GWANGJU, South Korea – A group effort propelled Canada past Serbia in Thursday’s (July 2) opening game of women’s water polo action in Gwangju. After grabbing hold of the lead in the second quarter, the Canadians recorded a 16-8 victory at the World University Games.
McMaster alumna Nicola Colterjohn backstopped the Canadians to victory, tightening up her game in the second half as Team Canada improved defensively in front of her. Serbia led 5-4 after the opening quarter.
Driver Kyra Christmas (Pacific University) scored four goals including one following an offensive rebound midway through the second quarter as the Canucks turned the game around with key defensive stops and six goals in the frame.
“As the game went on we started playing more as a unit,” said Christmas, who hails from High River, Alta. “Our blocks came together – it really is a team sport and it helps to be playing as a unit and moving as one.”
The pace slowed down to open the second half, and the keepers at both ends looked steady. Colterjohn underpinned the strong defensive effort in the third quarter to help hold Serbia scoreless, and Canada had increased its lead to 12-6 heading into the fourth.
“The defence was great in front of me in the second and especially the third. We were getting picked apart at the beginning by one or two key players,” explained Colterjohn, of Hamilton, Ont. “Once we found them and targeted them, we were much more organized.”
Of note, Canada won all four sprints and kicked off the fourth quarter with a quick goal from Christmas. The team also took care of business on the power play, scoring five goals on the advantage. Canada added two goals on three penalty shots while not giving up a penalty shot against.
The team will be back in action on Friday (July 3) against the defending gold medalists from Russia. Pool play continues until July 7.