Super Final 2010 (Women): USA in penalty-shootout win over Australia for fifth FINA World League crown

World League

The United States of America claimed a record-extending fifth women’s water polo FINA World League Super Finals crown at La Jolla, California today. It came at the expense of Australia, who suffered a second penalty-shootout defeat at the hand of the North Americans in four days. Last Tuesday it was a 15-14 loss but this evening it was a 12-11 affair in a tournament where eight of the 24 matches went to the penalty stripe.

Australia trailed 4-2 at halftime and 5-4 at the final break, drawing level at the top of the fourth and even leading 7-6 with two minutes remaining. As on Tuesday, Australia conceded a late goal to go to extra time.

In the 10-shot shootout, which saw a tournament-high nine goals, the seventh Australian shooter, Jemma Dessauvagie, had her shot tipped out by USA goalkeeping MVP, Betsy Armstrong. The USA was ably led by the veteran Brenda Villa, already a three-time world champion and now a five-time World League champion.

Her aim now is to strip Australia of the FINA World Cup crown in Christchurch, New Zealand next month. Villa, the FINA women’s water polo athlete of the last decade, was understandably named tournament MVP, while team-mate Armstrong was the best goalkeeper. A further team-mate, Kameryn Craig, was named the top centre forward. The bronze medal went to Greece with its third visit to the penalty shootout zone this week. Greece and Russia were tied 5-5 at fulltime and the shooting went past the first rotation. Greece scored first but Russia missed. China claimed fifth spot with an early domination of Hungary for much of the game until the final period when Hungary chanced its arm and came back to 8-7. In the play-off for seventh, Olympic champion Netherlands beat 2009 FINA World Championship silver medallist Canada 8-6 after leading 3-0 at quarter time and having to fend off the Canadians when at 7-6 late in the game.


MVP: Brenda Villa (USA)

Leading scorer: Dora Kisteleki (GRE) 15
Tournament All Star Team:
Goalkeeper: Betsy Armstrong (USA)
Centre Forward: Kameryn Craig (USA)
Field players:
Brenda Villa (USA)
Iefke Van Belkum (NED)
Gabriella Szucs (HUN)
Sofya Konukh (RUS)
Bronwen Knox (AUS)
Gemma Beadsworth (AUS)

Match 21. 12:00. CANADA 6 NETHERLANDS 8
Classification 7th & 8th

Quarters: 0-3, 2-1, 3-3, 1-1
CANADA:  Rachel RIDDELL, Krystina ALOGBO (1), Katrina MONTON (1), Emily CSIKOS (2), Joelle BEKHAZI (1), Whitney GENOWAY, Rosanna TOMIUK, Dominique PERRAULT (1), Monika EGGENS, Christine ROBINSON, Tara CAMPBELL, Marina RADU, Marissa JANSSENS. Head Coach: Pat OATEN.
NETHERLANDS: Ilsa VAN DER MEIJDEN, Yasemin SMIT (1), Mieke CABOUT (3), Biurakin HAKHVERDIAN, Sabrina VAN DER SLOOT, Nomi STOMPHORST, Iefke VAN BELKUM (2), Noeki KLEIN, Jantien CABOUT, Nienke VERMEER (1), Lieke KLAASSEN (1), Marloes NIJHUIS, Anne HEINES. Head Coach: Mauro MAUGERI.

Of all the games during the week this was the least exciting, despite the fact that the Olympic champion was playing the FINA World Champion ships silver medallist of last year. Neither team has maintained consistency all week and the difficulty of playing for seventh showed. The Dutch came out fast and had Canada on the ropes early, which made it hard for Canada to draw back. An Emily CSIKOS penalty set the ball rolling for Canada and a timeout ploy saw CSIKOS score again for 3-2 on extra. Canada looked sharper but it was the Dutch who took the initiative with another goal before the long break and three more after the turn. At 7-2 the game had lost any spectacle rights, it seemed but Pat OATEN’s women are fighters and they proved their class with four straight goals of their own. Left-hander PERRAULT set the ball rolling with an eight-metre shot and ALOGBO’s counter-attack goal helped surge the team on with the next goal a backhander at centre forward by Katrina MONTON and Joelle BEKHAZI’s low-court goal on extra. There were still three and a half minutes remaining and at 7-6 it was game on. The next attack yielded a goal to Mieke CABOUT from the four-metre zone for 8-6 but there was still three minutes remaining. Canada used a timeout to set an extra-man shot but the blast was blocked and the Dutch wasted time on both opportunities and denied Canada a way through the defence. It was a low-fouling affair and both teams had two from five on extra-man attack.

