WPWL 2010 (Women): Australia, Greece, Russia and USA advance to semifinals

World League

credit: Russell McKinnonAustralia will play 2008 champion Russia while four-times winner United States of America will clash with 2005 winner Greece in the semifinals of the women’s water polo FINA World League Super Finals at La Jolla, California tomorrow. The teams earned the honour after the quarter-final round on day four of the six-day event at the La Jolla High School aquatic complex. Amazingly, all semifinalists are from Group B. The Greeks earned the opening spot when they surrendered 6-1 and 10-4 leads to allow Hungary back into the game, forcing a penalty shootout with a 4-1 final quarter. The Hungarians struggled to convert, missing three times with the last miss from captain Rita DRAVUCZ skipping wide to give Greece victory. The World Cup champion Aussie Stingers earned the second berth with a solid effort against the Olympic champion Netherlands — 10-7 — in a game where goalkeeper Victoria BROWN dominated with 17 saves. Russia dragged down the third spot, defeating China 10-6 after earlier leading 4-1. The host nation USA won a tense encounter with close rival Canada — 7-4 —  especially as Canada led 3-0 after the first quarter. This is the seventh version of the women’s FINA World League with all six titles owned by three of the semifinalists.

Match 13. 14:30. 2A HUNGARY 13 3B GREECE 14 in penalty shootout (FT: 11-11. Pens: 2-3)
Quarters: 1-4, 3-4, 3-2, 4-1. Pens:
HUNGARY: Orsolya KASO, Hanna KISTELEKI, Rita POSZKOLI, Dora KISTELEKI (1), Gabriella SZUCS (5), Orsolya TAKACS, Rita DRAVUCZ (2), Rita KESZTHELYI (2), Ildiko TOTH (1), Barbara BUJKA (1), Agnes VALKAI, Patricia JANCSO (1), Aniko GYONGYOSSY. Head Coach: Matyas PETROVICS.
GREECE:  Maria TSOURI, Christina TSOUKALA (2), Konstantina KOUTELI, Ilektra PSOUNI, Kyriaki LIOSI (3), Alkisti AVRAMIDOU (1), Alexandra ASIMAKI (2), Antigoni ROUMPESI (1), Angeliki GEROLYMOU (3), Triantafyllia MANOLIOUDAKI, Stavroula ANTONAKOU (2), Vasileia MAVRELOU, Eleni KOUVDOU. Head Coach: Georgios MORFESIS.

Greece survived a Hungarian revival and a penalty shootout to head to the semifinals at the expense of Hungary. To Hungary’s credit, it came back from 6-1 down and 10-4 down to achieve the draw as Greece was crumbling. Greece was the team who came to play. The first three goals that went through the Hungarian shield were poorly marked, if at all. The 4-0 start proved very hard for Hungary to come back from. It moved to 6-1 before Hungary put aside the disappointment and score three consecutive goals for 6-4. However, Greece scored two goals either side of the long break for 10-4. Then the new-look Hungarian team, which swapped goalkeepers back to No 1 Aniko GYONGYOSSY before the break, rattled in four goals by the end of the third. Greece was starting to struggle under the onslaught. Gabriella SZUCS immediately drew to within two in the fourth, just before Alexandra ASIMAKI blew up and was sent for misconduct. Goals were traded but then Barbara BUJKE made it 11-10. Another foul and Hungary went to a timeout at 3:33 with a strong sniff of a semifinal berth. However, Rita KESZTHELYI’ s shot hit the bar. The levelling shot came soon after when Ildiko TOTH converted on extra when unguarded at two metres. Greece called a timeout on extra at 2:09 but the resulting shot was from the worst possible angle, hitting the upright. Hungary hit the bar at the other end as did Greece. SZUCS shot and missed and fouled out but Greece failed to convert the extra and the game went to a penalty shootout. KISTELEKI hit the cross bar on the first shot to miss; ANTONAKOU grazed the right into goal; KESZTHELYI scored; LiOSI hit the right upright; TAKACS had her attempt blocked by TSOURI; AVRAMIDOU sent it into the bottom right for a 13-12 advantage; SZUCS fired to the left as TSOURI went the other way; GEROLYMOU scored bottom right for 14-13; DRAVUCZ skipped the ball to the left and Greece had a semifinal berth.

credit: Russell McKinnon

Match 14. 16:00. 3A NETHERLANDS 7 2B AUSTRALIA 10
Quarters: 2-3, 0-1, 2-4, 3-2
NETHERLANDS: Ilsa VAN DER MEIJDEN, Yasemin SMIT (3), Mieke CABOUT (1), Biurakin HAKHVERDIAN, Sabrina VAN DER SLOOT, Nomi STOMPHORST (1), Iefke VAN BELKUM (2), Noeki KLEIN, Jantien CABOUT, Nienke VERMEER, Lieke KLAASSEN, Marloes NIJHUIS, Anne HEINES. Head Coach: Mauro MAUGERI.
AUSTRALIA: Victoria BROWN, Gemma BEADSWORTH (1), Sophie SMITH, , Keesja GOFERS, Jane MORAN (1), Bronwen KNOX (1), Rowena WEBSTER (1), Glencora RALPH (3), Jemma DESSAUVAGIE, Zoe ARANCINI (1), Melissa RIPPON, Nicola ZAGAME (2), Kelsey WAKEFIELD.  Head Coach: Greg McFADDEN.

