Australia will play United States of America for the gold medal at the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Intercontinental Cup in Lima, Peru, on Sunday. In Saturday’s semifinals, the Aussie Sharks improved on the 10-9 round win over Brazil to finish 11-6 and USA beat Canada 10-9 with the same scoreline from day one. Argentina claimed fifth place, downing Colombia 15-8.
Rhodes double sweeps USA into gold-medal final
CANADA 9 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 10
Chase Dodd notched three goals for USA with Sawyer Rhodes scoring the crucial ninth and 10 goals. Dylan Woodhead grabbed the first and eighth goals and goalkeeper/captain Drew Holland pulled down a masterly 14 saves. For Canada, Jeremie Coté and Reuel D’Souza netted two apiece, the latter with the final goal 20 seconds from time.
USA opened the scoring and Canada snatched the lead at 2-1, maintained it until 5-4 several minutes into the third period and relinquished it to USA with two Dodd goals and one from Thomas Gruwell for a 7-5 USA margin. It swung back Canada’s way when D’Souza and Aleksa Gardijan levelled at 7-7 just before the final break. Goals were traded and Rhodes did the damage with his pair by 0:36, leaving only D’Souza’s final goal to give Canada any hopes of drawing the match.
Stats don’t lie
USA was diligent on attack and more precise with its shooting, netting 10 of 25 shots while Canada took an amazing 40 attempts. Both teams scored 33 per cent on extra-man attack with Canada having the better of the major fouls with nine to six. A better conversion rate could have got it across the line. USA blocked a sensational 23 shots to Canada’s seven; Canada stole 6/5 and had one less offensive while turning the ball over two to one.
USA was more composed, despite head coach Dejan Udovicic gaining a yellow card midway through the third quarter. When Canada kept chipping back and levelling at seven and eight, USA looked like it had Canada’s number and Rhodes’ two strikes were numbing, leaving a consolation goal to mark the minor difference between these teams. Both scores were 10-9, interestingly enough. USA will need to lift to beat Australia in the final and Canada will need to regroup to have the better of Brazil in the medal play-offs on Sunday. The results at this stage are inconsequential because of the nature of the tournament, but pride and the nearness of the FINA World Championships will mean all teams will be firing for positive results.
Pavillard hat-trick aids Aussie Sharks in Brazilian repeat
AUSTRALIA 11 BRAZIL 6
Australia beat Brazil for the second time in Lima, this time winning by five instead of one — 10-9 — on Wednesday. The Aussie Sharks started cleanly with four unanswered goals in the first quarter. Brazil came back with goals from old stagers Bernardo Rocha and Gustavo Guimaraes at the top of the second quarter and goals were traded to 6-4 before Keenan Marsden and co-captain Blake Edwards stretched the difference to 8-4 by halftime. Luke Pavillard, who scored the second and fifth goals on extra-man attack, then countered down the left to start the third quarter’s scoring. Bruno Chappini sent in a cruise missile from nine metres for 9-5 and Edwards scored from the deep left for 10-5 at the final break. Tom McJannett pushed in a cross-pass on the drive for 11-5 at 4:14 in the last and Rafael Real converted extra-man attack from the top right at 1:57 to close the scoring.
Aussie co-captain Nathan Power scored twice in the opening quarter, off the left post and right-post positions. Brazil used six different scorers. The statistics show that Australia made three shots less — 27/30 — and made 17 blocks to seven, which proved the vital statistic as both teams mastered the extra-man situation with 50 per cent — 5/10 to 4/8. The steals were even at five; Australia committed four offensives to one and forced Brazil into three turnovers.
Australia lost by a goal to Canada earlier in the week, but now plays USA for the gold medal as Canada will have to settle for bronze, at best, against Brazil. In the clash between the top two, Australia won 12-11 in the rounds and Canada beat Brazil 11-10.
Martino guides Argentina to fifth place
ARGENTINA 15 COLOMBIA 8
Argentina beat Colombia with a reduced margin from the rounds, showing the strong improvement in the Colombian team. Argentina won 19-4 on day two of competition and started strongly. In the first match it was 4-1 at the first break and today it was 6-1. It was 10-2 on Tuesday and 9-3 at halftime today. It was 15-2 in the first match at three quarters and today a much more manageable 12-5. Today it was 3-3 in the final period, showing Colombia now needs more competition to continue the improvement. Argentina was the form team of the two, just missing the Super Final thanks to a 12-11 Brazilian win on Friday.
For Argentina, Guido Martino was the best scorer with four — including two of the first three — and Ramiro Veich and Carlos Camnasio claimed three each. Goalkeeper Octavio Salas made a commendable 10 saves. For Colombia, Nelson Bejarano stepped up with four goals, including the 8-2 and 9-3 scores just before halftime. Argentina took four more shots than Colombia, won the extra-man battle with five from 10 compared to three from nine; headed the blocks 12/9; won the steals 11/5, but gave up three offensives to two.
It’s medal day and there are just the two matches — Canada-Brazil for bronze and USA-Australia for gold.