Canada edges France to reach quarters


Michel Belanger

July 12, 2013, KAZAN, Russia (Team Canada) (ISN)– The Canadian women’s water polo team held off a late comeback from France Friday afternoon to score a 9-8 quarter-final win and advance to the Final Four at the Summer Universiade for the second time in program history.

The Canadians will face either Japan or Hungary in Sunday’s semifinals at 8 p.m. local time (noon ET). Since the sport has been added to the FISU Games program in 2009, the red and white took fourth place in the inaugural tournament in Belgrade, Serbia, and finished sixth in 2011 in Shenzhen, China. 

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Against the French, Canada led 3-1 after the first quarter, 6-4 at halftime and 8-5 after three periods. Up 9-5 with six minutes to go, the Canadians saw their rivals score three times late in the contest but managed to hold on.

In the final minute of regulation, a Canadian goal was waived off due to an offensive foul, giving France one last possession with 40 seconds on the clock.

“We followed the game plan from start to finish and Jessica [Gaudreault] made a key save to preserve the lead for us,” said head coach Andrew Robinson. “We got off to a great start. You could feel in the warm-up that the girls were fired up. Our next game will be quite a challenge but we’re getting better every day.”

France also got to within one, at 6-5, in the second quarter. The Canadians then took control with three unanswered goals. Rae Lekness of Calgary (San Jose State University) and Shae Fournier of Winnipeg (Indiana) both completed a hat trick on the sequence.

“Each goal gave us renewed energy,” Fournier said. “We were confident because we have a great group of girls. We complement each other really well because we all bring something different to the table.”

Rebekka Steenkamer of Ottawa (Concordia) scored the game-winner early in the fourth stanza. Kelly McKee of Calgary and Alexa Tielmann of Abbotsford, B.C., also found the back of the net.

Winning keeper Jessica Gaudreault of Ottawa (Indiana) made four saves, while Lou Counil blocked eight shots for France.

BOXSCORE: Canada vs France