WPWL 2010 (Women): China upsets on opening day of Super Finals

World League

credit: Russell McKinnonChina scored a big upset on the opening day of the women's water polo FINA World League Super Finals at La Jolla, California today. China turned over Olympic champion the Netherlands 7-5 in what is being touted as the strongest women¹s competition of the year. Featuring the top eight teams in the world, the week promises to provide plenty of action as day one showed. China's return from a disappointing 2009 proves that Spanish coach Juan Jane's influence is beginning to reap benefits. World No 2 Canada is working toward a peak for the FINA World Cup in Christchurch, New Zealand in August while the European teams have the European Championships to contend with.

Canada worked well within itself and head coach Pat Oaten said he never felt that the team would lose. World Cup champion Australia sent a message to the competition with a 6-1 lead over Russia, finishing 12-8 ahead. Australia has just completed a month-long sojourn in Italy and looked sharp throughout. World champion United States of America, fresh from a home series with China, turned a 6-5 deficit into an 11-9 victory over Greece.

Match 1. 14:15. NETHERLANDS 5 CHINA 7
Quarters: 2-1, 0-2, 2-3, 1-1
NETHERLANDS: Ilsa VAN DER MEIJDEN, Yasemin SMIT, Mieke CABOUT, Biurakin HAKHVERDIAN (2), Sabrina VAN DER SLOOT (1), Nomi STOMPHORST, Iefke VAN BELKUM (1), Noeki KLEIN (1), Jantien CABOUT, Nienke VERMEER, Lieke KLAASSEN, Marloes NIJHUIS, Anne HEINES. Head Coach: Mauro MAUGERI.
CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei (2), LIU Ping, SUN Yujun (1), HE Jin, SUN Yating (1), ZHANG Lei, GAO Ao (1), WANG Yi (1), MA Huanhuan, SONG Donglun, CHEN Yuan (1), ZHANG Cong, ZHU Yating. Head Coach: Juan JANE.

China caused the first upset of the tournament with victory over the Olympic champion Netherlands. The Dutch looked set to score in the last minute but Yasemin Smit’s shot came to nothing. China went on the attack with about 40 seconds to go and earned a valuable exclusion. China went to a timeout and SUN Yujun shot from an oblique angle only to be deflected by Dutch goalkeeper Ilse VAN DER MEIJDEN. CHEN Yuan drove to the centre to flick the loose ball into goal for the two-goal margin. The game was well in control for the Chinese who are fresh from a series with the United States of America.  China dominated the extra-man statistics with five from seven while the Dutch claimed three from seven. The Dutch led 2-1 at the quarter but TENG Feihu and GAO Ao had the Chinese ahead at halftime. A three-goal spurt in the third period, with two of those goals on extra, saw China comfortably out 6-3. The Dutch response was an Iefe VAN BELKUM extra-man goal four seconds from the third break. Biurakin HAKHVERDIAN scored an excellent, muscling extra-man shot two minutes into the final period for 6-5 and it wasn’t until the final second that China cemented victory. Such was the Chinese dominance in shooting that VAN DER MEIJDEN had to make a staggering 20 saves compared to YANG Jun’s 11.

credit: Russell McKinnon

Match 2. 15:45. AUSTRALIA 12 RUSSIA 8
Quarters: 5-1, 2-2, 2-2, 3-3
AUSTRALIA: Victoria BROWN, Gemma BEADSWORTH (1), Keesja GOFERS, Alicia BRIGHTWELL, Jane MORAN (3), Bronwen KNOX (2), Rowena WEBSTER (2), Glencora RALPH (1), Jemma DESSAUVAGIE (1), Zoe ARANCINI, Melissa RIPPON (1), Nicola ZAGAME (1), Kelsey WAKEFIELD.  Head Coach: Greg McFADDEN.
RUSSIA: Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA, Nadezda GLYZINA (2), Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA, Sofya KONUKH (1), Alexandra ANTONOVA, Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA (1), Ekaterina TANKEEVA, Evgenia SOBOLEVA (1), Olexandra KARPOVICH (1), Olga BELYAEVA (2), Evgeniya IVANOVA, Yulia GAUFLER, Anna USTYUKHINA. Head Coach: Alexandr KABANOV.

