Team Canada huddles against AustraliaDarren Calabrese/COC
Darren Calabrese/COC

Team Canada looking to match best ever Olympic water polo result

Despite a quarterfinal loss to the United States, Team Canada’s women’s water polo team still has an opportunity to earn their best ever result at an Olympic Games.

Shae La Roche scored two goals while Axelle Crevier, Emma Wright and Hayley McKelvey added singles in Canada’s 16-5 loss to the Americans at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre on Day 11. The loss sends Canada into the classification round where they will play two more games to determine which teams finish in the 5-8 positions.

Canada is playing in its first Olympic women’s water polo tournament since Athens 2004, a trip that ended in a seventh-place finish. Canada’s best ever result was a fifth-place finish at the inaugural Olympic women’s water polo tournament at Sydney 2000. Two more wins in Tokyo would match that result.

Despite no longer being in medal contention, Team Canada plans on making the most of the position they are in.

“It’s definitely disappointing but now we’re going to strive for that fifth place and show the world that we’re still here to compete,” said co-captain Monika Eggens.

READ: Team Canada gets first women’s water polo win of Tokyo 2020

Kelly McKee guards against United States
Canada’s Kelly McKee, left, guards United States’ Paige Hauschild (5) during a quarterfinal round women’s water polo match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Canada, who finished fourth in their preliminary round group with a 1-3 record, struggled early against the Americans on Tuesday, allowing the first five goals and trailing 7-1 at the end of the first quarter. Canada scored twice in the second but allowed four more goals against the powerful United States offense to trail 11-3 at halftime.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get off to the best start,” Eggens said. “We hoped to be in it right from the get go. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way and we knew we were facing really tough competition. Next time, we know what we need to do.”

After a scoreless third quarter, the United States added five more goals in the fourth while Crevier and McKelvey responded for the Canadians, making it a 16-5 final.

The Americans are the two-time defending Olympic champions. They finished the preliminary round with a 3-1 record, suffering their first loss — a 10-9 defeat to Hungary — since Beijing 2008.

READ: Canadian water polo team ready to make waves at Tokyo 2020

Canada's Gurpreet Sohi shoots against the United States
Canada’s Gurpreet Sohi (6) shoots over the reach of United States’ Kaleigh Gilchrist, left, during a quarterfinal round women’s water polo match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

“We knew what we got ourselves into,” Eggens said about playing the United States. “Hopefully in three years we’ll be right there with them.”

In the preliminary round, the Canadian squad showed they can compete against some of the world’s best. The team trailed by only two goals entering the fourth quarter against Spain, the London 2012 silver medalists, before ultimately falling 14-10. Canada had a similar result against the Netherlands, who won gold at Beijing 2008, trailing by two entering the fourth but lost 16-12.

Canada will play their first of two classification games on Thursday. The result of that match will determine if they play in the fifth- or seventh-place game on Saturday.