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Olympic Bronze for Aussie Girls
The Australian women’s water polo team, the Aussie Stingers, have won Olympic bronze after enduring yet another nail-biting struggle to defeat Hungary 13-11 in extra time.
The game looked like being decided in normal time after retiring keeper Alicia McCormack found herself in possession with five seconds remaining, but an unfortunate mistake allowing Hungary’s Dora Antal to capitalise sent the game into extra time.
McCormack was challenged by two Hungarians and when the ball was turned over defender Antal flicked it into the goals with less than a second on the clock to force Australia’s third extra time game in a row.
Australia stood firm, however, with Gemma Beadsworth netting twice in extra minutes to seal the tense victory and send off retiring trio McCormack and step-sisters Kate Gynther and Mel Rippon in fine style.
For Gynther and Rippon it was a fitting end to the careers having both represented Australia since 2001, including Olympic appearances at Athens Beijing and now London.
“We’re over the moon. That’s the third game in a row in extra-time and to pull that out is amazing,” Gynther said.
“We had a never say die attitude,” Rippon added. “We were never going to lose no matter what happened.”
For coach Greg McFadden it was another stressful end to a campaign, having also led the Stingers to bronze in Beijing, but one he was happy to endure.
“We were the best team all game but the last quarter we did a few silly things and they got back in and then we thought we had it won and there was just a brain snap,” McFadden said.
“These things happen. But it was great, the girls showed the composure to come back in that second extra time and nail the game.
“We have spent four years together chasing the dream. We’ve had a really tough Olympics but we’ve played really well and we’ve showed lots of character and I’m extremely proud of the girls but I’m also so happy for the girls because they have worked so hard and they deserve the medal.
“And any medal is a good medal, it doesn’t matter what colour it is – today it is a bronze medal.”
After a tight opening term, the Stingers produced a barrage of goals in the second quarter to open up a 7-4 advantage at half time.
Rocket arm Ash Southern scored a double to increase her tournament tally to 13, while Beadsworth continued her domination as centre forward netting her second.
Hungary mounted a strong challenge in the second half scoring seven goals to four. Their eighth of the game, a five metre penalty to centre forward Barbara Bujka, drew them to within one, before Jane Moran eased the pressure off the back of a brilliant counter set up by Rippon.
Captain Gynther netted a lob that was deflected in by a Hungarian defender to start the fourth but as was the case throughout, Hungary struck back almost immediately with a patient extra man goal.
Neither team could trouble the scorer for the next four and a half minutes before Hungary drilled one off the cross bar that then ricocheted from the back of McCormack’s head to make a it a one goal game.
Southern then found the ire of the referee and was excluded with 44 seconds remaining prompting the Hungarian coach to call a timeout.
But they couldn’t convert the extra man opportunity and when McCormack made the save with 11 seconds to go it appeared the bronze was Australia’s – but her disposeesion, a shock for someone of her experience, caused more tense moments the Australian's.
Victoria Brown, Gemma Beadsworth, Sophie Smith, Holly Lincoln-Smith, Jane Moran, Bronwen Knox, Rowie Webster, Kate Gynther (c), Glencora Ralph, Ash Southern, Mel Rippon, Nicola Zagame, Alicia McCormack