Australia showed blistering pace and confidence when leading 6-1 halfway through the second quarter.  It was a lead that Russia would never come back from. The late start was then matched goal for goal but Australia’s surge proved the critical factor at this high level. Australia used its balance and goals were shared around as Russia struggled to settle, missing two certain goals from point blank in a period where nothing went right. When settled, Russia managed to steal ball and scored when necessary. Australia was strong at centre forward with Jemma DESSAUVAGIE and Rowena WEBSTER scoring from the two metres, the first with a backhand and the second with sheer strength at a time when Russia had closed to 9-6. With 3:33 remaining Australia had the game at 11-6. Victoria BROWN (AUS) made 11 saves while Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA stopped seven.

credit: Russell McKinnon

Match 3. 17:15. CANADA 11 HUNGARY 9

Quarters: 3-3, 3-2, 2-1, 3-3
CANADA:  Rachel RIDDELL, Krystina ALOGBO, Katrina MONTON, Emily CSIKOS (2), Joelle BEKHAZI (1), Whitney GENOWAY, Rosanna TOMIUK, Dominique PERRAULT (3), Monika EGGENS (1), Christine ROBINSON (2), Tara CAMPBELL (1), Marina RADU (1), Marissa JANSSENS. Head Coach: Pat OATEN.
HUNGARY: Orsolya KASO, Hanna KISTELEKI, Rita POSZKOLI, Dora KISTELEKI (1), Gabriella SZUCS (2), Orsolya TAKACS (2), Rita DRAVUCZ (1), Rita KESZTHELYI (2), Ildiko TOTH (1), Barbara BUJKA, Agnes VALKAI, Patricia JANCSO, Aniko GYONGYOSSY. Head Coach: Matyas PETROVICS.

It was Hungary who held sway for much of the first half. Orsolya TAKACS saw to it that Hungary had 3-2 lead with two close-in shots late in the first quarter. Gabriella SZUCS gave Hungary a 5-4 lead at 3:33 in the second but Dominique PERRAULT for her second and Monika EGGENS on extra saw Canada make the move that won the game. PERRAULT’s third and then Joelle BEKHAZI’s late goal on extra maintained the pressure on the Hungarians. Tara CAMPBELL converted another extra chance for 9-6 at the top of the fourth. Rita KESZTHELYI struck twice from outside for 10-8 and captain Rita DRAVUCZ scored a decisive chance on extra at 2:51. Christine ROBINSON nailed an extra-man goal and Marina RADU had a chance to put the game away with less than 100 seconds remaining but lost the ball to the goalkeeper. Agnes VALKAI and KESZTHELYI had their chances blocked by Rachel RIDDELL, assuring a Canadian victory. Canada is looking to the FINA World Cup as the major mission for the year but coach Pat OATEN might rethink his plans with such an excellent showing. RIDDELL saved 14 shots and GYONGYOSSI made 10 for Hungary.

credit: Russell McKinnon


Quarters: 2-3, 3-3, 2-3, 2-2
GREECE:  Maria TSOURI, Christina TSOUKALA, Konstantina KOUTELI, Ilektra PSOUNI, Kyriaki LIOSI (2), Alkisti AVRAMIDOU, Alexandra ASIMAKI (1), Antigoni ROUMPESI (4), Angeliki GEROLYMOU (1), Triantafyllia MANOLIOUDAKI (1), Stavroula ANTONAKOU, Vasileia MAVRELOU, Eleni KOUVDOU. Head Coach: Georgios MORFESIS.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elizabeth ARMSTRONG, Heather PETRI, Courtney MATHEWSON (1), Brenda VILLA, Lauren WENGER (2), Tanya GANDY (1), Margaret STEFFENS (1), Lauren SILVER (1), Elsie WINDES (1), Kelly RULON, Annika DRIES (1), Kameryn CRAIG (3), Melissa SEIDEMANN. Head Coach: Adam KRIKORIAN.

The world champion United States of America came back from 5-4 down midway through the second quarter to grab a 6-5 lead at the long break. When Wenger fired in a long shot at 3:05 in the third period, the USA looked on top of its game at 9-6. But the veteran Antigoni ROUMPESI narrowed it to 9-7 with her third goal by the last break. In the third, Kamryn Craig was brutal at centre forward while her centre-forward team-mate Annika DRIES also showed supreme confidence in the position. Kyriaki LIOSI narrowed the margin to one with a counter-attack, off-the-water shot inside the last six minutes only to see Maggie STEFFENS reply at the other end. The USA sealed victory after a timeout, setting Lauren WENGER to score her second with less than 90 seconds remaining. ROUMPESI scored her fourth on extra from the top two seconds from time. Elizabeth ARMSTRONG saved 11 shots while Christina TSOUKALA made five. USA head coach Adam KRIKORIAN said it was a slow-paced game in the first half but that the team lifted in the second.

credit: Russell McKinnon