WPWL Men’s Intercontinental Tourn., Day 3: Group play ends, quarterfinals set

World League

Wp genDay 3 at the FINA Men’s Water Polo World League Intercontinental Tournament in Newport Beach, California, was crucial because it set up Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Although the tournament concludes on Saturday, the teams that win on Thursday will automatically advance to the FINA World League Super Final in Bergamo, Italy, from June 23-28.

In Group A, Canada earned the top ranking with a 20-10 victory over Japan to remain undefeated. The US ranked No. 2 after beating Argentina, 19-8, in group play despite a tight first period. That left Japan ranked third with one victory and two losses. Argentina, in fourth, had three losses.

In Group B, Australia topped the standings with a perfect 3-0 record after defeating China, 10-3, on Wednesday thanks in part to impressive goalkeeping by James Stanton-French. Meanwhile, Brazil beat Kazakhstan, 10-7, to move into the No. 2 slot with one two wins and one loss. Kazakhstan took the third berth, ahead of China who had yet to win a game.

Quarters: 1-2, 6-1, 1-2, 2-2

Extra Man: BRA: 5/9.  KAZ: 4/11.
Pens: KAZ 1/1.

BRAZIL:  Vincius Antonelli, Jonas Crivello, Guilherme Gomes, Ruda Franco, Paulo Salemi, Bernardo Gomes, Adria Delgado (3), Felipe Silva (1), Bernardo Rocha (1), Felipe Perrone (3), Gustavo Guimaraes (2), Danilo Correa, Thye Mattos. Head Coach: Ratko Rudic.
KAZAKHSTAN: Madikhan Mahmetov, Sergey Gubarev (1), Maxim Zhardan, Yevgeniy Medvedev (2), Vladimir Ushakov, Aleksandr Godovanyuk, Murat Shakenov, Anton Koliadenko, Rustam Ukumanov (1), Yulian Verdesh, Ravil Manafov, Branko Pekovich (3), Valeriy Shlemov. Head Coach: Sergey Markoch.

On the last day of group play, Brazil and Kazakhstan were both trying to improve their 1-1 records. Kazakhstan took an early lead on Wednesday, but Brazil scored six times in the second period en route to a 10-7 triumph.

The first period began with Kazakhstan initiating a 2-0 lead on a power play goal by Yevgeniy Medvedev and a penalty shot by Rustam Ukumanov. Brazil answered with 1:15 remaining to make it 2-1. In the second period, Adria Delgado added three goals for Brazil – one to tie it at 2-2, another to tie it at 3, and go-ahead goal to make it 4-3 Brazil. Bernardo Rocha, Filipe Perrone, and Gustavo Guimaraes added one goal apiece and Brazil’s string of five unanswered goals took the 2016 Olympic host to a 7-3 lead at halftime. By then, Brazil had outshot Kazakhstan 22 to 10 and scored on 5 of 7 exclusions.

In the third period, Kazakhstan scored twice and limited Brazil to one goal, yet Brazil led 8-5 entering the fourth quarter. Each team scored twice more to finish 10-7, Brazil.

Brazil will face Japan in Thursday’s quarterfinal; Kazakhstan will meet the U.S.

BRA-KAZ - Photo credit: Aimee Berg

Ratko Rudic (BRA) – Head Coach of Brazil

“We played a very organised defense. The players were disciplined. We had a lot of occasions we didn’t score on everything we could. But Kazakhstan is experienced. Our players are less experienced, so for us it was a great controlled game. If we continue like this we can expect some other good results.”

Gustavo Guimaraes (BRA) – Two goals for Brazil
“It was a very fun game. It was the last one of the group, so it was very important to us to finish in second place. Now we need to see Japan play – to see who the good players are so tomorrow we can play a good game and qualify to the Super Final.”

GAME 10: 17:00, CANADA 20 JAPAN 10

Quarters: 4-2, 4-3, 6-3, 6-2

Extra Man: CAN: 6/7. JPN: 4/12.
Pens: CAN: 2/2. JPN: 1.1.