Australia shot into the semifinals with a healthy margin over the Olympic champion Netherlands team. The statistics told the story of the game with the biggest of those being Australian goalkeeper Victoria BROWN’s 17 saves. Not just touches but many were full-blooded missiles into her body, around her body and into corners. Hers was the standout performance of the match. The fact that Australia was in foul trouble throughout was also critical. With 14 major fouls accumulated to the Netherlands’ five, the Aussie wall was steadfast. The Dutch converted just four from 14 while Australia only managed one from five attempts. The Dutch were in touch for some time but you would have to say Rowena WEBSTER’s calmly taken five-metre, free-throw effort three seconds from three-quarter time for 8-4 was a critical turning point in the game. That and the earlier ejection on three major fouls of Aussie Stingers captain Bronwen Knox. The Dutch pressured in the final quarter and at just 9-6 behind with more than five minutes remaining, looked a viable option for the semifinals. However, staunch Aussie defence and BROWN’s exceptional defence kept the Dutch at bay. It’s worth noting that BROWN was the tournament’s best goalkeeper at the 2007 version in Montreal, Canada. Glencora RALPH took her tournament tally to 10 goals with a hat-trick.

credit: Russell McKinnon

Match 15. 17:30. 1A CHINA 6 4B RUSSIA 10
Quarters: 1-3, 3-2, 1-3, 1-2
CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei, LIU Ping, SUN Yujun, HE Jin, SUN Yating (1), ZHANG Lei, GAO Ao (1), WANG Yi, MA Huanhuan (3), SONG Donglun (1), CHEN Yuan, ZHANG Cong. Head Coach: Juan JANE.
RUSSIA: Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA, Anna TIMOFEEVA (1), Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA, Sofya KONUKH (2), Alexandra ANTONOVA, Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA (2), Ekaterina TANKEEVA (1), Evgenia SOBOLEVA (2), Olexandra KARPOVICH, Olga BELYAEVA (1), Evgeniya IVANOVA (1), Yulia GAUFLER, Anna USTYUKHINA, Evgeniya PUSTYINNIKOVA. Head Coach: Alexandr KABANOV.

Group winner China did not get past the quarter-finals while Russia, fourth in its group, earned a shot at the semifinals. The 2008 champion from Tenerife, Spain gave up a goal and watched as China missed a penalty attempt before getting into the game. Four straight goals had Russia sitting pretty at the top of the second. But then China struck and won the second period 3-2. China coach Juan JANE complained bitterly about the contra fouls called against his team and received a yellow card. Russia struck twice on extra at the start of the third period for 7-4. Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA grabbed her second of the quarter from the penalty line for 8-5 going into the last. When international newcomer SONG Donglun scored from eight metres at 6:36 in the last period, China was still a chance for the semifinals. But the wind went out of China’s sails as neither team could score for three minutes until Evgenia SOBOLEVA lobbed YANG Jun at 3:04. When veteran Sofya KONUKH converted extra inside the last minute, Russia — winner of gold, silver and bronze at this event (the only nation to do so) — was through to a clash with Australia.

credit: Russell McKinnon

Quarters: 3-0, 0-3, 1-2, 0-2
CANADA:  Rachel RIDDELL, Krystina ALOGBO, Katrina MONTON, Emily CSIKOS (2), Joelle BEKHAZI (1), Whitney GENOWAY, Rosanna TOMIUK, Dominique PERRAULT, Monika EGGENS, Christine ROBINSON, Tara CAMPBELL (1), Marina RADU, Marissa JANSSENS. Head Coach: Pat OATEN.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elizabeth ARMSTRONG, Heather PETRI, Erika FIGGE, Brenda VILLA (2), Lauren WENGER (1), Tanya GANDY (1), Margaret STEFFENS, Lauren SILVER (1), Elsie WINDES, Kelly RULON, Annika DRIES, Kameryn CRAIG (2), Melissa SEIDEMANN. Head Coach: Adam KRIKORIAN.

In a rematch of last year’s FINA World Championships in Rome, unbeaten USA defeated Canada 7-4. Canada’s early dominance was smothered by USA’s defence, allowing just one penalty goal in the next three quarters. Canada showed no respect for the USA’s worldly status and rammed home three goals in the opening period. Stung by the assault on their reputation, the USA girls fired back into the game with three goals of their own to have a tied half. Kameryn CRAIG scored the first two, the first on extra and the second a superb turn at two metres, much like she did when she gave USA the leveller against Australia to force penalties on Tuesday. If Canada had done better than one from eight on extra-man plays, the score could have much different. Brenda VILLA forced the USA to the front with a six-metre blast on the first attack of the third period. The euphoria was short-lived as Emily CSIKOS levelled14 seconds later with a penalty goal. The frenzy continued with Lauren WENGER — the standout player of the 2007 FINA World Championships in Melbourne, Australia — netting from three metres. The scorers then had little to do for the rest of the period except for when USA went to a timeout but could not convert the opportunity. By now there were 23 major fouls. USA had 2/7 and Canada 1/11 on extra. The USA had as many field blocks as goalkeeper saves, such was the defence. Lauren SILVER pushed USA out to 6-4 with a push-in off a rebound at 4:34. SILVER’s more used to screaming balls in from well outside. International player of the decade VILLA gave the win to the USA with the 7-4 score. Soon after Canadian captain Krystina ALOGBO was ejected for misconduct — her second for the tournament. USA went to a timeout in the final minute and used the time to preserve the by-now abundant lead. Canada had the last roll of the dice when VILLA was ejected but Dominique PERRAULT’s final shot bounced off Betsy ARMSTRONG’s chest. Canada took 32 shots to USA’s economical 22.

credit: Russell McKinnon