Volume 1 Number 3         April 1, 2009

Subject: Kind of sweet to lose and still advance

After waiting for over a month to play the second game of the quarterfinal of champions cup the day arrived. We had a loosen out in the morning and game time was 5pm. Our pre game meeting was really surreal. It started with our coach reminding us that every second that passes the other team will feel more desperate. The reason the meeting started out this way was because we won the first game of two by 4 in florence. Which means that Fiorentina needs to come to our pool and beat us by 5 to advance. If you follow european football (soccer) then you are familiar with the format of the european champions cup which our tournament follows. I have never been in a situation where I could loss by 3 and still advance to the next round.

The game started with the florence team drawing first blood. We then immediately earned a 5 m and I was asked to take the 5 m. I missed the 5 m and unfortunately that set a bad tone for us in the first half.

In the third quarter we were revitalized and went up by two but that would be our downfall as well. We become too comfortable thinking that there was no way they would beat us by 5 that late in the game. We kept the game close, we were down by 1 going into the 4th quarter we kept them there till the end and they scored two quick goals in the last minute. The sensation in the water was so weird, at one point we had a 6on5 that we didnt really attack because we wanted to let time pass. I would have attacked it normally and taken a good high percentage shot before coming even. But the approach sometimes is different from I would say the american way to play water polo and the european way to play water polo.

The game finished 9-6 for Fiorentina. However, it is weird to think they were disappointed with a three goal victory because it wasnt enough for them to continue to the Final Four.
The final four team standings are Geymonat Orizzonte (It), Honved Budapest (hun), Kinef Kirishi(Rus) and Vouliagmeni (gre).

The final four will be held in Kirishi, Russia April 3-5. Im not too excited about the location, Kirishi is a small town two hours outside of St Petersburg, Russia. I am excited to see my teammates Heather Petri and Moriah VanNorman who play for vouliagmeni the greek representative. May the best time win.

This weekend we played at home, in Catania, against a different team from Salerno but this time the result was far from favourable.  We knew that this game against Rari Nantes Nuoto Salerno (RN Salerno) would be tough because they are a few positions above us on the log but we had high hopes of coming out of the game as winners.  Unfortunately this was not to be our fate this weekend.  Normally we are very strong when we play at home, almost invincible, really, even beating the No. 2 team in a thrilling match 7-6 earlier in the championship.

Again we started the game badly and were down 3 goals after 6 minutes without reply before Luciano Ordile, our centre, was rewarded for his hard work with a 5m penalty which he also converted.  The 1st quarter ended 1-3 to RN Salerno.

The 2nd quarter belonged to us.  We played far smarter and harder than in the 1st quarter and the result showed it with us taking it 3-2.  RN Salerno continued their run from the 1st quarter and scored first to make the score 1-4.  Then Andrea Scozzarella scored for us when we were extra-man to bring us back into the game.  RN Salerno scored again, 2-5.  Later, RN Salerno had an extra-man opportunity which they squandered and I took advantage of their mistake to counter and score, shooting to the near corner and beating the keeper’s outstretched right hand. Score at 3-5.  The next goal belonged to Peppe Costa, our captain, who was playing his last game of the season for us as he is moving to Milan to continue his studies.  After a slow and seemingly fruitless attack, he took a foul outside the 5m and shot at goal, scoring passed the keepers right hand side.  So from being on the verge of another bad quarter we recovered nicely to keep ourselves firmly in the game at 4-5.  I felt like from here the game could go either way and had high hopes of pulling this game out the fire, all we had to do was continue our strong defence and play smart polo on attack.

Unfortunately this was not to be the case and in the 3rd quarter we completely lost the plot.  Typical “3QS” - 3rd Quarter Syndrome.  We scored one goal from an extra-man when we called a Time-Out and Valerio Ensabella (our lefty) scored easily to complete our set move.  But that was very much the only highlight for us as the visitors swam all over us and seemingly scored when they pleased, scoring 4 goals to our 1.  Score:  5-9.  We were not completely out of this contest, 4/5 goals in the last quarter is never impossible with a little risk and a lot of determination.

The 4th quarter however did not go the way of the home team and again the visitors dominated the proceedings by scoring 3 goals to our 1.  The one goal of ours came from me, at the end of another seemingly fruitless and static attack the ball arrived in my possession 7/8m from the goals, took the foul and shot as hard as I could, beating my defender to score over the keepers head… Quite a pearler really, but at this stage in the game there was no real time for acknowledgement.  RN Salerno scored one more goal after mine to seal the deal and finish the game 6-11.

That marks the end of the 1st round in this season’s Championship.  So far we’ve experienced some very daring and exhilarating high’s along with a few disheartening and emotional low’s.
I am looking forward to the return leg of this Championship and know that it is going to be even harder and the work required will take its toll but I only hope that we can stick together as a team and play the way I know we can, with flare and tenacity.

At the moment YMCA Pallanuoto Catania is lying 8th on the log out of 11, but in the last 2 games we’ve lost against two teams that we should have beaten which would’ve left us at either 6/7.  A far better position than our current place, but we can’t be left with “the could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done”.  We have to take our chances and capitalize every time.

Stay tuned for more updates as the drama of this year’s Championship unfolds each week, hopefully fortune will favour us and the wins will come our way.  Hold thumbs.

Till next time,

Nic