Stingers End US Water Polo Streak in 10-9 Brisbane Heart-Stopper

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CROSS CAGE RIVALRY: The US girls are all arms as they put up stumps against Aussie shooter Pascalle Casey. Photo: Courtesy Water Polo Australia (Harvpix)

The Australian Stingers have ended the USA women’s water polo team’s amazing 69 game winning streak with a heart-stopping 10-9 victory over the World and Olympic champions in front of a vocal 3,000 strong crowd at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre tonight. The Americans hadn’t lost in more than a year, and the last time they did it was the Australians delivering the blow—an 9-8 victory in April, 2018.

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GAME BREAKER: Aussie skipper Rowie Webster sinks the US streak. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Australia (Harvpix)

Aussie skipper Rowie Webster broke a 9-9 deadlock for her world ranked number three team, with a five-metre penalty with just 25 seconds left on the clock.

It came after emerging youngster and Olympic hopeful Matilda Kearns used all her skill and strength above her 19 years to turn the US defence inside-out to earn the penalty.

Earlier the US had substituted goalie Gabby Stone with world’s number one keeper Ashleigh Johnson, and utilized her with a seven-on six attack in the dying stages.

With one final attack and in one final heart-stopping moment, a US shot hit the post and bounced off Johnson’s head, narrowly missing the goals.

A gripping game was over and the hearts of the Australian crowd were left squarely in their mouths.

The two teams will resume hostilities on Saturday night with what will be the first of two deciders after the US men struck back to beat the Aussie Sharks 10-9 in the second Test after Australia won the opening match 13-12.

As water polo commentator Mike Westorp quipped after the match: “I think we’re going to need a bigger venue….!”

[Mike Westdorp and Luis Antonio Crispin Guevara: Calling the 2019 Pan American Water Polo Tournament]

The Brisbane Aquatic Centre, purpose built for the 1982 Commonwealth Games, will be even further packed to the rafters for what is sure to be a cracking finale to a world class week of water polo as both nation’s prepare for Tokyo 2020.

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MADDIE & BRONTE SHOW: Maddie Musselman (No 2) and Bronte Halligan mix it up. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Australia (Harvpix)

The US women had wracked up win number 69 in the opening Test on Tuesday night and it was Webster who took immediate control of he second game, scoring an early goal for the home team and just missing two more.

But US skipper Maggie Steffens was quick to level the scores with a classic outside shot, before Kylie Neushul and then Steffens’ second gave the world’s No 1 team a 3-1 lead at quarter-time.

The Stingers scored their second with a powerful Amy Ridge shot finding the top right hand corner before Kearns (daughter of former Australian Rugby Union Wallaby great Phil Kearns) stamped her authority up front – leveling the score at 3-3.

The Fisher girls, Makenzie and Aria extended the US lead to 5-3 before Isobel Bishop pegged one back for the Aussies.

Then enter Bronte Halligan, another daughter of a footballing legend, New Zealand rugby league great Daryl Halligan, himself a goal-scoring wizard.

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PUSH AND SHOVE: Bronte Halligan and Aria Fisher stage their own duel in the pool. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Australia (Harvpix)

Bronte slammed home a screamer into the top left corner and after a Jamie Neushul goal for the US, and then Halligan levelled up at 6-6 from an acute angle before three-quarter time.

[Catching Up with UCLA Water Polo’s Bronte Halligan]

(Both Kearns at USC and Halligan at UCLA are both in the US Collegiate system, taking the year off to concentrate on making the 2020 Australian Olympic Team).

Amy Ridge

HI FIVE: From Aussie Stinger Amy Ridge as Makenzie Fisher pushes forward. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Australia (Harvpix)

Ridge added goal number two, the US came back with back-to-back goals to level at 8-8 before triple Olympian Bronwen Knox finished off a team goal to put the Stingers back in the lead 9-8.

The Champions were not done and leveled again at 9-9 with 90 seconds left in the game before Webster, as cool as a cucumber, made no mistake from five metres with a history-ending goal with less than 30 seconds on the clock, setting the scene for a gripping finish.

Saturday can’t come quick enough!

AUSTRALIA 10 (R Webster 2, B Halligan 2, A Ridge 2, M Kearns, B Knox, I Bishop, P Casey goals) defeated

USA 9 (M Steffens 3, K Gilchrist 2, J Raney, A Johnson, A Fisher, A Williams)

Quarter-time: USA 3:1; Half-time: 3:3; Three-quarter time: 6-6

US men fightback to sink Sharks and set up their own Test Series decider

 

Earlier in the night the US men forced their own decider on Saturday night after the Americans held on to beat the Aussie Sharks 10-9 in a hard fought clash.

USA Johnathan Hooper

HOOP-LA: The fastest swimmer in the pool Johnathan Hooper muscles in on the Sharks defence. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Australia (Harvpix).

The Sharks fought their way back to 8-all after trailing by up to four goals but playing catch up finally took it’s toll with the Aussies leaving a clear passage in the middle of their defence, gifting Benjamin Hallock a crucial goal in the final quarter.

The Americans sealed the win with a Benjamin Stevenson goal and despite one final fling from big Joe Kayes off an Aaron Young pass, the visitors had sealed a deserved victory.

Hallock, the fastest swimmer in the pool Johnathan Hooper, goal sneak Luca Cupido and Alexander Bowen stood out for the US who raced to a 4-0 lead early into the second quarter and as was the case in the opening Test on Tuesday.

Australia had to fight hard to put themselves back in the match.

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POINT BLAKE RANGE: Aussie shooter Blake Edwards fires off a shot. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Austraia (Harvpix)

And that’s just what they did with experienced Olympian Richie Campbell finding his mojo, passing to Jarrod Gillchrist who slammed home the Sharks opener before captain Aaron Younger cleverly held the ball before finding Joe Kayes for Australia’s second.

After a Bowen five-metre for the US, it was Campbell himself who scored with an eye-catching push, bounce shot to make it 5-3.

Joel Dennerly

KEEPER OF THE CAGE: Aussie goalie Joel Dennerley stretched to the limit in an eye-catching game. Photo Courtesy: Water Polo Australia (Harvpix).

Cupido scored his second before AJ Roach (also the son of a famous Balmain and Australian rugby league footballer in Steve Roach) with his clever baulking making it impossible for US keeper Alexander Wolf to read and the dual Olympian fired off a powerful bounce shot – one of the best of the match, giving the Aussies a 4-3 quarter but coupled with some strong arm defence and another five goals, the US survived to play another day.

USA 10 (J Hooper 2, L Cupida 2, A Bowen 2, M Farmer, B Hallock, C Ramirez, B Stevenson goals) defeated

AUSTRALIA 9 (R Campbell 2, J Kayes 2, L Edwards, AJ Roach, J Gilchrist, L Hollis, B Edwards goals)

Quarter-time: USA: 3-0; Half-time: USA 6:4; Three-quarter time: 8-8.