Lea Yanitsas shines against Canada as Aussie Stingers claim first Olympics win

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Three goals to Bronte Halligan and a goalkeeping masterclass from Lea Yanitsas has helped Australia to a comfortable 8-5 over Canada in women’s water polo action in Tokyo.

The Stingers led all game thanks to regular goals and Yanitsas’s (13-of-18) 72 per cent save rate, who was praised by both the commentators and her fellow teammates.

Canada worked back to 4-3 in the second quarter before Rowie Webster’s penalty shot skipped off the surface and hit the upright in what could have proved a turning point.

Australia’s women have opened their Tokyo water polo campaign with an 8-5 win over Canada. Credit: AAP

But Australia held their nerve, Zoe Arancini neatly lobbing the Canadian keeper Claire Wright (10 saves from 18 shots) to regain a two-goal buffer they would never relinquish.

The Stingers have finished first, fourth, third, third and sixth since women’s water polo was introduced, with the United States emerging as the clear super power after Australia pipped them for gold in Sydney.

“It’s been a long 16 months since our last international game,” dual bronze medallist Bronwen Knox said.

Australian players celebrate after a win over Canada in a preliminary round women’s water polo match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 24, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

“I was almost forced into retirement at one stage. It’s a tough slog to continue to be an athlete. I’ve had two-and-a-half years off work now.

“To support myself financially is extremely difficult. I’ve obviously got the support of Water Polo Australia and all my support networks back home.

READ MORE: ‘I’m so lucky’: Lea Yanitsas on qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics with the Aussie Stingers

“To get a win is a fantastic start to our campaign; we definitely progressed throughout the game and got more comfortable in there.”

Australia’s mens team – known as the Sharks – begin their campaign against Montenegro on Sunday, with Greek Australian Anthony Hrysanthos in goals.

Source: 7News

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