FINA World Championships: Canada bests South Africa in opening game

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Louis Daignault (ISN)

July 22, 2013, Barcelona, (ISN) – Canada’s World Championship run in the men’s water polo tournament started on a positive note on Monday with a 17-11 (4:2, 2:3, 7:4, 4:2) victory against South Africa in the first of their three preliminary round games in Barcelona, Spain.

With 10 members of the squad having played on the World Championship team in Shanghai in 2011 and featuring three newcomers, the Canadian roster displayed a combination of experience and youthful energy. The win was a team effort with 8 players appearing on the scoresheet. Nicolas Constantin-Bicari, a 21-one-year-old Repentigny, Quebec resident, led his team’s charge with four goals during the match.

“Our defensive game was not very solid in the first half but we were playing in the official competition pool here in Barcelona for the first time and we needed to break the ice,” Constantin-Bicari said. “We pulled together in the second half and were able to organize the attack and also perform better defensively. We are happy with our own 17 points but we will definitely work on how we can limit goals against us before the next games,” he said.

Oliver Vikalo, from Calgary and team captain Kevin Graham, from Regina, recorded three goals each while Montrealers Justin Boyd and Devon Diggle both registered two. Jared McElroy of Calgary and his teammates John Conway and Alec Taschereau, both from Ottawa, completed the count for the Canadians.

It was a first goal in a major international competition for Taschereau, 19, who also attended the team’s recent training camp in Serbia. “I was pretty calm before the game started,” he said. “Travelling and playing with the team earlier this year really helped me build some confidence. After I realized there was an opportunity to get into a 2-on-1 situation in the last seconds of the third quarter, I just swam as fast as I could to get in position, and then the opportunity opened up for the shot. I was relieved and happy to finally get to score during a big game like this one.”

Confidence will come in handy for Canada on Wednesday, July 24 when they are set to face 2012 Olympic gold winner and traditional powerhouse Croatia. The Canadians will meet their second opponents in the World Championships’ preliminary round at 10:50 local time (4:50 EDT).

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