Australian women’s water polo team has won the bronze medal after scoring a nail-biting
12-11 extra time victory over Hungary – their third overtime game in a row.
athletes Gemma Beadsworth and Glencora Ralph played pivotal roles in the
Stingers’ success, with the former netting twice in extra-time to guide the
Aussie Stingers had lost to the USA by two goals in extra time in their
semi-final two days ago and only two days earlier had come from behind to beat
China 20-18 in a penalty shootout in the quarter-finals.
today’s gold medal winning men’s K4 team of Tate Smith, David Smith, Murray
Stewart and Jacob Clear in the stands, the Australians dominated for most of the
game – leading by four just after halftime and three during the last quarter -
but they couldn’t shake the Hungarians who were on average three years younger
than their opponents.
same two teams played for bronze in Beijing four years ago with Australia
winning in a penalty shootout – fortunately this time, while there was no less
drama, it didn’t get that far.
head coach Greg McFadden thought his side was by far the superior team – except
for a few crucial seconds late in the game, including when goalkeeper Alicia
McCormack was dispossessed with one second remaining in normal time for the
Hungarians to score a miracle goal.
"We were the best team all game but the last
quarter we did a few silly things and they got back in and then we thought we
had it won and there was just a brain snap,” McFadden said.
things happen. But it was great, the girls showed the composure to come back in
that second extra time and nail the game.
have spent four years together chasing the dream. We’ve had a really tough
Olympics but we’ve played really well and we’ve showed lots of character and
I’m extremely proud of the girls but I’m also so happy for the girls because
they have worked so hard and they deserve the medal.
any medal is a good medal, it doesn’t matter what colour it is – today it is a
centre back Sophie Smith said while the team came wanting gold they were so
happy to win a medal after all the hard work during the last four years and in
particular over the past two weeks.
just relief – we like to do things the hard way,” an overjoyed Smith laughed.
"We played a good team game. It has been four years of blood sweat and tears
and finally we get what we want – a medal.”
play in the first few minutes of the match was all Hungary but neither team
could score until Nicola Zagame took things into her own hands to get Australia
on the board with a rocket from nine metres out. Within 30 seconds Hungary had
bounced straight back and a further half minute later Gemma Beadsworth scored
in extra man to put Australia up 2-1, the score at quarter time.
Southern extended the lead 30 seconds into the second term after a shot by
Rowie Webster bounced back from the Hungarian goalkeeper into her hands. It
took Hungary just 20 seconds to score at the other end after Webster was
excluded but the next goal came as Southern converted a penalty earnt by Mel
Rippon and her step-sister Kate Gynther and it was 4-2 to Australia.
Lincoln-Smith scored from the posts in extra man, only to see Hungary score via
centre forward Barbara Bujka, before a well worked extra man play between
Gynther, Rippon and Beadsworth saw Beadsworth score. Then Webster got her first
of the game before Hungary got one back to make it 7-4 at halftime.
got her second less than two minutes into the third period and Australia had a
four goal buffer. But the big lead was fleeting as Hungary converted a penalty
ten seconds later and a counter attack strike exactly a minute after that. And
when they put away an extra man chance 70 seconds later it was suddenly a one
scored with a brilliant individual backhand from centre forward to make it 9-7
but Hungary once again got straight back into it with a penalty. Neither side
could score for the next few minutes but with eight seconds to go in the period
the Australians earned an exclusion on a fast break and Jane Moran scored the
quick extra man goal to make it 10-8 with a quarter to play.
scored with a lob that was deflected in by a Hungarian defender to start the
fourth but as was the case throughout, Hungary struck back almost immediately
with a patient extra man goal.
team could trouble the scorer for the next four and a half minutes before
Hungary drilled one off the cross bar that then ricocheted from the back of
Aussie goalkeeper Alicia McCormack’s head to make a it a one goal game.
Southern then found the ire of the referee and was excluded with 44 seconds
remaining prompting the Hungarian coach to call a timeout. But they couldn’t
convert the extra man opportunity and when McCormack made the save with 11
seconds to go it appeared the bronze was Australia’s.
drama has followed the Aussie Stingers at every turn in the finals series at
this tournament and when McCormack was challenged by two Hungarians the ball
was turned over and defender Dora Antal flicked it into the goals with less
than a second on the clock to force Australia’s third extra time game in a row.
scored the first goal of extra time – her third of the game – at 1:19 and with
three minutes to play the Stingers led 12-11. Then in a second overtime period
that was laced with timeouts and brutal defence the Australians finally
cemented the bronze with Beadsworth’s fourth goal of the game.
match was the last at this level for a number of the Australian players
including Gynther, Rippon and McCormack who have played in three, three and two
Olympic Games respectively.
Australian men’s team will play their fifth-eighth place bracket game against
three-time defending Olympic champions Hungary today at 4.30pm Perth time.