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Emily Csikos led Canada with a hat trick against the Russians Wednesday in Rome. ((Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images))

The Canadian women's water polo team secured at least a silver medal by upsetting the Russians 8-7 Wednesday at the world aquatics championships in Rome.

Emily Csikos led the way for the women with a hat trick and Krystina Alogbo added a pair of goals.

Dominique Perreault, who scored seven goals in her previous two games, netted another on Wednesday. Christine Robinson and Marina Radu also scored for Canada (5-0-1).

Unheralded prior to the tournament, Canada defeated a Russian team that won the 2008 European championships.

"It's huge for the team," said head coach Patrick Oaten. "When we're in Europe, everyone tries to tell us that water polo is a European game. And we come into the competition and everyone is talking about the Europeans, the Europeans, the Europeans and then, of course, the U.S.

"So no one talks about us, no one expects us to perform. But this team has it, it's performing right now."

Hungary dunked

The Canadians went 3-0-1 in the preliminaries before defeating the powerful Hungarian squad 9-7 in their quarter-final on Monday.

Trailing 4-2 in the third quarter, Russia stormed back to tie the Canadians 5-5. However, a three-goal fourth quarter gave Canada its impressive victory.

Russia closed the gap to 8-7 on a penalty shot by Natalia Ryshova-Alenicheva with 39 seconds remaining. With the tension growing, Canada tried to regain its composure. Looking for the equalizer, the Russians did the same with seven seconds left and almost tied the game after Ekaterina Pantyulina hit the post.

Canada now takes on the United States, which defeated Greece 8-7 in Friday's other semifinal matchup.

"They're a very big team, very strong team. They have a lot of experience from the past Olympics," said Oaten. "Us and the Russians have been the only two teams that have beaten them all year."

With files from The Canadian Press