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Canada wins its opening game at the Olympic Qualification Tournament

(Rotterdam, Netherlands – February 14, 2021) – A great team effort led Canada’s Men National Team to an 11-7 victory over Brazil on Sunday in its first game at the Olympic Qualification Tournament in Rotterdam.

The Canadians had a strong start, taking a three-goal lead with a brace from Sean Spooner and another from Nicolas Constantin-Bicari. The Brazilians replied with three straight goals, but Jeremie Cote had Canada back on top 4-3, scoring with less than two seconds to go in the opening quarter.

Brazil tied the game at four in the opening moments of the second period. However, Aleksa Gardijan replied right away, striking on a gem of a shot with a man up. The 5-4 lead held for Canada at halftime, thanks to tight defensive play and a few key saves by goalkeeper Milan Radenovic.

Just as it did in the opening quarter of the game, Canada launched the second half with a pair of quick goals. Constantin-Bicari nailed his second of the game on a rebound off goalkeeper Slobodan Soro, then Jeremie Cote also added his second goal after beating the Brazilian defence to put Canada up 7-4. Brazil struck back with a pair of goals to reduce Canada’s lead to one, but once again, the Canucks found the back of the net in the final minute to close the third quarter with an 8-6 lead.

The Canadians never looked back in the final period. Gaelan Patterson scored his first of the tournament to make it 9-6 with a little more than six minutes to go. George Torakis added to his team’s lead by beating the Brazilian goalkeeper with a great shot from the outside. Rafael Real cut the lead to 10-7, but the Canadians controlled the ball for the rest of the game, shutting down any hope of a Brazilian comeback. Gardijan picked up his second goal of the day with two minutes to go to conclude the Canadian scoring. Author of Canada’s eighth and tenth goals, veteran George Torakis left the pool with the man of the match honours.

“We played well as a team today. We had five players scoring two goals and six different scorers in the game. Our defence limited their chances, and we were able to stay focused throughout the game. We face Montenegro tomorrow, and it will be a tough match. We tied them at Worlds in 2017, so anything is possible, ”said Aleksa Gardijan after the match.

Canada returns to action on Monday, February 15 against Montenegro at 5:30 p.m. (local) / 11:30 a.m. (ET). The game will stream on CBCSports.ca and on the CBC Sports app. - https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1859190339537 

Elsewhere in Group A, Greece defeated Georgia 11-10 on Sunday. As per FINA’s report, “a handful of Turkish players produced positive tests at the compulsory checks upon their arrival and the FINA Management Committee decided to apply the Covid-19 protocol’s related measures, which requires the team’s withdrawal from the competition in this case.”

CAN 11-7 BRA (4-3, 1-1, 3-2, 3-1)

Radenovic, Patterson (1), Djerkovic, Constantin-Bicari (2), Mark Spooner, George Torakis (2), Jérémie Côté (2), Sean Spooner (2), Aleksa Gardijan (2), Aria Soleimanipak, Max Schapowal, Reuel D’Souza, Samuel Reiher

For the most recent news on Canada’s national team’s, visit Water Polo Canada’s website and follow our social media accounts (@waterpolocanada) .



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