The US and Australia dominated – once again – on Day 4 of the FINA Women’s Intercontinental Tournament in Lewisville, Texas.  

Australia beat Japan by 22 goals (26-4), and the US prevailed over Canada 14-4. The two nations with perfect records will meet for the first time on Day 5 in a highly-anticipated round-robin clash.

Also on Friday, China claimed its first victory, 11-6, over Brazil thanks to clutch performances by some of its youngest players, including a hat trick by 17-year-old guard Lu Yiwen.

Round-robin play concludes on Saturday. The top four teams in Sunday’s playoffs (plus China) will advance to the FINA World League Super Final, June 7-12, in Shanghai. (China automatically qualifies as the host nation.)

GAME 1: 16:40 BRAZIL 6 CHINA 11
Quarters: 3-3, 2-3, 1-2, 0-3

Extra Man: BRA: 2/11. CHN 3/11.
Pens: CHN 0/1.

BRAZIL: Tess Oliveira, Diana Abla (3), Marina Zablith, Marina Canetti, Camila Pedrosa, Isabella Chiappini (2), Amanda Oliveira, Luiza Carvalho (1), Melani Dias, Viviane Bahia, Marina Duarte, Gabriela Mantellato, Victoria Chamorro. Head Coach: Pat Oaten.
CHINA: Yang Jun, Lu Yiwen (3), Mei Xiaohan, Xiong Dunhan (1), Niu Guannan (2), Sun Yating, Song Donglun (2), Zhang Cong, Zhao Zihan (1), Zhang Wei Wei (1), Wang Xinyan, Zhang Jing (1), Peng Lin. Head Coach: Ricardo Azevedo.

China beat Brazil, 11-6, on Day 4 to capture its first win of the tournament.

After two close matches earlier in the week (against Australia and Canada), China finally clinched its first victory – by a comfortable margin – over Brazil, 11-6.

China had a 2-0 lead midway through the first quarter until Brazil’s Isabella Chiappini scored twice to even the score. A minute later, Diana Abla made it a 3-2 game for Brazil off Melani Dias’ third consecutive assist. China’s Zhang Jing nailed a power play goal with five seconds left in the first quarter to tie the game, 3-3. In the second quarter, China pulled ahead to lead 6-5 at halftime.

In the third quarter, Lu Yiwen earned her second goal of the night to give China a little breathing room at 7-5.  Abla responded for Brazil, however, with a power play rocket into the top left corner of the net. Then China proved (yet again) that it excels at buzzer-beating goals when Olympian Song Donglun scored with nine seconds left in the quarter to make it 8-6.

Early in the fourth quarter, Brazil’s goalie Tess Oliveira saved Zhao Zihan’s 5-meter penalty shot and the Brazilian bench erupted with glee, but Zhao scored a minute later to extend China’s lead, 9-6. Song scored again for China with 3:25 remaining. Then – true to form – China added another point in the final two seconds: a skip shot on a power play to give Lu a hat trick and win, 11-6.  

Brazil now carries a 1-3 record into Saturday’s meeting with Canada (2-2). China (also 1-3) will play Japan (0-4) on the final day of round-robin.  
Brazil Head Coach Pat Oaten:
“When the games are tight, we panic a little bit. We struggle with tight-pressure situations. Those are things we have to improve on. That’s the next step.”

China Head Coach Ricardo Azevedo:
“I feel very good about tonight’s game. We controlled the game from the start. I played the three young players again. Lu Yiwen had three nice goals on the offense. The young goalie [Peng Lin] did very well today with some nice blocks. The 16-year-old center, Xiong Dunhan, earned about 5 ejections. Overall I think we achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve here. That is: get a lot of playing time for our younger players and give them some tough experience. I know my other players can resolve the game.”

Quarters: 2-5, 0-4, 2-10, 0-7

Extra Man: JPN: 1/5. AUS 3/9.
Pens: JPN: 0/1. AUS 0/1.

JAPAN: Rikako Miura, Chiaki Sakanoue, Akari Inaba (1), Shino Magariyama (1), Yuri Kazama, Ayaka Takahashi, Yumi Nakano, Mitsuki Hashiguchi (1), Kana Hosoya, Mori Tsubasai (1), Marina Tokumoko, Kotori Suzuki, Miyuu Aoki. Head Coach: Hideo Kato.
AUSTRALIA: Lea Yanitsas, Gemma Beadsworth (5), Hannah Buckling (1), Holly Lincoln-Smith (3), Keesja Gofers (2), Bronte Halligan, Rowena Webster (7), Glencora McGhie (2), Zoe Arancini (1), Ashleigh Southern (2), Isobel Bishop (1), Nicola Zagame (2), Kelsey Wakefield. Head Coach: Greg McFadden.

Australia outplayed Japan, 26-4 on Day 4.

Australia ripped to a 4-0 lead in the first period before Japan's captain Shino Magaiyama scored with 1:01 left in the quarter.  Each team added one more goal for a 5-2 score at the break.

