FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final
The Men’s Water Polo World League Super Final kicked off with a bang as newcomer Canada bested the 2018 silver medalists from Hungary 10-9 in the second game of the day. In other action, Croatia pounded Kazakhstan 20-4, Spain topped Japan 18-10 and host Serbia edged past Australia 12-8 in the final match after a mid-game thunderstorm delay.
- Croatia def. Kazakhstan 20-4
- Canada def. Hungary 10-9
- Spain def. Japan 18-10
- Serbia def. Australia 12-8
Pool Standings After Day 1:
Canada def. Hungary 10-9
The Canadians jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first quarter and held on for the upset win over Hungary, which had opted to rest several of its top players ahead of World Championships. At the 2017 World Championships, Hungary finished 2nd in the world. Canada was 15th at those championships, and have never been better than 8th (2009). Hungary, meanwhile, are one of the great water polo programs in history, having won 9 Olympic gold medals and 3 World Championships.
“Well, this is something we can be proud as the guys played really well,” Canadian coach Pino Porzio said. “Even though we know that the Hungarians missed their greatest stars but the funny thing is that we came here after we had been defeated by the Hungarians in our last joint practice match and we also lost three experienced players in the last week. But the youngsters we brought in did a really good job today. Actually, it’s a good push for us, though our big target is to find the path to the Olympics at the Pan American Games. It’s a good team which can achieve that though it’s going to be really strong in the next Olympic cycle.”
The Hungarians rallied from down 5-1, but Canada led 5-4 at the half and hung on as both teams netted five goals down the stretch.
Hungary narrowed the gap to 7-4 and had several chances to tie it up in the fourth quarter, but failed to cash in. A would-be goal in a man-up situation was apparently left on the table as the tournament is not using the Video Assisted Replay system, but Matyas Pasztor finally brought it level at 9-all with 1:59 to play. Just 29 seconds later, Matthew Halajlan netted the game winner for Canada in another man-up opportunity. Canadian goalkeeper Dusan Aleksic came up big down the stretch, saving a penalty shot on the next possession.
Reuel D’Souza turned in a hat trick to lead Canada, while Gaelan Patterson and Geogios Torakis scored two apiece. Aleksic saved 57.1 percent of his chances (12 of 21).
Mark Kallay netted three goals for Hungary, while Bence Batori chipped in two scores. Istvan Kardos saved 11 of the 21 shots he faced (52.4 percent).
Spain def. Japan 18-10
“It’s never easy to play the first match of a tournament especially when you meet a team like Japan,” Spanish coach David Martin said. “But my players did really well so we can now prepare in good mood for Hungary. In fact, Japan has its own style but our team also swims a lot and last year, in the Super Final in Budapest we learnt what is the best way to play against them, though it wasn’t that easy what the score might suggest.”
Spain utilized two goalkeepers with Daniel Lopez stopping 60 percent of the shots he faced (12 of 20) and Eduardo Lorrio making good on 50 percent of his four chances.
Spain had six goals in its nine extra-man opportunities, while Japan scored on all three of its penalty attempts.
After a 3-all tie through one period, Spain broke away with six goals in the second to lead 9-6 at halftime. The Spaniards poured on four more goals during the third quarter to boost their lead to seven at 14-7. The victors closed out the game with a 4-3 lead in goals in the final stanza.
Pool Standings After Day 1:
Croatia def. Kazakhstan 20-4
The Croatians led 11-2 at the half and continued to pepper Kazakhstan with goals throughout the game, including six more in the final stanza, en route to a 20-4 final score.
Ante Vukicevic put in four goals, while Andrija Basic notched a hat trick and five other players scored twice in the victory for Croatia. Marko Bijac (7 saves, 9 shots) and Ivan Marcelic (5 saves, 7 shots) came up big in goal for the team.
Miras Aubakirov scored twice to lead Kazakhstan, while Yevgeniy Medvedev and Alexey Shmider rounded out the scoring. Veleriy Shlemov saved just three of the 23 shots he faced.
Seven of Croatia’s goals came on extra-man opportunities, while Kazakhstan cashed in just one time in eight chances.
“I expected much more than this,” Kazakhstan coach Dejan Stanojevic said. “If you ask what we missed today, I can tell you: everything. We have to sit down and talk through what happened today.”
Serbia def. Australia 12-8
Australia led 5-4 after the opening period, but the skies opened and Serbia rallied for the win, outscoring the Aussies 8-3 after a thunderstorm delay to steal away the 12-8 victory.
“It was two match and preferred the first one much more,” Australian coach Elvis Fatovic said. “We knew that the Serbs would start gearing up anyway, so it wasn’t just the rain which turned this match. We committed too many mistakes, gave away easy goals, this is not the way you can beat them. Still, I’m not unhappy with what I saw today.”
Five players scored for Australia led by Nathan Power, Richard Campbell and Rhys Howden who put in two goals apiece.
Australia made good on 5 of its 12 extra man chances and its lone penalty shot, while Serbia was 4 for 8 in extra-man opportunities and scored one of its two penalties.
Australia jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Filipovic made good on his second penalty chance in the opening stanza to bring the Serbs within one at 4-3. Power countered for the Aussies, but Dusan Mandic scored with two seconds left to narrow the gap to one again (5-4). Lightning was soon spotted in the area causing a 45-minute delay in play.
After the lightning had passed, the tables turned. Serbian goalkeeper Branislav Mitrovic stopped all five Aussie shots in the second quarter, while his offense supplied two goals in extra-man situations and an action goal with 53 seconds remaining to go up 7-5.
The Serbs upped their advantage to five at 11-6 thanks to two Prlainovic scores. Howden and Campbell countered for Australia, narrowing the gap to three at 11-8. The Aussies would get no closer as Prlainovic netted the final goal with 3:32 to play.
“I think in the first period we just played softly,” Serbian coach Dejan Savic said. “I joked with the Serbian press that the storm saved us, but for sure, we had to work with the team during the break. It helped now but for tomorrow we had to improve, especially in man-downs. That was too weak today, against Croatia we have to do it much better.”
Wednesday, June 19
15:00 Japan vs. Canada
16:45 Hungary vs. Spain
19:15 Australia vs. Kazakhstan
21:00 Croatia vs. Serbia