CANADA: Robin Randall, Constantin Kudaba, Oliver Vikalo (3), David Lapins (4), Justin Boyd, Scott Robinson, Alec Taschereau (3), Kevin Graham (1), Dusan Radojcic (1), John Conway (5), George Torakis (1), Jared McElroy (2), Dusan Aleksic. Head Coach: Alex Breslin.
JAPAN: Katsuyuki Tanamura, Seiya Adachi, Atsashi Arai, Mitsuaki Shiga (1), Akira Yanase, Yuta Hemmi (1), Yusuke Shimizu (3), Yuki Kadono (1), Koji Takei (3), Kenya Yasuda, Keigo Okawa (1), Atsuto Iida, Tomoyoshi Fukushima. Head Coach: Yoji Omoto.

In a 30-goal game between Canada and Japan, Japan’s slow passing left it unable to convert on 75% of its exclusions and get the win it needed to move into second place in Group A.

In the first half, Canada and Japan were even on shooting, with 16 apiece. But Canada scored on all three of its power play opportunities (including twice by John Conway), while Japan converted on only two power plays. At halftime, Canada led 8-5.

In the third period, Canada pulled away with five unanswered goals to open a 13-5 lead punctuated by Dusan Radojcic’s power play goal. Japan’s Koji Takei put Japan back on the board with an unassisted goal then scored on a penalty shot for a hat trick. The two teams traded one goal apiece in the last 22 seconds to close the third period 14-8 in Canada’s favor. In the fourth quarter saw John Conway score his fourth and fifth goals of the night for Canada, and four other Canadians add goals. Japan earned two more goals on power plays, but the deficit was too great and Canada prevailed 20-10.

Canada will meet China in Thursday’s quarterfinal; Japan will play Brazil.

CAN-JPN - Photo credit: Aimee Berg

John Conway (CAN) – Five goals for Canada

“We played our game plan solidly, and that helped us through a team like Japan which brings a lot of energy. [What was the game plan?] A lot of ball control. They like to steal balls and they put on a lot of pressure, so ball control was definitely key.”

Yusuke Shimizu (JPN) – Three goals for Japan

“Our exclusion shoot situation was no good in this game. We must [fix it] tomorrow, because the important game is tomorrow. [Why was Japan unable to convert on exclusions?] I think everyone has small body and it’s not good if the ball is high. And we need quicker passing. [Did you hurt your left eye in the fourth quarter?] It’s okay. I think this bone [right chest] is broken from training in the US at university – from kicking. But I must play.”

GAME 11: 18:30, AUSTRALIA 10 CHINA 3

Quarters: 4-0, 2-3, 2-0, 2-0

Extra Man: AUS: 2/7. CHN: 0/9
Pens: AUS: 1/1. CHN: 1/1.

AUSTRALIA: James Stanton-French, Richie Campbell (1), George Ford, Johnno Cotterill (1), Nathan Power (2), Jarrod Gilchrist, Aidan Roach (1), Lachlan Edwards, Joel Swift (2), Tyler Martin (1), Rhys Howden, Billy Miller (2), James Clark. Head Coach: Elvis Fatovic.
CHINA:  Wu Honghui, Tan Feihu, Sha Shi, Yu Li Jun, Liu Xiao, Li Li, Chen Zhongxian, Dong Tao, Xie Zekoi, Chen Jinghao, Zhang Chufeng (2), Liang Nianxiang (1), Liang Zhiwei. Head Coach: Paolo Malara.

China outshot Australia 30 to 21, but James Stanton-French made 17 saves en route to Australia’s 10-3 victory on Wednesday.

Australia built a 4-0 lead in the first period. Early in the second, Chen Jinghao drew a foul on Canada’s George Ford which gave Zhang Chufeng a 5-metre penalty shot to put China on the scoreboard with 7:30 left in the half. China scored twice more, but so did Australia (including a penalty shot goal by Richie Campbell with 3:22 remaining). At halftime, Australia led 6-3, aided by stellar Stanton-French who had 10 saves in the first half.

