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Olympic dream still alive for Canadian women's water polo squad despite loss to Spain

Canada's Axelle Crevier (3) throws the ball while Netherlands' Iris Wolves (5) defends during a preliminary round women's water polo match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. The Olympic hopes of the Canadian women's water polo team remain alive despite a 12-9 loss to Spain on Monday in quarterfinal action at the world aquatics championships. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mark Humphrey

DOHA, Qatar — The Olympic hopes of the Canadian women's water polo team remain alive despite a 12-9 loss to Spain on Monday in quarterfinal action at the world aquatics championships.

Canada struggled early and went into the half down 7-2.

The Canadians responded with an improved second half, outscoring Spain 6-4. But it fell well short of making up the difference.

"We are obviously disappointed with that loss. We definitively wanted to be in the top four," Canada captain Emma Wright said. "However, I'm also really proud of how the team fought towards the end. I think it showed that we have a lot of fight and a lot of character on our team, so I'm proud of how we ended the game."

However, Canada was extended a lifeline after Greece defeated Italy 14-12 in Monday's last quarterfinal.

That result meant three of the four semifinalists at worlds — Greece, the United States and Spain — are teams that have already qualified for this year's Paris Games. Two Olympic spots are available in Doha for countries that have not already qualified.

Hungary earned one of the spots by advancing to the semifinals, and the second will go to either Canada or Italy, who are playing along with Australia and the Netherlands for places five through eight. 

Australia and the Netherlands have already qualified for Paris.

Canada faces Australia and Italy takes on the Netherlands on Wednesday. The winners play for fifth place and the losers for seventh place on Friday.

Australia and Canada spent part of their training camp together before arriving in Doha.

"We know the team well," Wright said of Australia. "They are a strong team, they always come out to fight, so we need to be ready for that. I think that now, it's just important to rest and get ready for this game and make sure we refocus, because it's not over yet."

Italy defeated Canada 12-8 in group-stage play on Thursday.

In Monday's game Montreal's Axelle Crevier was the leading scorer for Canada with three goals. Winnipeg's Shae La Roche added two goals while Toronto's Verica Bakoc, Montreal's Elyse Lemay-Lavoie, Serena Browne of Pointe-Claire, Que., and Marilia Mimides, a native of Glyfalda, Greece, who has Canadian citizenship through her mother, had a goal each.

Spain's Judith Forca Ariza led all scorers with five goals.

"It was a hard-fought game by our team," Canada head coach David Paradelo said. "We showed a lot of character to stay in the game and try to come back after we started a bit slow in setting up our offence, and it ended up paying off deeper into the game, but too little."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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