Soler-powered Sliema take semi-final lead

Thursday, August 23, 2012, 15:03

Sliema McDonalds came back in the first semifinal game of the waterpolo Premier League playoffs to beat a resilient San Giljan Giuseppe’s side 12-10. The Blues were still reeling from last week’s disappointing game against Sirens that cost them the first place in the league table, with San Giljan taking the upper hand in the first half of the game. The hero for Sliema was undoubtedly their captain John Soler who scores half of his team’s 12 goals, in what was his best game of the season so far.

John Soler - 6 goals against San Giljan

John Soler - 6 goals against San Giljan

Matthew Zammit and Nicola Sutic scored for the Giljanizi in the first session with Ferenc Salamon and Jerome Gabarretta making it 2-2. San Giljan were more incisive in the second session, in what some perceived as a decisive push to victory, as Karl Izzo’s men scored 3 goals through their foreign duo with Soler opening his account to make it 5-3 at half time. At the change of ends both teams had the pivotal Matthew Zammit and Mark Meli on two fouls.

The Saints’ advantage was short lived as Sliema sprung to life in the second half. Soler carried his team to 5-5 with two of his trademark goals, with Daniel Paolella following to give the advantage to Sliema for the first time in the match, 6-5. Following this black patch for San Giljan, Boris Letica and Sutic fired past Gergely to bring the Balluta side back on top, 7-6. Soler restored parity just before the end of the 3rd session.

In the final 8 minutes Sliema rose to the occasion, scoring four goals through Brownrigg, Soler (2) and Salamon to put the game beyond the reach of their opponents, 11-7. Zammit and Sutic gave their team a lifeline with a goal each bringing the score to 11-9, but the damage had already been done, with Soler and Sutic then getting their sixth personal goal each on the day for a final 12-10 score in Sliema’s favour.

Both teams will once again face off on tomorrow, Friday 24th August, at 7:15pm for Game 2 of the semi0final playoffs. Sliema have a chance to close the series with a victory, while a win for San Giljan will send both team to a decider on Sunday.

Before tomorrow’s Sliema v San Giljan game, at 6pm, Valletta will take on Otters in game 1 of the Division 1 Semifinal playoff.

Sliema 12 – San Ġiljan 10
(2-2, 1-3, 4-2, 5-3)

Sliema: I. Gergelj, J. Gabaretta 1, N. Lubrano, P. Privitera 1, M. Meli, J. Soler 6, D. Paolella 1, J. Brownrigg 1, C. Debono, F. Salamon 2, C. Cluett, M. Spiteri Staines, J. Falzon.

San Ġiljan: D. Camilleri, J.C. Cutajar, N. Sutic 6, K. Galea, K. Dowling, M. Zammit 2, B. Letica 2, A. Bianchi, K. Mock, C. Gialanze, P. Fava, D. Abela, M. Pisani.

Refs: M. Dalli, G. Lo Dico.

Sirens 11 - Exiles 10
(1-2, 2-3, 3-2, 4-3 – 1-0, 0-0)

Sirens: A. Grech, A. Attard, L. Caruana, A. Sammut, A. Babay 3, C. Kiss 4, J. Borg 1, D. Cutajar, A. Zarb Cousin 1, C. Zammit 1, C. Spiteri de Barro, D. Zammit 1, N. Grixti.

Exiles: A. Borg Cole, J. Rizzo Naudi, K. Rizzo Naudi, D. Pace Lupi, T. Sullivan 5, S. Vassallo, J. Spiteri Staines 1, K. Grixti, M. Paris, P. Borg, A. Kunac, M. Toth 3, K. Lanzon 1.

Refs: I. Sciriha, M. Angilleri.


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