GWANGJU, South Korea (Team Canada) – The Canadian women’s water polo team continued its stellar play at the Universiade by defeating Italy by a 7-5 score in the semi-final game on Saturday night. Canada (6-0) will meet Australia (5-0-1) at 8 p.m. (7 a.m. ET) on July 13.
Canada held Italy scoreless in the fourth period and protected a two-goal lead for six and a half minutes. The win guarantees Canada its first Universiade medal in water polo since it entered competition in 2009.
“The passion and the heart that we have on this team is contagious,” said Kelly McKee (Calgary, Alta.). “I knew that with the two goal difference we could keep that cushion. We’re very excited to play the gold medal game.”
Italy opened the scoring six and a half minutes into the game on a penalty shot. Canada tied things up to start the second on a long shot from the middle by Kelly McKee (Calgary, Alta.) after a pair of key saves by Nicola Colterjohn (Hamilton, Ont.) Colterjohn made 15 saves in the game.
Throughout the rest of the first half, each time Italy pulled ahead Canada had the answer. The game was tied 1-1, 2-2, and 3-3 before McKee gave Canada a 4-3 edge with a close range goal just before the halftime buzzer.
Italy pulled even again at 4-4 before Kindred Paul (Spruce Grove, Alta.) fired a long shot from the top into the net. That lead held for the next two minutes despite two crossbar shots from Italy and Kyra Christmas added a goal for Canada on the power play.
Italy got one back on the power play with 8 seconds left in the third, sending the teams into the final period with the score at 6-5.
Axelle Crevier scored a beautiful quick-touch deflection goal in front of the net with 6:32 remaining to give the red and white a cushion. The Canadian defence forced Italy to use a lot of the possession clock and held them scoreless for the remainder of the game. In the final minute, Canada took care of the ball after Italy hit the crossbar with a shot.
“It was about hard blocking and discipline,” said Canada’s head coach, David Paradello (Montreal, Que.). “They stepped up with the blocks – they were high up and there was no space.”
CANADA’S ALL-TIME UNIVERSIADE RESULTS IN WOMEN’S WATER POLO:
2013 (Kazan, Russia): 4th / 8 teams
2011 (Shenzhen, China): 6th / 9
2009 (Belgrade, Serbia): 4th / 8