The Canadian Men’s Water Polo team fell to Germany, 9-5, yesterday at the 2009 World Aquatic Championships in a rematch of the thrilling group stage match that helped vault Canada into the top 8 of the world.
From the opening swim off it was clear that the veteran German squad was determined to avenge their defeat against Canada from a week ago. Germany struck twice early in the first quarter for a 2-0 lead. Then, taking a page from the Canadian playbook, the German defence pressed Canada tightly during the opening quarter, managing to keep the young squad off the scoreboard through the first 8 minutes. Devon Diggle (DDO Water Polo Club, Pierrefonds, PQ) continued his impressive goal scoring run at his first World Championships, beating a blocker to put Canada on the board. Neither team found much success on the offensive end until Germany squeaked in a power play goal with 2 seconds to play in the quarter, bringing them a 3-1 lead at half.
The 3rd quarter saw the offensive tempo of the game ratcheted up, with the Germans battling to a 6-2 lead, Justin Boyd (DDO Water Polo Club, Beaconsfield, PQ) the only Canadian able to convert on the numerous Canadian chances. In the Final Quarter, the young Canadian team showed their courage, goals from Kevin Graham (Regina Squids, Regina, Sask.) Diggle and Boyd drawing them to within 2, 7-5, with just over 5 minutes to play in the game. With time running out, the Canadian team was forced to take extra risks in trying to even the score, unfortunately to no avail. The experienced Germans took advantage of the wide open game to fire home two more goals late in the game, sealing the victory 9-5.
Even in defeat, the Canadian Men’s team showed today that they clearly are rising force on the international stage that all of the established nations in men’s Water Polo need to be wary of. Gone are the days when a match against Canada was a sure win for the regular top teams in international Water Polo. On Saturday Canada clashes with Romania in the 7th-8th placing game. With the history between these two teams, Canada having beaten Romania in Romania last spring for the 4th and final qualifying spot for the 2008 Olympic games, this match should provide a great start to what will be an exciting day of do or die international competition.