USA Women Wrap Up Water Polo Test Series Over Aussie Stingers

Steffens shot
US captain Maggie Steffens about to let fly in Brisbane tonight with Aussie keeper Lea Yanitsas all arms. Photo: Australian Water Polo (Harvpix).

A dominant five goal final quarter has seen the USA wrap up a hard fought women’s water polo Test Series against Australia with a 10-7 win  over the Stingers in Brisbane tonight.

The world and Olympic champions were too strong and too experienced in the closing quarter after the Stingers held a narrow 6-5 lead at quarter-time, the US bouncing back from their 9-10 loss to the Aussies on Thursday night.

D50_8225

STAYING AFLOAT: Maggie Steffens. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Australia (Harvpix)

Led by two of the most experienced players in the game in captain Maggie Steffens and centre forward Melissa Seidemann the US showed all the attributes that have seen them become the best team in the world.

The US girls scored a 10-9 win in the opening Test but the 2019 Fina World Championship bronze medallists, led by Rowie Webster have shown  they are again an emerging Olympic force and will be in the medal hunt come August in Tokyo – after breaking the USA’s 69-game winning streak on Thursday night.

Steffens aimed up early in the final term, converting a penalty to level the scores at 6-6, finding the left hand corner and soon after Makenzie Fisher, under no pressure from the Stingers defence, found the back of the net with a semi lob shot to put the US in front 7-6.

Alys Williams and Rachel Fattal then combined, setting up Williams for a cracking goal No 8, leaving Stephanie Haralabidis and a final penalty to Fattal to wrap the Series up for the World’s No 1 team.

Stingers triple Olympian Bronwen Knox then set up 201 game veteran Keesja Gofers to leave the final score at 10-7 in what was a high class game of international water polo – and a real possibility these two teams could play-off for the gold in Tokyo.

Webster, as she did in game two, opened the scoring with the first of her two goals in the opening quarter before another Haralabidis left hander found the back of the net for the US to level before Seidemann’s pure power signaled that the Olympic champions had come to play.

But so too had the Stingers and Knox and rookie Abby Andrews – showing no fear with her powerful bounce shot, cross cage zipping past goal Ashleigh Johnson’s left ear, giving the Stingers a 4-3 lead.

A Webster missile in a six-on-five and then a Fattal goal for the US kept the scoreboard ticking over before Matilda Kearns eared a penalty for the Aussie girls, with Keesja Gofers, in her 201st game, coverting for 6-4.

The US then struck back with Haralabidis netting a penalty for the US with 30 seconds left before three-quarter-time.

It heralded in a final quarter domination by a US team that lifted against some quality opposition.

Steffens was full of praise for the Stingers, saying they were undoubtedly one of the best teams in the world, saying “they are super strong, physical, fast and smart and we had to be at our best to beat them.

“It was a pleasure to play down in Australia with an even bigger crowd for game three…it’s a great aquatic atmosphere…with hospitable people sharing the same passion,” said Steffens.

Webster said the Stingers knew the US would lift.

“It was another tough, physical game and the winner would take the trophy and it turned out to be an excellent game with the US the better team on the night,” said Webster.

“It was a high class game of water polo with both teams reviewing their game plans, looking at a lot of footage before tonight’s game and we k new after our win in game two they would come out with all guns blazing.”

Asked after the game whether the win over the US and the improved standard of the Stingers would have other teams now looking at Australia as a real threat, Webster, as quick as one of her deft passes, said: “Privilege is power….”

USA 10 (S Haralabidis 3, R Fattal 2, M Steffens, P Hauschild, M Fisher, A Williams, M Seidemann goals) AUSTRALIA 7 (K Gofers 2, R Webster 2, A Andrews, A Ridge, Z Arancini).

Scores: First quarter: USA 2:1; Half-time: USA 3:2; Three-quarter time: Australia 6:5. Full-time: USA 10-7.

750_0073

LEFTY: Stephanie Haralabidis

750_0141

HANDS UP: Ashleigh Johnson

750_0160

HEAD BUTT: Lea Yanitsas.

750_0175

POWER BALL: Rachel Fattal.

D50_9367

CAPTAIN’S KNOCK: Maggie Steffens.

D50_9407

SHOT TIME: Zoe Arancini.

D50_9435

KNOX ON: Bronwen Knox

D50_9473

MY TURN: Hannah Buckling.

FULL WRAP AND MEN’S GAME TO FOLLOW