GWANGJU (South Korea) July 16: South Korea scored its first women's water polo goal at the swimming world championships Tuesday, a rare cause for celebration for a team that took a beating for the second straight game.
Kyung Da-seul had the debuting team's maiden goal midway through the fourth quarter in a 30-1 defeat to Russia in Group B play at the FINA World Championships at Nambu University Water Polo Competition Venue in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul. South Korea has lost both matches so far in Group B, with the final preliminary match against Canada scheduled for Thursday.
South Korea received its place in the tournament as the host nation and the women's team was only assembled about a month ago. A dozen of the 13 players are teenagers with swimming backgrounds and no previous experience in water polo.
Russia opened the scoring 57 seconds into the contest with a penalty shot by Daria Ryzhkova.
South Korea had just one shot on net against Hungary, whose defenders often trapped South Korean ball carriers and thwarted what few passing attempts their opponents had. The Russians were sitting back on defense and gave South Korea some space, and the players obliged by floating a few shots toward the net, and recorded 19 shots on target.
With about two minutes left in the first quarter, Ryan Hanna Yoon hit the crossbar, as close as South Korea came to scoring its first goal in the opening frame.
With a victory being a highly improbable proposition, the South Korean players have stated their objective here is to score at least once.
In the dying seconds of the second quarter, Kyung rang one off the top of the crossbar, and South Korea recorded eight shots on target in the first half.
Midway through the third, Yoon had a shot go off the hands of goalkeeper Evgeniia Golovina and then the bottom of the bar. And shots kept coming, though South Korean players didn't get enough behind them to beat the Russian netminder.
Kyung finally had her moment with 4:16 left in the final frame, scoring one from the right side and easing the pain of another rout in the making.
Kyung's goal cut the deficit to 27-1, but Russia tacked on three more to round out the scoring.
South Korea put 19 shots on Golovina, and had 30 shot attempts in total. Kyung led everyone with a dozen shots.
"Even though I put the ball in the net, this was a goal produced by the entire team," Kyung said. "I didn't think the shot was going to go in. This still hasn't hit me yet."
The men's team, also playing in its first world championships, had three goals in a loss to Greece in the opening preliminary game Monday.
There are four groups of four teams in the women's tournament, and the top seeds will advance directly to the quarterfinals. The No. 2 and No. 3 ranked teams from the four groups will meet in the playoffs to determine who will take the remaining quarterfinal spots. The rest will be relegated to the ranking playoffs.