The Australian and USA water polo test match series has wrapped up at Kawana Aquatics Centre on the Sunshine Coast with the USA women claiming a 2-nil series victory and the men’s team sharing the series after one win each.
Sunshine Coast locals and Brisbane fans turned out in force on Good Friday to be entertained with some quality water polo.
Like the first match, the Aussie Stingers found themselves behind at halftime, however a 7-3 deficit did not reflect the pace and skill level on display from the Australians.
Locked at 10-all midway through the last quarter, Sunshine Coast locals rallied behind their home team, but it was not enough with two late fourth quarter goals crucial for USA’s 12-10 win.
Aussie Stingers captain and Rio Olympian Zoe Arancini was pleased with the sings from her team heading into next week’s FINA World League Intercontinental Tournament in New Zealand.
“We made a good effort in the third quarter coming back and kept with them (USA) until about halfway through the fourth quarter, it shows we are very resilient and that we can regroup and move forward when we need to.
“Our start was better today, but our second quarter wasn’t so great, we have to work on four consistent quarters and capatlise on our opportunities,” she said.
Aussie Stingers team mate, three time Olympian and proud Queenslander Bronwen Knox is ecstatic to be back playing international water polo after a having a significant break after Rio.
“It’s great to be back in the water, I’m really happy with my first two games but there are still bits I want to work on.
“I’ve felt really welcome back into the team and I feel like I am settling well into the new structure which is always a big fear after stepping away, but it gets easier and easier each day.
“Today was definitely an improvement from yesterday, these are the first two games on the international season and we’re just getting into the flow of the things and stepping up from national league to international games is always a big step.”
“What I liked about tonight was we showed a lot of spirit and a lot of heart, sometimes when you get five goals behind you can just give up and pack it away, but we just kept chipping away,” she said.
After an enthralling spectacle in the women’s match the men’s teams kept local fans who were packed to the rafters delighted.
Richie Campbell and Blake Edwards led the way early with some powerful goal scoring, however USA kept within touching distance to enter halftime locked at 6-all.
A tense fourth quarter which saw USA gain momentum after scoring consecutive goals, the Aussie Sharks steeled themselves to go on and win the match by a single goal, 13-12.
Aussie Sharks victorious head coach, Elvis Fatovic, has relished what the overall week has been able to offer his team ahead of New Zealand.
“It was a really good week for us here on the Sunshine Coast, this has been the second camp for us in the last four years so we may not have come in the perfect shape, but Americans have proved to be a good opponent for us.
“At the end (in the fourth quarter) the team reacted well to a tense situation, we should’ve finished the game a lot earlier but we need games like this where it is very close.
“In my opinion it was much better than yesterday, when we have an intention to do something as a team like we did today I don’t have a problem when we concede that many goals,” he said.
Aussie Sharks captain and Olympian Joe Kayes supported coach Fatovic’s sentiment about the benefits from training in the region.
“The Sunshine Coast is brilliant for our training camps, the weather is perfect and the accommodation is nice, there hasn’t been one stress during the week except going up and down with the Americans.”
“The biggest change was our attitude, yesterday we had a slower approach so the whole plan of attack today was to come out with a home game mentality and be really focused on our team plays and bring the attitude we know is important to win these sorts of games.
“The young boys are learning really quickly, we’ve struggled over the years adapting to the pace of the international water polo so making that first step is really important,” he said.
All test matches from Thursday March 29 and Friday March 30 can be watched again via OVOPlay.
Both Australian teams now head to Auckland, New Zealand to compete in the FINA World League Intercontinental Tournament which forms part of World League finals qualification from April 3-8.