The Australian Women’s Water Polo Team have claimed gold at the FINA World League Intercontinental Tournament after a solid 10-7 win over the USA.
The first international tournament since the Rio 2016 Olympics, a new look Aussie Stingers stepped up to the challenge throughout the week, claiming wins against China, Japan, Canada and Kazakhstan.
The win not only provides a boost for the side as they kick off their Tokyo 2020 campaign, but it also secures them a start at the FINA World League Super Final in China next month as the team builds towards the World Championships in Budapest in July.
Dual Olympian and Aussie Stingers Captain Rowie Webster was pleased her side was able to come away with the gold medal and was impressed by the younger players that delivered on debut.
“It is really exciting to get a new group of girls together and then come up with the gold medal,” said Webster.
“We’ve got a lot of building to do but it’s a good confidence boost going into World League Finals next month.”
Ever since the memorable Australia verse USA gold medal game at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, the two nations have shared a fierce rivalry, and Webster admitted on their home turf the USA were always going to be dangerous.
“We had a really good start with Elle (Armit) scoring two goals from centre-forward which allowed our attack to come in nice and close.
“It was always going to be a tough ask, they came back in the fourth quarter but we sealed the deal with a few late goals,” she said.
Less than 24 hours earlier, the Aussies had lost to the USA in a penalty shoot during the final round robin. But learning from their mistakes, the teamed back up and weren’t about to let history repeat itself.
Today the Aussies again got off a strong start but the USA didn’t let them run away with the game, only ever one to two goals behind them.
With three minutes to go in the final quarter, scores were locked 7-7. But the Aussies weren’t about to let a penalty shoot out decide the game again, scoring three unanswered goals, two in the final minute of the game, to claim gold against the favourites.
One of the newer faces to the Stingers outfit Elle Armit, lead goal scorer for the Aussies today, admitted the team didn’t change too much after the loss to the USA the previous day.
“We didn’t change a lot from yesterday, we just made sure our defence was really solid so that going into attack we had a good base and weren’t surprising anyone so we weren’t giving anything back the other way.
“It’s great to get a win at the start of a new (Olympic) cycle,” she said.
Under new Head Coach Sakis Kechagias, the young Aussie Stingers team managed to take on the challenge of an international tournament, putting them in a positive position as they officially kick off their Tokyo 2020 campaign.
“I want to congratulate the players for their efforts over days, starting with our camp in Canberra at the AIS.
“We showed day by day improvements and I think it will help with confidence for this team in the future.
“Today we kept pace, kept our mind on the game and stuck to our plan. From tomorrow we will start work on areas we want to improve on ahead of the World League Super Final,” he said.
The Aussie Stingers arrive back in Australia tomorrow with a week off before heading into camp ahead of their China Tour for the Kunshan Cup and the World League Super Final.
- Australia, 2. United States, 3. Canada, 4. Japan, 5. Kazakhstan, 6. China
AUSTRALIA 10 d UNITED STATES 7
Quarters: 2-0, 1-2, 3-1, 4-4.
Extra Man: AUS 1/5. USA 3/8.
Pens: AUS 1/1. USA 1/2.
Goal scorers: Keesja Gofers (3), Hannah Buckling (1), Elle Armit (4), Rowie Webster (2)