Aimee Berg, FINA Press Correspondent in the US

On Day 2 of the FINA Women’s Intercontinental Tournament, Australia, Japan, and the US remained undefeated. And it wasn’t even close. Australia beat Canada 10-7, Japan blew out Kazakhstan 15-4, and the US beat China 10-5, on a sweltering (100 F/ 38 C) day of round-robin play at the Schaal Aquatic Center at the University of California-Davis.

Expect one of those perfect records to fall on Day 3, however, when Japan and the US meet each other to close out Thursday’s matches.

The round-robin format will continue through Saturday as all six teams try to qualify for the FINA World League Super Final in Shanghai, China, from June 6-11. After Sunday’s playoffs, the top four teams (plus China, the Super Final host) will clinch a berth.  

Joelle Bekhazi takes aim (Photo by Aimee Berg)

GAME 1: 16:30 CANADA 7 AUSTRALIA 10
Quarters: 2-4, 1-3, 2-0, 2-3.
Referees: Tadao Tahara (JPN), Steven Rotsart (USA)
Extra Man: CAN: 0/3.  AUS 2/4.
Pens: Nil.

Teams:
CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Kelly McKee, Axelle Crevier (1), Elyse Lemay (1), Chayma Hlanadif, Michelle Caron (1), Joelle Bekhazi, Shae Fournier (1), Gurpreet Sohi, Dominique Perreault (3), Verica Bakoc, Marina Radu, Clara Vulpisi,  Head Coach: David Paradelo.
AUSTRALIA: Lilian Hedges, Keesja Gofers (2), Hannah Buckling (4), Elle Armit, Isobel Bishop (2), Amy Ridge, Rowie Webster (2), Bridget Leeson-Smith, Dayna O’Leary, Tiana Sogaard Anderson, Ashleigh Roberts, Alice Williams, Gabriella Palm, Head Coach: Sakis Kechagias.

Australia led Canada from start to finish, despite a lapse in the third period.

Within the first four minutes of the game, Australia built a 4-0 lead thanks, in part, to three goals by Hannah Buckling. Dominique Perreault then added two points for Canada, but Australia still led 4-2 after the first period. In the second period, Australia captain Rowie Webster padded her country’s lead to 6-2. Buckling added one more to make it 7-2.  Then, with 1:14 remaining in the first half, Perreault scored at point-blank range off a quick pass by Joelle Bekhazi to net her third goal for Canada. At halftime, Australia had a 7-3 advantage.

Canada held Australia scoreless in the third period while adding two goals of its own, by Shae Fournier and Elyse Lemay, to bring the game within reach. To no avail.  Australia expanded its 7-5 lead immediately in the fourth quarter with three unanswered goals (including two by Keesja Gofers). Trailing 5-10, Canada scored twice more before the final buzzer but lost 10-7 in the end.

QUOTES:
Australia head coach Sakis Kechagias:
“Every game I want to work on something different. Today we had bad moments and good moments. It’s important for us to read the situation and react. This is our focus at the moment: read and react.

Hannah Buckling (scored four goals for Australia):
“Playing against Canada is always heavy. We’re just both very strong teams. We had a terrible third quarter, so it was good to see the girls all fight back and take away the win.”

Anna Turova (KAZ) in control (Photo by Aimee Berg)

GAME 2: 17:50, KAZAKHSTAN 4 JAPAN 15
Quarters: 0-0, 1-6, 2-3, 1-6.
Referees: Haz Ortega (USA), Martin Murray (CAN)
Extra Man: KAZ 0/4.  JPN 3/7.
Pens: KAZ 1/1. JPN 1/1.

Teams:
KAZAKHSTAN: Alexandra Zharkinbaeva, Anastassia Yeremina, Aizhan Akilbaeva, Anna Turova, Kamila Zakizova, Anna Novikova (1) Darya Roga, Oxana Saichuk, Sivilya Raiter, Darya Muravyeva, Anastassia Mirshina (3), Assem Mussarova, Aigerim Abildaeva, Head Coach: Andrey Sazukin.
JAPAN: Miyuu Aoki, Yumi Arima (4), Haruna Nonomura, Shino Magariyama,  Chiaki Sakanoue, Miku Koida (1), Akari Inada (4), Mimori Yamamoto (2), Kana Hosoya (1), Misaki Noro (1), Marina Tokumoto, Kotori Suzuki (2) , Yuka Kamatashiro, Head Coach: Hideo Kato.

