ANNAPOLIS -- The United States' bid for its first world water polo championship since 1904 was ended, but not easily, by the aggressive defensive tactics of Quebec yesterday at the Naval Academy.
Quebec took the United States out of its game while building three leads of three goals each. Quebec survived the last and strongest American rally to win, 9-8, for the championship of the first Women's Junior World Water Polo Invitational.
Quebec, which has not lost to the U.S. junior team in four meetings (3-0-1), captured the tournament with a 5-0 record. It dealt the United States (3-2) its only other loss in the championships, 7-4 on Thursday, and has kept the Americans without a world title since the senior men's team won 87 years ago.
New Zealand took third place by beating Brazil, 9-3, as Leah Wistrand scored three goals in yesterday's preliminary game.
Quebec scored the winning goal on Ann Dow's four-meter (penalty) shot with 2 minutes, 9 seconds to play. The penalty is called for an intentional foul, usually from behind, that prevents a goal.
Dow's shot to the right of goalie Tricia McGuire (of Landover) opened a 9-6 lead. The Americans then made it close, as Robyn Van Winkle scored two of her game-high four goals, the last on a power play with 41 seconds left. But Quebec was able to run out the clock.
"They came out and pressed us harder than they have before. We weren't ready for that," said U.S. coach Brent Bohlander. His team jumped ahead on Van Winkle's goal after 21 seconds, but was outplayed the rest of the first half.
"It was hard to work our offense against them. We were in a position of either scoring on a quick shot or trying to break their defense, and that wasn't being done. So, we had to make some adjustments," Bohlander said.
Before the United States did, Quebec had run up leads of 4-1 and, at halftime, 6-3.
"We are equal teams, but maybe we want to win it more," said three-goal scorer Johanne Begin, through an interpreter, her aunt, Lyse Grasso. "We have played tournaments in the U.S. before, but always against senior teams and always we were losing.
"This time, we played on our own level and really wanted to win," she said. "We played the same type of defense, but more aggressive, because we wanted to win at all costs."
Said Van Winkle: "It was pretty physical, and it kind of shocked us a little bit at first. But we adjusted."
In the third period, Van Winkle rebounded Heather Moody's shot off the post to score, and Julie Swail scored from far out on a power play goal that sliced Quebec's edge to 6-5.
The United States, which was outshot by 15-7 in the first half but only 20-18 for the game, was within 7-6 on Rachelle Gue's power-play goal with 5:15 left. Quebec's Isabelle Audet made a great move to elude Kristy Dickey in the middle and beat McGuire from close range. Dow's penalty shot came 41 seconds later.
"I don't know if we expected to win this [the tournament], but we wanted to prove we belong," said Bohlander, whose team got single goals from Carrie Basye (Annapolis High), Patty Macias, Swail and Gue.