Volume 1 Number 4          March 15, 2009

Subject: the ligurian coast- italy's mecca of water polo

I just spent the last 4 days in italy's ligurian coast, it was beautiful and full of water polo. Within a 20 km span there are about 5 or 6 prestigious water polo clubs..Ill name the ones I know, there is Nervi which has an A1 women and mens team, Kelly Rulon plays for Nervi. Recco, who is one of the most decorated club teams in Europe, Sori who is owned by Recco who has just moved up the ranks into A1 a couple years ago. Camogli, who is in A2 and is coached by one of our own Ricardo Azevedo. Bogliasco, an A1 men's team that Jeff Powers plays for. Rapallo, an A1 women's team where Cassie Azevedo plays for.

I was able to accompany my team to their game against Nervi and their training trip up in the ligurian coast, we trained with Nervi a few days. I usually dont accompany the team when they play away because I dont play in the italian league games but they decided to make it a training trip because they would play Fiorentina on wed, they wanted to cut back on the traveling and prepare for their big game with another team. On Sunday evening we went for a stroll in camogli and I ran into Ricardo, Cassie and Kelly. It was so great to sit and speak english with friends and to take in this awesome european water polo experience with other fellow americans. If anyone is contemplating about going to Italy with their club team, I would suggest that region. I favor sicily, especially catania but there are more pools and more availability in liguriant region. I fell in love with the region. Some of my teammates warned me that we were lucky to have such good weather the whole time we were there. I guess it rains a lot and you can't enjoy the great sea side view.

I was extra lucky this trip and was also able to meet up with Betsey Armstrong my olympic teammate. She plays for Varese, a team near Milan. Betsey and her mom caught a train to have a wonderful lunch with my teammates and I. We had the best pesto pasta ever and a cheese foccacia to die for. I guess those are two of the specialities of the city of Recco. Where we were staying. It was a great trip which we topped off with a three hour drive to florence were my team played against Fiorentina in the return game of the italian league schedule. The pulled off a win and now we are back in Catania, where are preparation for the Champions Cup will begin..

YMCA pallanuoto Catania vs Acicastello - Saturday, 14 March 2009

This was a DO or DIE match for both teams, a real "winner takes all" situation.  Before the match YMCA had 9 points in the league and Acicastello had 7.  Who ever won would take home a deserved 3 points.  This match had all the ingredients for a cracking Derby Day and it certainy turned out that way with the crowd turning from 100 people to 300 people to well over 700 people in attendance.  There was a growing atmosphere of anticipation filling the arena, there was no room for error, both teams had to play at their best to win.  The previous match of this Championship brought favour to Acicastello in an awesome Derby Day match, the score was 10-11 to Acicastello and this next match was just the same, the tension was intense with both teams giving 100% and leaving nothing to what could have been...

The 1st quarter was very close, and this time we didn't concede first but instead Lelio Salvi scored from our 1st Extra man opportunity after about 4 minutes of goaless attacks.  However soon after Acicastello equalised and that's how we ended the 1st quarter, 1-1.

The 2nd quarter did not go as we had planned at all.  We were punished for some lax defending and silly mistakes on attack which turned into counter attack opportunities for them.  Final score of the 2nd period was 3-5.  Very poor performance from us and at this stage, after taking 4 goals in 1 quarter, I was thinking we had a psychological mountain to climb to get back in this.

But that thinking was quickly changed when straight away in the 3rd Luca Martino scored on Extra man to breathe some life back into the team.  I scored 2 minutes later when I drove from the top of the D to the right of the goal, I stopped just outside the 5m mark, Lelio passed to me and my defender fouled hard so he could drop back on the centre, leaving me with just enough time and space to jump and shoot cross cage, effectively netting our equalizer. This didn't last long as Acicastello responded immediately to go up again, 5-6.  But that's where Acicastello's resistance stopped.  YMCA continue to dominate and scored another 3 times to make the score 8-6 going into the last quarter.  We were in a very good space at this point and everyone was feeling very confident and revitalized with a 2 goal cushion, perhaps a little too confident...

We did not carry our momentum from the 3rd quarter into the 4th, instead Acicastello brought their BMT.  They scored immediately after the swim-off, 8-7.  I felt like it was nothing because after all we still another goal in hand and we were playing well.   But we just couldn't hold our nerve and when they scored twice more to take a lead of 8-9, the pressure was on for the next 3 mins, we had to score to draw level and boy did we try everything but the "Polo Gods" were not on our side for that last quarter, we couldn't get one goal.  Acicastello scored 3 goals to our 0 in the last, this was the defining difference between the teams on Saturday.  Score 8-9.

This was a very bitter pill to swallow and tough on the whole team, we had to win that game.  And now in the league, we're still on 9 points and Acicastello has rocketed to 10 points.  We've been on 9 points for the last 5 weeks and this run of losses is really taking it's toll on the moral of the team.  We have to find a win soon or this leg of the Champioship is going to get very rough.  We have 10 games remaining so lets hope we can get back on that winning track and save our Championship.  We have to!!