Penalty shootout leaves Aussies Water Polo team unfilled

AOC: They came to Rio with gold in their sights, but for the Australian women’s water polo team that wasn’t to be after a devastating loss in the quarter final.

The Aussies were forced into a penalty shootout against the Hungarians, after scores were locked 8-8 at the end of regular time. Post London Olympics rules now dictate that there is no overtime but rather teams head straight into a penalty shootout.

While the Aussies have traditionally performed well under the high pressure, one on one, penalty shootouts, luck wasn’t on their side going down to Hungary 11-13.

For three time Olympian and team Captain Bronwen Knox, the loss probably hit her hardest as the player who missed the penalty shootout.

But upon reflection of that fatal game, Knox admitted that is wasn’t the missed goal that she continues to replay.

“My regret isn’t the penalty shootout. My regret is more there a few little instances in that game where I could have done a little better. Like in the last minute I had a counter attack and I probably could have made more of so we didn’t go to penalty shootout,” Knox said.

The water polo team shared the same fate of the Australian Women’s Soccer Team who also were knocked out after the penalty shootout.

While Knox admitted the team shouldn’t have let it come down to a penalty shootout, she did believe personally that playing extra time better suited team sports like water polo.

“I do feel like extra time is a better way to decide a match because it relies on teams to pick up and put in the hard yards, rather than it coming down to a one off shot and you’re lucky or you’re unlucky… it becomes a game of inches.

“It makes it more of a team win or a team loss rather than that one person carrying that loss on their shoulders for the rest of their life,” she said.

In the case of the Aussies, that one person is Knox. But she also admitted she knew coming into this Olympic Games just how tough the task ahead of them was going to be.

“We always say that the top ten teams in the world on any given day can be number one.

“While it is extremely disappointing where we finished, when you see teams like Russia who we beat 11-4 come away with a bronze medal, it shows just how close this competition is,” she said.

The Australians kicked off their campaign in style, defeating Russia (who went on to claim bronze) 11-4 in a dominant style that the Aussies are known for.

Game two is where the Aussies fell short when they played a strong, defensive Italian outfit who are known for their aggressive playing style.

It was a strong return to form in the final match against Brazil where the Aussies were able to block the huge home crowd to take a decisive 10-3 win.

“This team had a lot of potential and unfortunately we only showed small glimpses of it in some games and we should have been a bit more consistent in our performances.

“Our extra man let us down in a lot of games and that showed in our last game against Spain where we finished sixth,” Knox said.

The Captain believes the closeness of the international women’s water polo will mean that Australia is likely to be back on top soon.

“Towards Tokyo it will be a big rebuilding I think a few girls this will be their last hit out, so we’ll see what youngsters are coming through. We will be back up there, I think within 12months at the next World Championships.”

Australia finished in sixth place overall.

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