credit: Russell McKinnon

Match 22. 13:30. HUNGARY 6 CHINA 8
Classification 5th & 6th

Quarters: 0-1, 3-2, 3-4, 1-1
HUNGARY: Orsolya KASO, Hanna KISTELEKI, Rita POSZKOLI, Dora KISTELEKI (2), Gabriella SZUCS (1), Orsolya TAKACS, Rita DRAVUCZ (2), Rita KESZTHELYI (1), Ildiko TOTH (1), Barbara BUJKA, Agnes VALKAI, Patricia JANCSO, Aniko GYONGYOSSY. Head Coach: Matyas PETROVICS.
CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei (1), LIU Ping (2), SUN Yujun, HE Jin, SUN Yating (1), ZHANG Lei, GAO Ao (2), WANG Yi (1), MA Huanhuan (1), SONG Donglun, CHEN Yuan, ZHU Yating. Head Coach: Juan JANE.

China emerged as the fifth best team in the world this year, dominating Hungary throughout. Only once did the Hungarians draw level and that was at 3-3 just before halftime. The third quarter was a frenzy of activity with China shooting out to 5-3and then 7-4 before Rita KESZTHELYI and Dora KISTELEKI scored in the final minutes for 7-6. With the game having lifted a notch, China wanted the win badly and score on its first attack for 8-6 when MA Huanhuan received a cross pass on two metres. Hungary took a timeout and China two to slow the pace and search for the vital goal. Ildiko TOTH swatted in a rebound on the line  at 0:26 but China retained the ball until the final buzzer for an 8-7 win. Hungary’s downfall was its inability to convert any extra-man chances while China sent in four.

credit: Russell McKinnon

Match 23. 15:00.  RUSSIA 7 GREECE 8 in penalty shootout (FT: 5-5. Pens: 2-3)
Classification 3rd & 4th

Quarters: 1-2, 1-0, 1-1, 2-2. Pens: 2-3
RUSSIA: Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA, Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (2), Sofya KONUKH (3), Alexandra ANTONOVA, Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA, Ekaterina TANKEEVA, Evgenia SOBOLEVA, Olexandra KARPOVICH, Olga BELYAEVA, Evgeniya IVANOVA (1), Yulia GAUFLER (1), Evgeniya PUSTYINNIKOVA, Anna TIMOFEEVA. Head Coach: Alexandr KABANOV.
GREECE:  Maria TSOURI, Christina TSOUKALA, Konstantina KOUTELI, Ilektra PSOUNI, Kyriaki LIOSI (1), Alkisti AVRAMIDOU, Alexandra ASIMAKI (2), Antigoni ROUMPESI (1), Angeliki GEROLYMOU, Triantafyllia MANOLIOUDAKI (1), Stavroula ANTONAKOU (2), Vasileia MAVRELOU (1), Eleni KOUVDOU. Head Coach: Georgios MORFESIS.

Greece made the early play with captain Antigoni ROUMPESI and centre forward Alexandra ASIMAKI scoring while Sofya KONUKH split the Greek goals. The second period slowed pace as bioth teams tried to gain the upper hand. Yulia GAUFLER scored on counter midway through the period for 2-2 — the only goal. Greece lost one of its stars in Angeliki GEROLYMOU after she appeared to backchat the referee in the last minute before halftime. ASIMAKI netted her second on extra at 3:33 as defence was the name of the game. Contra fouls ruled as two teams without a name centre forward struggled to get goals. The youthful Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA accepted a cross pass on the post to level on extra at 0:42. The fourth period started with a double exclusion and KONUKH stood up with an excellent turn from centre forward only to have it stopped by Maria TSOURI.  Greek captain Kyriaki LIOSI gave her team a 4-3 lead with a five-metre shot from top left. A big chance came just 17 seconds later when PROKOFYEVA was excluded and Greece called a timeout. The ball worked around and the ball was passed into the near post to ASIMAKI who shot into Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA’s chest, rebounding out for Triantafyllia MANOLIOUDAKI to poke into goal for 5-3. PROKOFYEVA made amends with a rocket shot straight after for 5-4 at 5:41. ASIMAKI had the best chance to score in the next few minutes but her shot found the goalkeeper. KONUKH drew Russia level at 0:42 on extra when she scored from the top and seconds before deciding not to chance her arm. Greece went to a timeout hoping not to repeat the match earlier in the week when the game finished 13-13 and Greece won the shootout.  Greece lost the ball, Russia regained but Greece immediately stole it back to close out regular time with a 5-5 draw. It was a horror shootout for Russia, missing the first three but Greece did not fare much better with just the first of the three. KONOUKH and IVANOVA scored for Russia while MAVRELOU did and ROUMPESI didn’t. That was the end of the rotation and it was to start over. ANTONAKOU grabbed the 8-7 lead and PROKOFYEVA, so strong all week, had the last stopped by TSOURI, who blocked nine penalty shots during the week, made a little easier by the fact that Greece found itself in three shootouts.

