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Stingers finish Fourth at World Champs
11 August 2015

Fourth in the world for Athlete Facilitator Gemma Beadsworth at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

This article first appeared on the WAIS website (www.wais.org.au). 

 

Australia has finished fourth in the women's water polo competition at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia after suffering a gut wrenching 12-10 penalty shootout loss to Italy in the bronze medal decider.

 

The teams were locked together at 7-all at the conclusion of regulation time but the Italians converted all five of their penalty shots to take the win.

 

The penalty shootout loss came just four days after Australia won the deciding post game shootout in their quarterfinal against China.

 

Australian head coach Greg McFadden said the game was probably one that got away, the Stingers with enough chances to put the game out of Italy’s reach before it ever got to a penalty decider.

 

"We should have won the game before the penalties,” lamented McFadden.

 

"We had a lot of good opportunities early in the game and we didn’t convert them. One on none’s really cost us, extraman at the end cost us.

 

"It was disappointing because our game was quite good but our execution was poor.

 

"The girls tried hard. We didn’t give in and that’s a positive. It’s a positive about our team, we’re always in there for the fight.”

 

The game began ominously for the Australians with Nicola Zagame twice missing the chance to score when one on one with the goalkeeper on the counter attack but some stout defence and a handful of Italian turnovers allowed Australia to steady the ship with goals from Rowie Webster, a backhander at centre forward, and Ash Southern, in extraman.

 

As time ticked into the last few minutes of the term, Italy’s top goalscorer this tournament, Roberta Bianconi, got one back in extra that was quickly followed by another man-up goal by Arianna Garibotti, and a centre forward strike by Rosaria Aiello to ensure the Italians had the lead at quarter time.

 

Just 45 seconds into the second period Webster snatched her second, in extraman, but the Italians replied with a pair to captain Tania Di Mario and held a 5-3 advantage at the main break.

 

The third quarter started with a volley of turnovers before Zagame scored with a shot off the post in extraman that dribbled across the goal line to bring the Stingers back to within one. It took a further four minutes, but Southern drew Australia level taking a great pass from goalkeeper Kelsey Wakefield in counter attack to turn and shoot a laser from six metres.

 

With a quarter to play it was 5-all and the bronze medal was well and truly up for grabs.


Australia and WAIS athlete Glencora McGhie struck first blood as the clock wound down on the Stingers’ first possession of the stanza, but Italy evened it up at six-a-piece a few minutes later via Di Mario on extraman after Australian skipper Bronwen Knox was ejected for the remained of the game for her third major foul.

 

Hannah Buckling scored next for Australia with a composed shot on the post in extraman but again Italy tied the scores in man-up play.

 

Australian coach Greg McFadden then called a time out after an Italian player was excluded with two and a half minutes left in the game but Australia couldn’t capitalise, nor could they a minute later when Holly Lincoln-Smith found herself one-on-one with the goalie on the counter attack, or when Zagame forced an Italian ejection with 53 seconds left and the teams were headed to a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

 

The decision involving Zagame was puzzling to many. Most in the pool expected a 5 metre penalty to be called in Zagame’s favour but instead it was just an exclusion.

 

In the shootout, Di Mario scored first for Italy and then Southern, Webster and Gemma Beadsworth (WAIS) all matched their Italian counterparts in scoring, keeping the Stingers in the match until Buckling had her shot saved. Australian goalkeeper Kelsey Wakefield, who had come into the match in the second quarter then had the unenviable task of stopping Garibotti’s final shot for Italy to give Australia’s final shooter Bronte Halligan a chance. Unfortunately for the Stingers, it wasn’t to be.

 

A very disappointed Australian captain Bronwen Knox was blunt in her assessment of the result.

 

"We had our opportunities in the game but we just didn’t put them away and to finish on a penalty shootout absolutely sucks,” Knox said.

 

"There’s just no other words for it. Everybody put their heart into it but we just missed our opportunities in the game.”

 

Following the tournament, WAIS athlete Zoe Arancini was named on the FINA World All Stars team, in recognition of her outstanding form for Australia throughout the tournament.

 

-WaterPoloAus

   
 
 
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