Hallock hits three from the centre as Recco bounce back

Jadran Split (CRO) v Pro Recco (ITA) 9-13

Recco tried to make it clear right at the beginning that they were determined to bounce back from the opening day defeat (in Piraeus), and staged a fine run in the first period to take a massive 0-3 lead. A quick 6m goal, a man-up and another hit from action and two killed man-down set the tone.

To reserve some hope at least, Marin Tomasovic netted Jadran’s third man-up 18 seconds before the first break. That helped as Luka Bukic went on netting an action goal early in the second for 2-3, so game ‘reopened’. In the following two minutes the pattern remained the same: Recco doubled their lead, the Croats halved it. After four consecutive possessions ending in a goal, the hosts had a couple of attempts to equalise, but could not create any danger. And despite of denying Recco in two man-ups, during the second, Andrea Fondelli’s shot after the corner-throw found the back of the net for 4-6. Jadran had a 6 on 5 after a time-out but missed it badly, while Ben Hallock netted a brilliant one from the centre for 4-7 and the Croats’ next man-up was wasted without a shot, so it didn’t look good at halftime.

Jadran had a better spell in third, after they buried a 6 on 4, Fondelli also hit one from an extra, but the home side could score from back-to-back possessions in 44 seconds so they cut their deficit to a single goal once more at 7-8. Soon Recco lost the ball due to a 2m violation in man-up, but a block denied the hosts to go even, and Matteo Iocchi didn’t miss the next 6 on 5 for Recco. Jadran blew away another man-up without a shot while Giacomo Cannella’s one-timer from the wing reset the 3-goal difference at 7-10 and coach Mile Smodlaka looked anything but happy at Jadran’s bench. Jerko Marinic-Kragic converted a penalty soon for 8-10, and fine defending in a man-down prevented the Italians from going up by three before the break.

After the middle two periods produced seven goals apiece, goals dried up a bit in the fourth. Jadran missed a 6 on 4 badly this time and they paid the price against the title-holders. When Hallock managed to push the ball in from close range from Fondelli’s great assist, Jadran was in trouble at 8-11 with 5:26 to go. And the clock was ticking down, but they were unable to break the Italian defence which was working brilliantly in this phase. Cannella added another action goal with 2:36 remaining and that ended the contest. Ivan Zovic could pull one back finally, his ball bounced in from the goalie’s hand, still it turned out to be Jadran’s only hit in the fourth, and it came too late, after 5:48 minutes. What’s more, Hallock could score another one from the centre, his third one – the American really made the difference in this match.

How they saw it

Mile Smodlaka, coach, Jadran

“If you make so many mistakes, especially in defence, it’s impossible to win against good teams. Well, we played against the best team in Europe so I’m not very disappointed.”

Sandro Sukno, coach, Recco

“We played very well in attack, we scored 13 goals in an away game, which is great, and I’m really satisfied with that. Now we have some time to prepare for the remaining two games in December.”