Canada Crushes U.S. Girls; Moves on to Sunday’s UANA Final Against Brazil

U.S goalie Emily Blackwell experienced this far too often yesterday in 19-9 loss to Canada. Photo Courtesy: Peter Laurence / USA Water Polo

By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

CLEARWATER, FL. In a contest competitive only for the first eight minutes, yesterday the Canadian Junior Girls team used a 10-1 run over the second and third quarters to blitz the host Americans on their way to a 19-9 win in the semifinals of the 2018 UANA Junior Pan American Water Polo Championship.


Led by a natural hat-trick from Floranne Carroll, the Canucks turned a 2-1 deficit after one period into an 11-2 lead midway through the third period. A modest rally by the Yanks made it 13-4 heading into the fourth period but Canada—perhaps inspired by events outside the realm of athletics—poured in six more goals in the final stanza, including a score by Myriam Lizotte with four seconds left in the game as an exclamation point in a dominant win.

Canada (4-0) will now Brazil (3-1), a 17-5 winner Saturday over Argentina at 2:50 p.m. today for the gold medal. Team USA—which won its afternoon game against Argentina by 24-5—will be in unfamiliar territory, playing Puerto Rico (1-4) for third place at 1:30 p.m.; the U.S. is much more accustomed playing for gold rather than bronze.

U.S. Head Coach Kristin Rodriguez spoke about the challenge of maintaining the standard of success set by the U.S. senior women’s squad—which has won back-to-back Olympic golds (2012, 2016) and also currently holds every major international title—while also providing talented youngsters with opportunities to develop.

“We are building on a legacy where we have expectations,” Rodriguez said after the match. “Bringing our top 19 and under team would include Aria Fischer, who has a gold medal, Paige Hauschild (68 goals as a freshman last year at USC) and a bunch of girls who have travelled extensively [internationally].

“For this tournament, we’re young, and winning would be ideal. But the experience our girls are gaining from it… you don’t gain as much from a win as a loss.”

To underscore this point, the American squad includes Emily Ausmus, a precocious 12-year-old from Southern California with tremendous potential; Canadian goalie Marianne Bouchard-Cote, who will turn 18 next month, is the youngest player on the Canadian roster.


Photo Courtesy: Peter Laurence / USA Water Polo

Carroll led Canada with five goals while Myriam Lizotte and Jaden Miller had three goals apiece. For Team USA Isabell Gazzaniga and Jenna Flynn each netted two goals as there was much to celebrate for the Canadians in the stands overlooking the Long Center’s water polo course. Early on the U.S. squad—the youngest in the tournament with an average age of less than 16—appeared strong enough to withstand Canada, whose average age was almost 19, the tournament’s upper age limit. Christina Hicks countered an early goal by Carroll by connecting with the Americans enjoying an extra attacker. When Annaliese Miller threaded a shot past Bouchard-Cote with a minute remaining in the opening period, the U.S. enjoyed its only lead of the match.

That lead did not last long; 20 seconds into the second period, Carroll tied the game at 2-all with a lob shot over U.S. goalie Emily Blackwell, then gave her team the lead for good two minutes later when the American defense did not get back in time. Two goals by Canada’s Emma Fraser sandwiched around a Jaiden Miller score made it 6-2 before Malia Allen of the U.S. scored with time running out in the half.

Then the deluge hit, again. To the cascading cheers of the the team’s die-hard fans, Head Coach David Paradelo’s squad broke open the game with a 5-0 run after intermission, turning a three-goal deficit into eight, as the Yanks simply could not get untracked. Goals by Adrien Van Dyke, Daphne Guevremont, Apryl Gonzales, Lizotte and Valeria Rojas simply overwhelmed U.S. Head Coach Kristin Rodriguez’s squad.

Cassidy Miller countered for the Americans to make it 11-4, but scores by Ava Morrant and Gonzalez closed out the period and put the game away for Canada.

For the most part the Canadian parents didn’t care about who’s older than whom; they were delighted to see their girls win so decisively. Michelle King, Emma Fraser’s mother, was pleased by the outcome, though she expressed surprised at the final score.


Not an international friendly when Canada and USA meet. Photo Courtesy: M. Randazzo

“I thought it was going to be a much tighter game,” said King whose daughter is entering her second year at Santa Barbara City College. “The older age and experience of the Canadian girls really showed up in this game.”

Myriam Lizotte’s father Daniel, who has watched his daughter progress the past two years playing for the Canadian Water Polo Association, said the long trek—Clearwater is 1,500 miles from Montreal—was worth it.

“The win was an even greater experience for us parents because we drove,” he said.

And, in a twist befitting of two nations whose ties are stronger than any differences, perceived or real, Lizotte added that next year his daughter will be playing for Chris Vidale at Marist College in upstate New York.

“That will be another great experience for her,” he said. And for him as well, thought now he’ll cheer on his daughter competing to with Americans, not against them.

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