Top-of-the-pool Spain has defeated Australia in the Group A women’s water polo preliminaries at Tokyo 2020. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
Having won their first two matches, the Aussie Stingers headed into this one full of confidence – but Spain had one more match under its belt and had been victorious in all three.
Spain starts fast but Aussies score first
The race for first possession was won by Spain, but Australia was the first to score with an extra player goal through Bronte Halligan.
Spain immediately reacted with attacking pressure and scored two goals in a row.
With less than three minutes left of the first quarter, Stinger Bronwen Knox bounced a shot over the Spanish keeper’s head to equalise.
A goal to Spain made it seem like they would lead at quarter time, but a ripping Hannah Buckling right-arm throw shot the ball in to score with 30 seconds left.
At quarter time, scores were tied at 3-all.
Tight contest continues in second quarter
The goal-for-goal encounter continued in the second quarter.
Spain started with a bang, getting on the board early before the Stingers made the most of the extra man play and scored through Abby Andrews.
Then, for the first time all match, Spain drew out to a two-goal lead.
Stingers captain Rowie Webster halted the run of goals before it could get out-of-hand by scoring a goal herself, and two excellent saves by Lea Yanitsas boosted her team’s confidence.
Webster scored again with a lob to bring scores to 6-all, then Spain scored to take a one-goal lead at halftime.
Spaniards start second half with a bang
As soon as the third quarter began, Keesja Gofers was quick to the middle to win the swim-up, but no score came as a result.
Spain kicked up a gear and showed they meant business, scoring twice in a row.
Zoey Arancini was having none of that and got in on the action to capitalise on the extra man play and score her first goal of the match.
A lob from Spain took the score to 9-7, then goaled again to hold the largest lead of the match.
Momentum built for the Spaniards and they pushed the lead to four goals by three-quarter time, 11-7.
Stingers suffer first loss after being stung by Spain
With a big task ahead for the last quarter, the Stingers upped their defence, but patient and persistent efforts by Spain saw them score.
Quick reflexes from Matilda Kearns ended the Spanish scoring streak, pushing through two goals to bring the score to 12-9.
The top of the net was Spain’s next target and they hit truly; despite Yanitsas’ great defence, Spain was able to score twice more before the last whistle was blown, handing Australia its first loss of Tokyo 2020.
The final score was Spain 15 to Australia 9.
Spain 15 (B Ortiz 5, J Forca Ariza 3, M Garcia Godoy 3, P Leiton Arrones 2, A Espar Llaquet 1, P Pena 1)
Australia 9 (M Kearns 2, R Webster 2, Z Arancini 1, A Andrews 1, H Buckling 1, B Knox 1, B Halligan 1)
The Stingers’ next game is the final match of the preliminary rounds against South Africa, to be held at 8.50 pm AEST on Sunday, August 1.