Women's Water Polo World Cup 2010, Day 2: Australia two goals better than World champion USA

Water Polo World Cup

This tournament was always going to be about Australia-United States of America. Arguably the two best teams in the world at the moment, clashed on day two in Group B of the 15th FINA World Cup for women’s water polo at Christchurch’s QE II Park pool. As in Sydney last week at the 10th Anniversary Tournament to celebrate a decade of women’s Olympic water polo, Australia finished on top, giving it three successive victories in a week against the World and World League champion.

The first quarter was locked at 1-1 but the Aussie Stingers went 4-1 ahead by halftime, kept a 5-4 advantage at three-quarter time and sealed the match with a penalty goal inside the last two minutes for 7-5 and bragging rights heading towards the quarter-finals. Australia now needs to pass Russia tomorrow to win the group.

Games are not as tight as the Super Finals in California last month but New Zealand tried its hardest to pressure Russia in their Group B game before losing 13-9 in a spirited game.

In Group A, China went two straight with an 11-8 victory over Hungary (two losses) and Canada crushed Greece 11-3. For Greece the ignominious defeat means it will need to ameliorate its performance if its hopes to progress to the medal round. China and Canada play for group supremacy tomorrow.

China probably has the better credentials and this came to pass in the first half but especially in the opening quarter with a 4-1 effort. Hungary managed to shut down the Chinese counter-attacks but a variety of goals showed China’s expertise. Hungary’s lone effort was from a sweep-smack from Agnes VALKAI at the two-metre line, dribbling under the arm of YANG Jun into goal. VALKAI struck twice more in the second quarter from beyond the six-metre line. With TENG Fei bouncing one in across cage in between VALKAI’S shots, China led 5-3 but Kata MENCZINGER narrowed it to 5-4 on extra. SUN Yujun was lucky with a low lob to take it out to 6-4 but two seconds from halftime Hungarian captain Rita DRAVUCZ drove, received the cross pass and scored for 6-5. China won the third period with MA Huanhuan netting 30 seconds from time with a lob. Two swift goals by SUN Yating and SUN Yujun, her third, stretched the margin to 10-6 and Hungary was reeling. Rita DRAVUCZ and Barbara BUJKE from centre forward pulled it back to 10-8 at 2:00 but MA had the last say with a lob to close what was a low-fouling game.

Quarters: 1-4, 4-2, 1-2. 2-3
HUNGARY: Orsolya KASO, Hanna KISTELEKI, Rita POSZKOLI, Dora ANTAL, Gabriella SZUCS, Orsolya TAKACS, Rita DRAVUCZ (C 2), Rita KESZTHELYI, Ildiko TOTH, Barbara BUJKA (2), Agnes VALKAI (3), Kiata MENCZINGER (1), Aniko GYONGYOSSY, Mercedes STIEBER. Head Coach: Matyas PETROVICS.

CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei (3), LIU Ping, SUN Yujun (3), HE Jin, SUN Yating (1), SONG Donglun, GAO Ao (1), WANG Yi (1), MA Huanhuan (2), SUN Huizi (C), ZHANG Lei, CHEN Yuan. Head Coach: Juan JANE GIRALT.

credit: Russell McKinnon


Juan JANE GIRALT (CHN) — Head Coach

"It is the same as yesterday. Face to face we play the world’s strongest teams. Hungary is very strong but in the end it was China. It is very important ot play two strong games and have two wins. It is never easy. It is difficult. To win by two goals I am very happy.  I had the feeling that it was correct, offence, defence, long shooting. Shanghai next year we may be right but probably London. It is not a three-year thing."

Matyas PETROVICS (HUN) — Head Coach

“We had some good defence but six times we missed major chances. We also missed the most important goal on extra after the timeout. Now we have Greece and need to win that match but the important games are Friday and the weekend.”