In the third period, Australia scored twice more in a game full of turnovers (10 for Australia, 11 for China at that point). In the fourth period, Billy Miller scored the first power play goal of the entire match (by any team) to extend Australia’s lead to 9-3. Johnno Cotterill also added a power play goal with 3:38 left to make it 10-3 and end the scoring.

Top-ranked Australia will play winless Argentina in the quarterfinals. And China will seek its first victory of the tournament against an undefeated Canada on Thursday.

AUS-CHN - Photo credit: Aimee Berg

Elvis Fatovic (AUS) – Head Coach of Australia

“I think we played really good defense today – that’s something we wanted from the beginning – but especially the extra-man defense against China. That gives me satisfaction. Or course we still have some things to improve in our attack – especially with the extra-man position. We must be much, much more mobile. We’ll try to do that in the next couple games.”

Paolo Malara (CHN) – Head Coach of China
“Australia is very good, but I am happy for my team. We had more shots, but not final goals. For China, this is our third official match of the season. If we had more official matches, I think it would be [a big plus].”


Quarters: 5-4, 5-1, 5-2, 4-1

Extra Man: USA: 6/13. ARG 2/6.
Pens: Nil.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: McQuin Baron, Janson Wigo (3), Alex Obert, Jackson Kimbell, Ben Hallock (1), Luca Cupido (4), Josh Samuels (3), Tony Azevedo (3), Alex Bowen (2), Bret Bonanni (3), Jesse Smith, John Mann, Drew Holland. Head Coach: Dejan Udovic.
ARGENTINA:  Hernan Mazzini, Ramiro Velch, Carlos Camnasio, Andres Monutti, Emanuel Lopez, Tomas Bulgheroni (1), Juan Pablo Montana (1), Esteban Corsi, Ivan Martin Carbantes (1), Andres Maroni (2), Franco Demarchi, German Yanez (3), Diego Malnero. Head Coach: Nahuel Alfonso.

Seven different Americans scored in the United States’ 19-8 victory over Argentina. The US also put both of its goalies to work while giving one of the team’s three Olympic veterans the night off.

In the first half, Argentina was outshot 21 to 14, and plagued by turnovers (11 to the United States’ 4). But the first period was a back-and-forth affair. The US kept inching ahead until Argentina’s Juan Pablo Montana rallied to tie it at four apiece on an even-handed goal. American Bret Bonanni answered with a power play goal with 34 seconds to go and the US led, 5-4, at the end of the first period.

In the second quarter, the US settled down and widened its lead to 9-4 on a pair of goals by Luca Cupido, and solo shots by Janson Wigo and Alex Bowen (on a power play). Argentina’s German Yanez lobbed one into the net with 2:09 to go – Argentina’s only goal of the second period – but American Tony Azevedo retaliated with his second goal of the night to give the US a five-goal lead at the half: 10-5.

In the third period, the US added five goals to extend its lead to 15-7. The splurge included Cupido’s third and fourth goal of the night, as well as one by high school junior Ben Hallock. In the fourth quarter, the US scored four more times (making it eight in a row) – including two goals by Janson Wigo, the half-brother of retired three-time US Olympian Wolf Wigo. Argentina got the last word, however, as Andres Maroni made the final goal in a 19-8 rout.

In Thursday’s semifinals, the US (second-ranked in Group A) will play Kazakhstan (third-ranked in Group B). And Argentina will seek its first victory of the tournament against Australia who hasn’t lost a game.

USA-ARG - Photo credit: Jared Gray

Tony Azevedo (USA) – Three goals

“We started being more aggressive offensively. We started attacking, 6-on-5 especially. John [Mann] was out today, taking the day off, so we really worked with our two young two-meter men: Ben Hallock and Alex Obert. I thought they did a good job. We earned a lot of ejections, but we kept our head. That was most important. Argentina was pretty aggressive.”