Aussie Sharks Upset Olympic Champions at Super Series
Defence was the key to the Aussie Sharks’ surprise victory over reigning Olympic champions Croatia at the BHP Billiton Aquatic Super Series tonight.
Croatia’s line-up included six members of its London 2012 Olympic winning team, yet they were thwarted by Australia’s strong defence and pinpoint strategy in extra man.
The Sharks led from the start, getting to a quick 3-0 lead in the early minutes.
It was anticipated to be a physical encounter as Johno Cotteril and Croatian Luke Loncar went head to head in the centre.
Richie Campbell opened the Aussie’s account with two goals in the first quarter followed by one from William Miller.
Croatia caught up with two quick goals Franco Geratovic and Andelo Setka before quarter time.
With great defence from Australians and a few sloppy misses by Croatia the match settled and the teams traded goals to rest at 4-4 at half time.
In the third quarter Campbell continued his dominance with an early goal as Luka Loncar fouled out with three majors for Croatia.
Miller claimed a second goal with strong shot from the top in extra man while Setka snuck the ball under Australian goalkeeper Luke Quinlivan’s arms.
On a side note, both Australian goalies, Quinlivan and Eddie Slade were sporting beards tonight.
According to their teammates, “it’s a goalie thing”.
Back to the match and a Tyler Martin tap-in during another Australian extra man attack, followed by a blasting outside shot by Aaron Younger and the score was 8-6 at the final change.
The last quarter was physical and as Croatian coach Ivica Tucak questioned the referees, Younger sealed the match for Australia with a ripper from the top.
Croatia did their best to fight back with Peter Muslim digging in for two last ditch goals, but the Aussies held on to win 12-9.
Australia was heavy in defence with Nathan Power fouling out in the third quarter.
It’s a tactic the team has been working on since head coach former Croatian assistant Elvis Fatovic took over last year, according to Younger.
“Our focus at training has been in defence and extra man,” he said after the match.
“It’s one of the most important facets of the game.”
Fatovic was pleased with the win, but said there were still areas for improvement.
“We need to avoid that black hole where we were in front 3-0 and then all of a sudden it was 3-2,” he said.
Fatovic said the Aquatic Super Series was a great opportunity for Australia to play against a top level team, the first time they have met since the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona.