Torpedoes go down to Fremantle Marlins/Mariners in AWL opener

THE 2018 Australian Water Polo League season might have started with losses for the UWA Torpedoes men and women against Fremantle at Bicton Pool, but there were plenty of encouraging signs ahead of the grueling road trip to New South Wales in Round 3.

The new-look AWL season for 2018 got underway on Saturday night at Bicton Pool with a Western Derby as the Torpedoes headed south to tackle the Fremantle Marlins and Mariners.

The end results saw the Marlins win the women’s contest over the Torpedoes to begin proceedings with an 8-4 victory.

Then to close the night at Bicton, the Mariners also managed to beat a decidedly more youthful looking Torpedoes team for this season, 7-4.

It might not have been the results the Torpedoes were after to open the new season, but there were enough good signs to move forward with to provide plenty of optimism.

The night, and the season, got underway with the women’s contest at Bicton Pool. It was the Marlins who scored first through Mercedes Ralph who got one past new starting goalkeeper for the Torpedoes, Claire Durston, after the departure for Europe of Tess Hosking.

But UWA did well to draw back level thanks to American import Alyssa Diacono who scored her first goal in a Torpedoes cap. Fremantle did take a 2-1 lead into quarter-time, though, following a goal to Madeleine Quinn.

There was then just the one goal in the second period and it went the way of the Marlins courtesy of Erin Redbond when her team had the advantage of an extra man.

Fremantle went into half-time and the change of ends leading 3-1 but UWA hit back to start the second half with another goal to Diacono to cut the deficit to one.

Kelly Parks responded for the Marlins soon after but then Michelle Martinelli also got her first goal for the Torpedoes to make the margin one again. However, it was Fremantle who then got on a roll to close the third quarter with goals to Ralph, Lara Zimmerman and Redbond to lead 7-3.

The Torpedoes got one back with 40 seconds left on the clock through Tayla Walsh before Ralph added a third in the final quarter to give the Marlins the 8-4 victory.

In the end, the Torpedoes looked dangerous in attack and created plenty of good scoring chances but the goalkeeping of Fremantle’s Lillian Hedges was phenomenal.

Alyssa Diacono finished with two goals for the Torpedoes while Michelle Martinelli and Tayla Walsh scored one each.

Mercedes Ralph scored three goals for Fremantle and captain Erin Redbond two.

While it was a four-goal loss for the Torpedoes, the signs were significantly better than last year and there is still Canadian import Jakie Kohli and Dayna O’Leary to come into the line-up.

It was then time for the men’s contest and it was a very different looking Torpedoes team from the one that played off for the bronze medal last season.

Florian Naroska is no longer in the pool and is now coaching, Luke Quinlivan is his assistant and not in goals while Brett McGhie and Alex Bogunovich are among the others to have moved on making for what is an exceedingly youthful WA team in 2018.

UWA might have taken care of Fremantle in both meetings in 2017, but this was two different looking teams and it was the Mariners who scored the only goal of the first quarter courtesy of Clancy Neesham.

UWA’s opening goal of the 2018 season came to start the second period courtesy of Andrew Ford. But it was all the Mariners from there with the home team heading into half-time leading 3-1.

That grew to 5-1 when they scored the only two goals of the third period but UWA did come to life in the fourth term.

It started with American import Kevin Oliveira scoring a good goal before Japanese centre forward Kenta Araki also got one by Ed Slade. It was then suddenly just a one-goal game when Oliveira nailed another shot from the wing with 2:50 left on the clock.

Nick Redbond and James Fannon helped the Mariners respond, though, with the last two goals of the game as Fremantle won 7-4.

Kevin Oliveira finished with two goals on debut for the Torpedoes with Kenta Araki and Andrew Ford scoring one each.

The Torpedoes will now have the bye in Round 2 before embarking on the challenging six-day, six-game road trip to NSW. That begins on Tuesday February 13 against the Hunter Hurricanes in Newcastle. It’s then the same opponent the following day.

UWA then heads to Sydney to split games with the UNSW Wests Killer Whales/Magpies and UTS Balmain Tigers over the next four days.

That all leads into the opening home game for 2018 for the Torpedoes against the Fremantle Marlins and Mariners again at UWA Aquatic Centre on Friday February 23.

WOMEN: UWA Torpedoes 4 lost to Fremantle Marlins 8 at Bicton Pool
MEN: UWA Torpedoes 4 lost to Fremantle Mariners 7 at Bicton Pool