Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia 10
Two goals by Constantine Kudaba (Port Coquitlam, BC) in the final minute lifted Canada to a thrilling 11-10 victory over the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.
The win locked up fifth place for Canada at the Men’s Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament in Edmonton. After a heartbreaking loss to Greece in the quarter-final – which meant that Canada would not be competing at the London Olympics this summer – the team bounced back with two consecutive wins over Turkey and the FYR of Macedonia.
After the match, Kudaba expressed relief at being able to notch the last-minute pair of goals to secure the win. ““It’s been a long tournament and I’ve missed a lot of shots, so it was nice to get two at the end.”
Goalkeeper, Dusan Aleksic, preserved the win with a great save on a last-second shot. “It feels awesome. I don’t get the chance to play these matches very often since I’m the back-up goalie. It was really exciting for me.”
Three Canadians each contributed a pair of goals: Justin Boyd (Beaconsfield, QC), Luka Gasic (Laval, QC) and Jared McElroy (Calgary, AB). Other goal scorers included Oliver Vikalo (Calgary, AB), John Conway (Ottawa, ON), and Devon Diggle (Montreal, QC).
The victory was particularly satisfying since Canada played without two of its key leaders. Kevin Graham (Regina, SK) left the tournament Saturday to rejoin his professional club in Hungary, while Captain Aaron Feltham, didn’t play due to injury.
Sunday’s other matches are summarized below.
7th – 8th Place Game
These two teams played to an 11-11 draw in the round robin, but it was Turkey that seemed to bring more energy to the pool. The Turks steadily built a 7-3 lead before Brazil recovered to score three of the next four goals. It was 11-8 by the end of the third quarter, but Brazil would not be able to close the gap in the final stanza. Final score was Turkey 16, Brazil 12. Turkey takes 7th place at the Olympic Qualification Tournament.
Bronze Medal Game
Greece played a high-pressure game, as it has throughout the tournament, to earn the bronze medal at the Olympic Qualifier. Romania proved itself equal to the task and stuck close, coming back from 2-0 to bring the game closer at 4-3 and later at 11-9 by the start of the fourth period. Once again, the Romanian attack was led by Captain, Cosmin Radu, who added another five goals to his tournament tally. It was a total team effort by the Greeks who will definitely be a team to watch in London this summer.
Gold Medal Game
There was never really any doubt that Montenegro would win the Olympic Qualification tournament. They are also seen as an early favourite to medal this summer in London. The Montenegrans were calm, incisive and explosive in beating Spain in Sunday's final, 12-9. To their credit, the Spanish battled to within a goal at several points in the match but three consecutive goals for Montenegro built a four-goal cushion at 10-6 and the match was essentially over.