Sunday, 23 August 2015

Heart Break and the Road Ahead

The second week of the World Championships was a mix bag. We were lucky to scrape through the quarter finals against China. China are a team we have played numerous of times over the years and have also met them in the Beijing and London Olympic Quarter Finals. On all occasions we have come away with the win, seeing both London and the World Champs quarters end in penalty shootouts.

Penalty shootouts are very emotionally charged. Unfortunately it comes down to individual brilliance or an individual’s mistake. It’s just you and the opposition out in the middle of the pool. It can either be eerily quite or deafeningly loud. When a team games gets whittled down to a loss or win on a single individual it can seem outrageously unfair. A player may have had the best game of there life and an inch too wide, too narrow, too high or too low can see that player lose the game for the team.  

After surviving the quarter we were set to meet the USA in the semi. While a tough game, poor attacking options left us lacking in the second half. After facing a disappointing result, our job was not over. The bronze medal match vs Italy was still looming. Our final match started off quite well, although we missed some early opportunities. After trading goals with the Italians for the entire game, the final hooter sounded and the scores we even. Another penalty shootout… This time we were not so lucky and unfortunately did not come up with the win. This saw us come away from the Championships with forth, far from what we were hoping for ourselves.

So it’s back to the drawing board to both review and develop our team so we can head into the 2016 Rio Olympics in the best possible form we can be, ready to fight for the elusive gold medal.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Good, The Bad and The Brave

It's been a tough week here in Kazan, Russia. The 16th Fina World Championships have got under way and the Aussie Stingers are primed and ready to go. 

The first week saw us off to a less than perfect start with a close win against Greece (8-7).  This was the first game our team finally played together, due to a rocky preparation plagued by injuries and sickness. After a good first quarter, we made some critical errors that kept the game close. In the end we were able to hold on and get away with the win.

Our second game vs South Africa (19-1) was a much better game by fair. Although the opposition is admittedly not as strong. Our combinations and communication seemed like it was finally on the same page and working in time.

Our third and final round game was our most important as it was the decider between who would be placed first and who would be second in our pool. Which heading into the second week and knockout rounds of the World Championships can be very important. Plus the added bonus of a direct route to the quarter finals if you're placed first.

On a more personal note this game was set to be my 300th international game for the Aussie Stingers. Phew! Time seems to have flown, I still remember my very first international game.... 10 years ago I played my first game during a test series vs New Zealand in Canberra to decide the last 3 positions to complete the senior team set to compete at World League and ultimately the World Championships in Montreal in 2005. And as they say the rest is history.

Our Netherlands game (8-6) was always going to be tough. We were able to keep the usually high scoring Dutch team to 6 goals, all of which were from extra man. A great effort from the girls.

With our round games done and dusted we get a guaranteed quarter final birth and have 3 days before our next game. As we prepare for our next game we have a  few hard training sessions and start to knuckle down on our game plan.

The second week of world champs can bring about anything. Teams can crumble and teams can rise. Luck will favour the brave. 

Full Game Reports on both Aussie Stingers and Sharks Plus much much more can be found at Water Polo Australia