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Waterpolo - 05. May 2012.

Brits shine in final VISA International group match

The British Gas GBR Women's Water Polo team underlined their Olympic
potential as they pushed USA all the way in their final group game of
the VISA International.

After slipping to an early 4-0 deficit, the Brits fought their way back
into the match, pulling within one goal for much of the second half
before an agonising 7-6 defeat.

The Americans, who have medalled at every Olympics since the women's
game was included in 2000,  are one of the favourites for gold at London
2012 and had won both their group games at the VISA test event with
Australia and Hungary.

But with a partisan crowd behind them, the Brits matched their
experienced opponents in every part of the pool.
And while the final equaliser ultimately evaded them, British head coach
Szilveszter Fekete agreed it was his team's finest performance of the
competition.

"I think today was a really good game for us," said Fekete. "We showed
good concentration, good fight, good discipline. We stayed organised
throughout in defence.

"We started a little bit nervously, perhaps that was down to emotions in
our first game against the USA.
"But after that I think we were equals with the World Cup champions and
one of the big favourites for the Olympics so I'm very happy."

The Americans started positively, scoring two early power plays and
adding another two goals as the British attack struggled to find a way
past USA goalkeeper Betsey Armstrong.

But momentum swung after British keeper Rosie Morris saved a 5m penalty
and Lisa Gibson latched on to Frankie Snell's pass in the final seconds
to pull a goal back.

The second quarter began with a Snell goal on the man-up before Ciara
Gibson-Byrne scored her first of the tournament to reduce the deficit to
one just minutes later.

The Americans responded with a goal of their own before Gibson-Byrne
struck again, finding space on the right wing and firing home with 35
seconds left in the second quarter.

With the score at 5-4 to USA at half-time, the British crowd could sense
an upset and American keeper Armstrong proved her worth with smart saves
to deny GB forwards Angie Winstanley-Smith and Fran Leighton.

The Americans added one goal in the third quarter but at just 6-4 down
with one quarter to go, the match was hanging in the balance.

Snell scored her second goal half-way through the quarter but USA
responded with one more of their own to pull two ahead again.

Snell completed her hat-trick as the fourth quarter came to a close and
while the Brits couldn't quite squeeze over the line, the centre back
insisted the performance was a huge confidence boost for the team.

"That was so amazing," said Snell. "The crowd were really unbelievable.
Playing in front of that many people really lifts you up.

"It was such a good fight from all the girls in the team.

"To come back from four goals down and how we clawed our way back into
it was brilliant and although we did lose it was such a good result for
us."

The Brits will face Hungary in the bronze medal match on Sunday after
the Hungarians lost their final group match 17-12 to Australia.

The British Gas GBR Water Polo team were:

Robyn Nicholls (GK) -                          (City of Manchester)

Rosie Morris (GK) -                            (City of Liverpool)

Chloe Wilcox                                        (City of Manchester)

Fiona McCann                                        (City of Chester)

Francesca Painter-Snell 3 goals        (London Penguin)

Hazel Musgrove -                                (Warrington)

Fran Leighton-                                      (City of Sheffield)

Lisa Gibson -  1 goal                          (City of Manchester)

Aine Hoy -                                          (City of Manchester)

Vicki Hawkins -                                    (Warley Wasps)

Angie Winstanley-Smith -                  (City of Manchester)

Ciara Gibson-Byrne - 2 goals            (City of Manchester)

Rachel Drabble -                                (City of Liverpool)



GOAL STATISTICS:

Q1 GBR 1- 4 USA

Q2 GBR 4-5 USA

Q3 GBR 4 -6 USA

Q4 GBR 6-7USA
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