The two best teams in the world faced off again after two successes to Australia the previous week in Australia. The USA boasts World and World League crowns while Australia is defending its title after winning in Tianjin, China in 2006. Nicola ZAGAME pulled on a high pass to score from two metres to open the game. This was equalled by Lauren SILVER with a long lob to finish 1-1 at the break. It was all Australia in the second quarter after what was an excellent start in the first where Australia stymied many of the USA’s attacks. Australia found the back of the net through Sophie SMITH on extra (two major fould before halftime), captain Bronwen KNOX with a length-of-the-pool counter-attack and lob of Betsy ARMSTRONG and a buzzer-beater on extra to Gemma BEADSWORTH. The buzzer went before the ball crossed the line but had left the hand in time. With a 4-1 lead, it was not normal as the USA traditionally has the lead at this point. To the USA’s credit, Victoria BROWN was impassable and many USA’s shots hit the posts. The reverse happened in the third quarter when USA bounced as Australia relaxed Anne BELDEN scored and then Kelly RULON countered for na easy goal. Lauren SILVER had her penalty shot blocked by Victoria BROWN. Belden struck again with a repeat of Rulon’s counter for 4-4. Australian captain Bronwen KNOX scored a slider from six metres late in the period to maintain the lead. The USA took a timeout at the top of the fourth but could not score. Then the goal of the tournament so far was scored by centre forward BEADSWORTH while three players were on top of her at two metres. RULON scored from the penalty line at 3:28 for 6-5 and USA was well into the game. However, ZAGAME drew a penalty and KNOX converted at 1:47 for 7-5 and the game looked over. USA then laid siege to Australia’s cage. Firstly BROWN saved with her head a point-blank shot, then tipped a shot over with her left-hand fingertips at 0:12. BELDEN had the final throw and that went wide to give the Australians a rare two-goal over the USA in a Major.

Quarters: 1-1, 0-3, 3-1, 1-2
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elizabeth ARMSTRONG (C), Anne BELDEN (2), Brenda VILLA, Margaret STEFFENS, Juliet MOSS, Courtney MATHEWSON, Lauren SILVER (1), Elsie WINDES, Kelly RULON (2), Annika DRIES, Kameryn CRAIG, Melissa SEIDEMANN, Emily FEHER. Head Coach: Adam KRIKORIAN.

AUSTRALIA: Victoria BROWN, Gemma BEADSWORTH (2), Sophie SMITH (1), Holly LINCOLN-SMITH, Jane MORAN, Bronwen KNOX (C 3), Rowena WEBSTER, Glencora RALPH, Zoe ARANCINI, Ashleigh SOUTHERN, Melissa RIPPON, Nicola ZAGAME (1), Lea BARTA. Head Coach: Greg McFADDEN.

credit: Russell McKinnon


Adam KRIKORIAN (USA) — Head Coach

"I think in the beginning of the game we seemed a little hurried offensively obviously we struggled to put away some opportunities as well in the first two quarters and that really hurt us, but we did a nice job battling back and actually I thought we had plenty of opportunities, we missed a penalty, we missed at least one or two more one on no ones and we went 1/7 on power plays. So we are disappointed with the loss but at the same time I thought we played ok. The most important thing for us is to learn from it and move on. You don’t have any time in this tournament to sulk you just have to get ready for your next opponent."

"She (Armstrong) played great and I thought defensively we were good like yesterday, and we talked about this going into the rest of the week, that is definitely a positive, that’s two good defensive efforts in a row and now we just need to continue that momentum the rest of the way."

"I think it’s always going to be a little bit more physical with Australia because they are so physical around the perimeter and at two meters and I think that is just the style of game. If we happen to see them again I think the level of executive and energy will probably be greater."