The temperature dropped to 97 F (36 C) for the second game of the day but Japan was red hot as it beat Kazakhstan, 15-4, after a slow start.

No one scored in the first period; Kazakhstan failed to capitalize on two power plays and Japan failed to convert one of its own. But everything changed in the second period. Japan went on a five-goal scoring spree before Kazakhstan’s Anastassia Mirshina finally put the ball past Japan’s goalie Miyuu Aoki with 58 seconds left in the first half to make it 5-1. Eight seconds before the buzzer, Japan scored again as 19-year-old Mimori Yamamoto added a point to make it 6-1.

Early in the third quarter, a penalty foul was called on Kazakhstan’s Darya Roga. Kana Hosoya nailed the penalty shot to increase Japan’s lead, 7-1. When it was 9-1, Mirshina scored her second goal of the day for Kazakhstan and her countrywoman Anna Novikova placed a shot into lower left corner of Japan’s net to make it a 9-3 game. In the fourth quarter, Kazakhstan’s lone goal came on a penalty shot by Mirshina with 5:32 to go, but Japan had tallied six goals when time expired for a 15-4 victory.

QUOTES:
Kazakhstan Captain Assem Mussarova:
“Tonight was difficult because of the sun. We could see nothing. We give the ball away in the wrong places. Next time, I want that we shoot more and play very hard on defense.”

Japan Head Coach Hideo Kato:
“We tried to stay on the line between the opponent and ball, so we could press our opponent on defense. We tried not to have them passing around. [Looking ahead] we always remind ourselves that we are challengers to anybody.”

Melissa Seidemann (USA 3) plots a pass (Photo by Aimee Berg)

GAME 3: 19:10, CHINA 5  UNITED STATES 10
Quarters: 0-3, 1-3, 1-2, 3-2.
Referees: Victor Salnicenko (KAZ), Andrew Carney (AUS)
Extra Man: CHN 1/6. USA 0/4.
Pens: CHN: 2/2. USA 1/1.

Teams:
CHINA: Peng Lin, Xiong Dunhan, Tian Jianing, Pan Li, Zhai Ying, Deng Zewen (4), Guo Ning, Deng Yu, Nong Sanpeng (1), Ma Huanhuan, Wang Dujuan, Li Chenying, Xie Yuting, Head Coach: Lin Jun.
UNITED STATES: Thea Walsh, Ava Johnson, Melissa Seidemann (2), Alexandra Thomason (2), Sarah Klass, Bayley Weber, Alexis Liebowitz (1), Ryann Neushul, Aria Fischer (2), Jewel Roemer (1), Abrielle Hill (2), Paige Hauschild, Georgia Phillips, Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

In the first period of its second straight victory here, the U.S. shut out China, 3-0, and prevented China from converting three power plays. Second-quarter scoring opened with a pair of cool trick shots by Abrielle Hill – a no-look over-the-back-of-her-head goal in the first 32 seconds and a high arcing ball shortly thereafter as the U.S. went up 5-0. China finally scored on a penalty shot by Deng Zewen – and a large local Chinese crowd erupted. At halftime, the US was ahead 6-1, having outshot China 19 to 7 but failing to score on three power plays.

Each team added four goals in the second half – including Aria Fisher’s penalty shot in the third quarter, and Deng Zewen’s penalty shout in the fourth. By the end of the night, Deng had scored four of China’s goals in a 10-5 loss while six different players contributed to the U.S. tally.  

The US will face Japan on Thursday, and China will play Canada.
 
QUOTES:
China Deng Zewen (scored four goals):
“I think we did terrific. I think we played [both] offense and defense very well. I think I [personally] did better than expected. I’m 20. This is my first international tournament as an adult. I did youth before.”

United States utility player Bayley Weber:
“We expected nothing to be easy. We’ve been working on 5-on-6 a lot and improving each game. I’m 16, a junior in high school. This is my first senior international tournament. I’ve learned that it’s much more physical [at this level], you have to be able to move, and it’s all about communication.”