Canada tests the waters in first Canada Cup game against Australia

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Water Polo Canada 2

December 4, 2013, Gatineau (ISN) – Canada’s senior women water polo team held its own against a powerful opponent on December 3, narrowly missing the victory in a game that ended in an 9-8 win for the Australian national team.

The game was the second matchup scheduled during the Canada Cup, a double round robin international tournament hosted in Gatineau, Quebec from December 2 to 8, 2013.

In the first quarter, Australia started out with a single goal but an effective Canadian defense kept the adversary from pulling away further. The Aussies managed a second goal around the five minute mark in the second period but the Canadians replied with two of their own, to end the first half of the game in a 2-2 tie.

In the third quarter, Canada initially kept pace with its opponent, then took a 5-3 lead following goals from Krystina Alogbo and Joelle Bekhazi. The Australians caught up, then were surprised by Stephanie Valin’s successful last second shot which ended the period 6-5 for Canada.

Australia fired up the offense in the last period of play by scoring three unanswered goals and regaining an 8-6 lead. The Canadian women’s continued effort however resulted once again in a nail-biting tie with under ten seconds left on the game clock. Australia’s Rowena Webster claimed the victory for her team with a stunning shot, delivered just as regulation time was ending.

Joelle Bekhazi, of Pointe-Claire, QC, had three goals in the game and veteran Christine Robinson, of Lachine, QC, recorded two. Montrealers Krystina Alogbo and Stephanie Valin each scored once, as did Carmen Eggens from Pitt Meadow, B.C.

On the Australian side, four goals were recorded by Rowena Webster. Teammates Isobel Bishop and Bronwen Knox each scored 2 goals and Zoe Arancini rounded up the winning total with a single goal of her own.

Despite the loss, Canada offered a positive performance throughout the night. For both teams, these initial Canada Cup games were a first opportunity to play together in an international event since the World Aquatic Championships in Barcelona last summer where Australia finished second and Canada finished eighth.

“We are actually playing a lot of young athletes this week and it is great to be able to give them some significant experience. I am pleased with how we played on the defense and counter attack. It was a close game,” said Canadian head coach Guy Baker.

Canada is now set to play the American national team, champion of the 2012 London Olympics, on Wednesday, December 4 for game #3 of the tournament. The match will start at 6:45 p.m. at the Centre sportif de Gatineau

For results of the 2013 Women’s Canada Cup: http://www.waterpolo.ca/ScheduleResult.aspx?sid=25

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