VICTORIA – Canada defeated Brazil 13-10 in overtime on Thursday night to win the gold medal at the UANA Cup men’s water polo tournament. Both countries had clinched the two qualifying spots for the 2011 FINA World Aquatic Championships this July but appeared just as hungry to get the tournament title as the gold medal match went down to the wire. ‘’It’s a great way to start the season,’’ said Kevin Graham of Regina who notched three goals including one in overtime. ‘’The game was a little tighter than we would have liked but the guys showed a lot of character coming back strong in the overtime.’’
Nicolas Bicari-Constantin of Montreal also scored three times with Omar Touni of Montreal and Jared McElroy of Calgary adding two each with singles to Jon Conway of Ottawa, Aaron Feltham of Lindsay, Ont., and Constantine Kudaba of Port Coquitlam, B.C. The Brazilians, ranked 13th in the world, showed they meant business early grabbing a 3-1 first quarter lead. However the Canadians, eighth at the 2009 world championships, produced a strong second quarter to emerge with a 7-5 lead at the half.
After both teams scored twice in the third, the Brazilians sent the match to overtime tying it up with less than two minutes remaining. All the extra time goals were scored in the second three-minute overtime half. ‘’There was no way we were going to lose this game,’’ said Touni, 19, in his first career tournament with the senior national team. ‘’I think our preparation in the end really paid off. We had a physical edge and we were the fastest team out there.’’
Argentina took third spot in the three-country tournament. Both the world championships and the Pan Am Games in October will be Olympic qualifying events for next year’s London Games.