The Canadian women’s water polo team is off to the Round of 16 after defeating host Japan 17-12 at the World Aquatics Championships on Thursday.
The victory wrapped up a second-place finish in Pool D for a Canadian squad that also defeated New Zealand 13-11, and lost 11-10 to the 3-0 Hungarian team in the tournament opener.
With the top team in each of the four groups getting a bye, Canada enters the elimination round with a game versus South Africa – a team that avoided elimination with a 12-9 triumph over Argentina, but were on the receiving end of identical 24-2 losses to both Greece and Italy.
Canada will take on South Africa at 5:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, with the winner advancing to a quarterfinal match on Monday against a 3-0 Netherlands team that concluded third-place in the 2022 tournament.
Canada’s five-goal margin of victory on Thursday was its largest of group play, with Montreal’s Elyse Lemay-Lavoie making up that difference by herself with five goals.
Fellow Montreal native Axelle Crevier was named player of the game with a four-goal performance.
Hayley McKelvey of Delta, B.C., opened the scoring just 37 seconds into the first quarter, and Canada did not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
The Canadian women’s team has finished outside of the top 10 just once in its past 15 appearances at the worlds, with a silver medal at both the 1991 and 2009 events, and a bronze medal at the 2001 and 2005 tournaments.
On the men’s side, Canada is 1-1, looking to break a tie with France in the Pool B standings with a Friday matchup at 7:30 a.m. ET.