Group A — Budapest


Canada turned an 8-2 halftime lead into a 22-2 victory against the inexperienced Colombians. It was an interesting match earlier on when, at 3-1 ahead, Canada was stymied seven times straight by the defensive Colombians. However, goals were hard to come by for Colombia and especially when Canada managed to get into rhythm and keep head coach David Paradelo happy.

Match heroes
Hayley McKelvey was the standout shooter for Canada and gained top-player accolades. Her strongest showing was the three consecutive goals — two from the two-metres line — to open the match and later she added another couple. Verica Bakoc stamped her authority with four goals and Axelle Crevier and Kyra Christmas pumped in three each. Colombian goalkeeper Sara Agudelo made eight saves in a tortuous day.

Turning points
The opening three goals and, I must say, Colombia’s seven-attack defence, really rattled the Canadians. Canada then went five straight, gave up a penalty to Valentina Restrepo and then swam away with the match.

Stats Don’t Lie
This match was not about extra-man plays, although Canada nailed all three attempts and Colombia missed two. Canada scored four on counter, but generally plundered everything it could around the pool.

Bottom line
Canada now has three points after the heroic 7-7 draw with Italy on day one and can look forward to going deep into the tournament. For Colombia, it is another experience at the highest level.

What they said
David Paradelo (CAN) — Head Coach
“It was a preparation for the next game; it is difficult to play a game like this. For Colombia, this is the first (FINA) World Championships. Next game, against Hungary? We are here to win every single game, one by one. It is gonna be a hard game; they have a very good team; play very well. We have seen them in February when we had a training together. I think it is gonna be a good battle.”
Hayley McKelvey (CAN) — Five Goals nd MVP
“We played a good team game. We were really looking for extra passes and everybody worked hard, so I think it was a good entrance. We have to focus on what we have done in the last two games, fixing those little things and preparing for the game with Hungary. I love to be here. I was at the 2017 World Championships. It is good to be playing here and the atmosphere is awesome.”
Bladimir Lopez (COL) — Head Coach
“For us, this is a positive result compared to the game against Hungary. We were able to develop our game. I am satisfied with it. On Friday, we will play against Italy. We have the opportunity to build on our team. During the next round we are going to play teams like our level. We would like to perform our best.”
Carolina Ortega (COL) — Goal Scorer
“At first, I thought the game was very good for us. We were focused and had good defence. After all, I think we had a good game. During the next game the focus will be as important as now. It will be hard, but we are going to do our best. This championship is a good chance to improve our skills. For the Columbian water polo, it is a good impression.”


It was not the result that the host nation wanted. The full house was rousing throughout, but the noise subsided somewhat in the dying minutes. It was one of the matches for the ages and continues the extremely close nature of this group and the top level of women’s water polo, in particular. Hungary opened the scoring and looked confident at 2-0 ahead. Goals were then traded to 4-3 at the first break. Italy levelled the match at four, five, six (just after halftime) and went into the lead at 7-6 and 8-7. It was Dorottya Szilagyi who scored twice on extra to level at seven and eight with 4:31 remaining. Then the guillotine dropped for Hungary when Sofia Giustini, on extra-man attack, and Chiara Tabani, from about 10m, had the match firmly in Italy’s grip at 3:08. Both teams took a timeout and Hungary twice sent goalkeeper Alda Magyari into the fray with only the second attempt causing any confusion to allow captain Rita Keszthelyi to gain her lone goal with eight seconds remaining for 10-9 — too late to appease the demanding crowd.

Match heroes
Claudia Marletta and Silvia Avegno were the only two multiple scorers for Italy with another six keeping the table secretary busy. But it was the whole Italian defence that was the star of the match, especially at the sharp end of the match as Hungary thrust forward time and again and could not get the ball to the line as often as it wanted.

Turning point
Two goals at the start of the third period. Italy came up with more zest and chomped into the attack, scoring through Giuditta Galardi and Marletta. From 6-5 down, Italy was 7-6 ahead. Even when Szilagyi was levelling, it looked like Italy was going to take home the two points.

Stats don’t lie
Italy converted seven from nine on extra-man attack and Hungary seven from 13. There is the result of the match. Goalkeeper Caterina Banchelli stopped eight Hungarian shots and Magyari just four.

Bottom Line
Italy seemed to want it more. Hungary looked really strong early on and earned the respect of the crowd, but as the match unfolded, Italy was seen picking at the pieces and snapping up goals when needed. Italy will take the group and earn direct access to the quarter-finals, as long as it steps over unbeaten Colombia on Friday.

What they said
Carlo Silipo (ITA) — Head Coach
“The team is always the key; when the team plays together, it could win after all. This game is really important for the future of the tournament. We prepared very well for this game, but it was just the first step; later we should do even better. The last group game with Columbia couldn’t be a fail for us; this is the only possibility to achieve our goals. I don’t know if it is possible to see each other with the Hungarian team in the later part of this competition, but it will be good for us.”
Domitilla Picozzi (ITA) — Goal Scorer
“I am really excited now; we scored amazing goals; tonight was great. We are happy because it was a tough game; we played well, until the last action. This was the first step, and now we have to continue like this. To stay focused at every single action, that was a key. The crowd was huge, but we stayed focused altogether. The last group game will be useful to practise our skills, our actions.”

Attila Biro (HUN) — Head Coach (above)
“The start was fine and we played effectively in the last moments of the extra-player situations, scoring four goals out of five or six chances. Then we were unlucky in defence, and at the beginning of the second half our dynamic broke. We know that against Italy in this situation it is very hard to keep the lead. Later we had opportunities to score goals, but we missed them, we lost our concentration, made wrong decisions. Italy deserved the victory. The next game will be as difficult as this was. Canada is on the same level as Italy.”
Vanda Valyi (HUN) — Goal Scorer
“Maybe tomorrow we will be cleverer while analysing this game… Anyway, the Italian team played better than us and since we didn’t take a normal shot in the last period, there was no chance to win. They made the best of their chances. We were scared of their M-zone, that is why we didn’t have the bravery to crack their defence.” 

Group Progress Points: Italy 3, Canada 3, Hungary 2, Colombia 0.