credit: Russell McKinnon

Match 24. 16:30. AUSTRALIA 11 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 12 in extra time (FT: 7-7. Pens: 4-5)
Classification 1st & 2nd

Quarters: 1-2, 1-2, 2-1, 3-2. Pens: 4-5
AUSTRALIA: Victoria BROWN, Gemma BEADSWORTH (2), Sophie SMITH (1), Alicia BRIGHTWELL (1), Jane MORAN, Bronwen KNOX (4), Rowena WEBSTER (1), Glencora RALPH (2), Jemma DESSAUVAGIE, Zoe ARANCINI, Melissa RIPPON, Nicola ZAGAME, Kelsey WAKEFIELD.  Head Coach: Greg McFADDEN.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elizabeth ARMSTRONG, Heather PETRI (1), Brenda VILLA, Lauren WENGER (1), Tanya GANDY (1), Margaret STEFFENS (1), Lauren SILVER (3), Elsie WINDES (1), Kelly RULON (2), Annika DRIES, Kameryn CRAIG (1), Melissa SEIDEMANN (1), Courtney MATHEWSON. Head Coach: Adam KRIKORIAN.

The USA won its fifth FINA World League crown with a stirring penalty-shootout victory over Australia, repeating the 2007 result in Montreal, Canada. The USA controlled the first two quarters as Australia had plenty of chances but failed to convert any of five extra-man chances. Kameryn CRAIG scored on extra and Lauren SILVER from outside had the USA ahead as BEADSWORTH scored a lone lob for the Aussie Stingers. Kelly RULON opened the second quarter with a penalty conversion for 3-1 only for Australian captain Bronwen KNOX to plant one in from six metres. Elsie WINDES nailed one from seven metres for 4-2 at halftime. KNOX scored her second on counter-attack after a close-in pass on her hip. SILVER, ironically the Australian National Water Polo League scoring record holder after a huge haul this year with Balmain Tigers in Sydney, converted extra-man for 5-3. Glencora RALPH, one of the leading scorers, had her shot deflected into goal at 0:30 for 5-4. Australia brought the game on even terms with KNOX scoring her third just after extra-man time at the top of the fourth. Veteran Heather PETRI, looking for more gold, sent the USA ahead, also after the 20-second exclusion period. When KNOX gained her second major foul, USA head coach Adam KRIKORIAN screamed for a timeout at 5:55. The ruse didn’t work and Australia went to the far end, gained extra and RALPH scored her second of the game and 13th for the tournament when on extra for 6-6 at 5:13. With the clock ticking down, Sophie SMITH rocketed in a shot from eight metres for 2:01 and the lead for the first time in the game. Lauren WENGER sent in a “bunny” or “doughnut” shot over VIctoria BROWN’s head at 1:43 for 7-7 and the packed crowd lifted. When the final minute arrived, SILVER fired from the top but a defender deflected it out. Australia called timeout with 0:54 left. The ball found its way to BEADSWORTH, who was jerked back but the centre forward waited for the call, which did not come and USA recovered the ball, leading to a timeout at 0:29. Australia stole the ball with nine seconds left and raced up the pitch with Rowena WEBSTER having a power shot which Betsy ARMSTRONG easily blocked, sending the game into a penalty shootout.  Australia started first and both teams converted their first three goals. Then Jemma DESSAUVAGIE had her shot deflected by ARMSTRONG. SILVER and Alicia BRIGHTWELL converted, leaving just Maggie STEFFENS to score for gold, which she did, for USA’s fifth FINA World League crown from six finals in seven years.