In the second quarter, Australia’s Gemma Beadsworth made two goals in a row, and teammate/captain Rowena Webster followed suit to set up a 9-2 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, Japan trailed 15-3 when it swapped starting goalie Rikako Miura for back-up Miyuu Aoki, but Australia scored four more times in the final three minutes of the period and Japan only once. At the end of the quarter, the chasm was 19-4.

Australia added seven more goals in the fourth quarter, and by the end of the 26-4 rout, every Australian except Bronte Halligan (the youngest member of the team) and the goalies had earned points.  

On Saturday, Japan will face China and Australia will meet the US in a preview of what is sure to be the gold-medal game on Sunday.

Japan Head Coach Hideo Kato (through an interpreter):
“Our players are very mentally and physically weak. In the first two quarters, Australia wasn’t so fast on the offense. In the second half, we made a lot of mistakes and they made a lot of counters.

Australia Head Coach Greg McFadden:
“Japan came out and played really good polo in the first half. They put us under a lot of pressure. I think the score line was a bit flattering to us. It was a lot closer than what it was, [9-2]. But in the second half, we worked a lot harder on the little things we needed to do. We executed a lot better and our passing and releasing because Japan was playing very high in the lanes and it was very hard for us to get our ball to our teammates, so I was really pleased.”

Quarters: 6-3, 5-1, 1-0, 2-0

Extra Man: USA 5/12. CAN 0/10.
Pens: USA 0/2.

UNITED STATES: Sami Hill, Maddie Musselman, Melissa Seidemann, Rachel Fattal (1), KK Clark (1), Maggie Steffens (2), Courtney Mathewson, Kiley Neushul (1), Aria Fischer, Kaleigh Gilchrist (2), Makenzie Fischer (4), Kami Craig (3), Ashleigh Johnson. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.
CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Krystina Alogbo (2), Katrina Monton, Emma Wright, Monika Eggens (1), Kelly McKee, Joelle Bekhazi, Shae Fournier (1), Carmen Eggens, Christine Robinson, Axelle Crevier, Dominique Perreault, Nicola Colterjohn. Head Coach: David Paradelo.

US beat Canada, 14-4, in a fast, physical bout on Day 4.

In a rematch of the gold-medal game at the 2015 Pan American Games, the US beat Canada on Friday by nearly the same score: 14-4. (Last summer in Toronto, it was 13-4).

In a hectic first quarter, Kiley Neushul and Rachel Fattal scored within the first minute for the US, prompting Canada to replace goalie Jessica Gaudreault with Nicola Colterjohn. Krystina Alogbo scored next for Canada to make it a 2-1 game, but Makenzie Fischer dished back-to-back goals for the US. Canada answered with two goals of its own to narrow the gap, 4-3, and there was still 3:10 left in the quarter. The US regained control when Maggie Steffens scored, and Kami Craig made it 6-3 on a powerplay.   

In the second period, Canada’s starting goalie returned, but Makenzie Fisher’s cross-cage hat trick for the US and Kaleigh Gilchrist’s two goals within 30 seconds (a slammer on a power play, followed by a high arc into the net over the goalie’s head), led Canada to call time out with 4:44 left in the period. After that, the pace calmed a bit. Alogbo scored her second goal for Canada 22 seconds later to make it 9-4, but the US scored twice more in the final minute to lead 11-4 at the midpoint.

There was only one goal and one exclusion in the third period as both teams’ offenses were pushing shots to the perimeter. The lone scorer was US center Kami Craig, who found a gap between 2-3 defenders to put away the ball and give the US a 12-4 lead with 1:56 left in the period.

In the fourth quarter, KK Clark added a power play goal for the US, and her 18-year-old teammate Makenzie Fisher scored her fourth goal of the night to make it 14-4 with 3:26 to go. While the score wouldn’t change, there was some confusion in the final 1:12, when Canada’s Emma Wright was thought to have come out too soon after an exclusion, resulting in a 5-meter penalty shot. The US missed, but another 5-meter penalty ensued for an infraction by Canada’s Axelle Crevier with 1:03 remaining. At the same time Canada Head Coach David Paradelo received a red card and was ejected from the game.

The US will play Australia on Saturday in a showdown of the two undefeated teams, and Canada (2-2) will play Brazil (1-3).

United States Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson (14 saves):
“It was pretty physical. But I think we stood up to the physicality and responded well. I think we can still get better at everything. We’re going to keep building our defense, we’re going to keep pushing our offense – and our counter attack, especially.”

Canada Co-Coach Justin Oliveira:
“We started off a little bit slow on defense – slow to pressure their players. We left a lot of their players open for easy shots and easy finishes. But the second half was a different story. We showed ourselves in the second half, that we can compete with this team. At the end of the day, we believe that we can compete with all the teams in the world, especially the US. We’ve just got to put in a better first half.”