Both the Aussie Sharks and Aussie Stingers have successfully qualified for the FINA World League Super Finals after silver medal performances at last week’s FINA World League Intercontinental Cup Tournament in Auckland, New Zealand.
In the Sharks gold medal match against USA Elvis Fatovic’s men were within touching distance throughout the match and a one goal all second quarter gave USA a slim margin at halftime, 4-3.
An early third quarter goal from captain Aaron Younger to level scores at four all as well as a second half double from Joe Kayes wasn’t enough for the Australian team with USA claiming gold 9-6.
Kayes netted 20 goals across the Sharks four matches in the six day tournament.
Fatovic declared the Aussie Sharks Sunshine Coast week long training camp as an important part in their New Zealand performances.
“Our last camp was before the FINA World Championships in Budapest (July 2017), we usually have a camp before a big tournament like this and it is usually with the USA team. The Sunshine Coast camp provided lots of benefits to our team for this week and was a huge help for us.
“They are a very strong American team and we know each other very well, sometimes different individuals can step up, but we didn’t expect too much different from the USA team in the gold medal match because they have quality right across the board.
“We played well in both direction throughout the whole tournament which made me happy,” he said.
The Aussie Stingers played a match every day since the tournament began on April 3 with three group matches, a quarterfinal, semi-final and then the gold medal match.
A first quarter double from Isobel Bishop, followed by one goal in the second quarter for Bishop and Hannah Buckling put the Stingers in front 5-3 at halftime.
Bishop’s four goal game was not enough in the end with USA Olympian Kaleigh Gilchrist and USA rising star Stephania Haralabidis each claiming a double to turn the game on its head culminating in a gold medal for the Americans, 10-7.
Stingers head coach Sakis Kechagias was satisfied with his player’s energy and effort levels in the whole tournament and compared their overall progress towards Tokyo 2020 to an orchestra.
“The goal at the beginning of the week was to get better each day and progress our way of playing.
“Comparing the team to an orchestra, it is normal at this stage not to be as consistent as we want to be because to reach the consistency we are striving for we need to conduct a lot of trial and error.
“The most important thing for us is to be ready when we have to be at the end of this process at the next Olympic Games,” he said.
West Australian Lilian Hedges was judged best goalkeeper at the tournament and selected in the tournament team. Hedges was joined in the tournament team by Keesja Gofers.
Aussie Sharks captain Aaron Younger was awarded MVP at the end of the tournament even after not playing in their first match on Tuesday due to international travel.
Younger and Joe Kayes performed strongly throughout the tournament and were rewarded with selection in the tournament team.
Both of the Aussie Sharks and Aussie Stingers performances in New Zealand ranked them in second position at the tournament and mean they have both successfully qualified for the FINA World League Super Finals.
The men’s super final will be conducted from June 18-23, whilst the women will compete in the super final from May 28 – June 2.
Aussie Sharks road to the World League Intercontinental Cup 2018 finals
Group game 1 – won, 20-2 vs NZL (2)
Group game 2 – won, 15-8 vs CAN
Group game 3 – won, 16-7 vs ARG
Group Game 4 – won, 21-6 vs KAZ
Gold medal match – lost, 9-6 vs USA
Aussie Stingers road to the World League Intercontinental Cup 2018 finals
Group game 1 – won, 9-8 vs USA
Group game 2 – won, 10-3 vs KAz
Group game 3 – won, 20-2 NZL (2)
Quarter Finals – won, 15-4 vs NZL
Semi Finals – won, 8-7 vs CHN
Gold medal match – lost, 10-7 vs USA
Catch up and watch replays from any international match in the past two weeks via OVOPlay.