorer for USA. Canada’s Hayley McKelvey was the saviour with the last two goals that sealed the victory, the second on extra-man attack. Canadian keeper Jessica Gaudreault made eight saves.
The big swing away from USA was at 5:31 in the final period when Shae La Roche broke through to score. Less than a minute later, Verica Bakoc converted extra-man attack. Two minutes later, McKelvey scored on action and the response from USA came via an Ava Stryker extra-man conversion. The final twist came from McKelvey on extra at 1:47 and despite a USA timeout inside the final minute, it could not find a way through for a draw and a shootout.
Stats don’t lie
Despite the one-goal final scoreline, the statistics tell a different story. Canada fired in 33 shots to USA’s 23. It won the extra-man battle 4/8 to 3/8 — crucial when it comes to the final score. USA had to make 22 blocks and Longan starred there. Canada needed to block only 10. Canada made nine steals to six, had one less offensive — 2/3 — and two less turnovers — 2/4. Those statistics say it all, how Canada could have won by a much larger margin. This also gives hope to the USA.
Canada has the experience of the big matches and dug deep in the final quarter to break through in a match that threatened to open up on many occasions. The raw talent of USA was evident, but winning on the international stage is never easy. Both teams were effective on their man-to-man defence and many shots were low percentage, allowing the goalkeepers to shine. In this round-robin format, wins are crucial and USA’s first loss and Sunday’s match with Australia looming, makes it a tougher assignment to finish in the top two. However, the aim in Lima is to finish top four and head to the Super Final.
Santana beats the drum for Cuba in first Lima victory
COLOMBIA 9 CUBA 15
The three opening goals for Cuba were a statement of what it was capable. Colombia’s three-goal reply for 3-3 at 6:06 of the second period was a defiant response in a tournament that is giving valuable international experience to the American teams. Cuba replied with five unanswered goals with Jannifer Plascencio netting the first two. Colombia brought it back to 8-5 behind with the first of seven penalty shots. Cuba missed the second penalty and Daniuska Marin claimed the second for Colombia. A Susana Atehortua strike late in the period had Colombia just two down at three-quarter time — 9-7. Aliannis Ramirez converted her penalty and threw in another goal for 11-7. Sara Vanegas (COL) had her penalty shot blocked and Cuba advanced to 14-7. Two more Colombian penalty goals brought the score to 14-9 before Lisbeth Santana rammed in her fourth goal in the last 10 seconds. The match lifted Colombia’s total to 26 goals for the tournament, coming off a rest day.
Cuba took 34 shots to Colombia’s 24, the major difference in a match where the statistics proved very even. Colombia scored the only extra-man goal — 1/5 to 0/2. The penalties went 4/5 to Colombia and 1/2 for Cuba. Blocks were 12/11; steals 8/11; offensives 5/7 and turnovers 4/2.
Santana was on song with four goals, followed by Ramirez and Dalia Grau with three each. For Colombia, Angela Rivera, Maria Restrepo, Atehortua and Vanegas all scored doubles. Colombian goalkeeper Sara Agudelo made nine saves.
Goalkeepers star in South American derby
ARGENTINA 3 BRAZIL 8
Both goalkeepers continued the theme of stand-out goalkeepers today, keeping their teams in play during an excellent South American face-off. Argentinian Nahir Stegmeyer made 12 saves while Brazil’s keeper, Thatiana Pregolini, managed 11. Brazil had the artillery and made the most of 31 shots to Argentina’s 23. The match was close throughout with Brazil winning the first 2-0 and kept Argentina out in the second quarter as well, but only advanced by a single goal. Argentina came alive in the third for 4-2 but a second strike from Brazilian captain Melani Dias helped surge the team to 7-2 in the final quarter. With four minutes left, Argentinian head coach Guillermo Setti was red-carded, leaving his assistants to take over. Melani Dias converted a penalty a minute later and Cecelia Leonard closed the scoring for 8-3 on extra-man attack.
Both teams struggled on extra, each claiming one from six. The blocks went 14-16, offences 3/2 and turnovers 3/5 , but the real damage came with steals, Brazil filching 14 to Argentina’s four.
Argentina plays Canada; top-ranked Australia comes back from a rest day to take on bottom-ranked Colombia and Brazil faces Cuba to see who will gain a second win.
Australia 12, USA 12, Canada 9, Brazil 9, Argentina 3, Cuba 3, Colombia 0.