Greece didn’t appear to be ready for the onslaught of a rampant Canada, hell bent on improving on previous performances after being ranked second in the world last year. For Canada it was a second straight victory. Monika EGGENS had two goals on the board and Joelle BEKHAZI one before Greece responded through Alexandra ASIMAKI. Marina RADU and BEKHAZI scored to make it an incredible 5-1 against the team that won the bronze medal in La Jolla, California last month. This was Canada at its best, like it was last year in pushing USA all the way to the world title. The procession continued in the second quarter but at a slower pace, much like a funeral. EGGENS and BEKHAZI made it 7-1 by halftime. Emily CSIKOS scored a penalty drawn by captain Krystina ALOGBO at 1:39 of the third after dire defence by both teams. Angeliki GEROLYMOU broke the drought of more than two quarters with a rare Greek goal. EGGENS closed the period with her fourth period and opened the fourth with her fifth goal, glancing the ball off the post for 10-2. BEKHAZI nailed her fourth off a cross pass before ASIMAKI gained her second on extra at 1:59. It was not Greece’s day and the team left the pool deck quickly.

Quarters: 1-5, 0-2, 1-2, 1-2
GREECE: Maria TSOURI, Christina TSOUKALA, Konstantina KOUTELI, Ilektra PSOUNI, Kyriaki LIOSI (C), Alkisti AVRAMIDOU, Alexandra ASIMAKI (2), Antigoni ROUMPESI, Angeliki GEROLYMOU (1), Triantafylia MANOLIOUDAKI, Stavroula ANTONAKOU, ANTONIA SOLANAKI, Eleni KOUVDOU. Head Coach: Georgios MORFESIS.

CANADA: Rachel RIDDELL, Krystina ALOGBO (C), Katrina MONTON, Emily CSIKOS (1), Joelle BEKHAZI (4). Whitney GENOWAY, Rosanna TOMIUK, Dominique PERRAULT, Monika EGGENS (5), Christine ROBINSON, Tara CAMPBELL, Marina RADU (1), Marissa JANSSENS. Head Coach: Pat OATEN.

credit: Russell McKinnon


Pat OATEN (CAN) — Head Coach

“We came out on offence with spark. We have good shooters from outside but people talk about our hole players, who are also good. They stuck to the game plan and Rachel (Riddell in goal) was a standout. Confidence comes form being 5-1 up in the first quarter.”

Monika EGGENS (CAN) — Five-goal hero

“We played really well as a team. We kept working really hard and kept up the intensity. We had good teamwork. We came into the tournament to do well and hopefully we will continue to do so.”

New Zealand
had a huge following and did not disappoint with an excellent game and start to the match. But it was Russia who had two goals up by the quarter break. Anna TIMOFEEVA scored from centre forward and Yulia GAUFLER slotted one off a cross-pass. Lauren SIEPRATH boosted local hopes with a seven-metre shot that had her smiling widely one minute into the second quarter. Goals were traded as New Zealand settled into the game and Russia could not outscore the Kiwis. Kirsten HUDSON lobbed to take New Zealand to 4-3 behind, making a real game of it. Ekaterina TANKEEVA and Evgenia SOBOLEVA rained on the parade with goals to close the half, the second after a rebound right on the buzzer.  GAUFLER made it 7-3 at the top of the third period so New Zealand coach Eelco URI, the former Dutch Olympian, called timeout. There was no immediate goal but Lynlee SMITH and Lauren SIEPRATH both scored on subsequent attacks for 7-5, the latter on extra. Russia sent in two goals in the final minute, the second a brilliant counter-attack goal by Evgeniya IVANOVA. HUDSON produced a missile early in the final quarter for 9-6. TIMOFEEVA sparkled with a heavily defended goal from two metres but Kiwi captain Anna SIEPRATH responded with a snap-in rebound for 10-7 at 5:06. New Zealand was well and truly in the game. Evgeniya PUSTYINNIKOVA came up with a long shot that hit the right post and hit the back of HARACHE’s head into the goal for 11-7. Russian triple Olympian Sofya KONUKH slotted one from the top to give excellent breathing space. A timeout inside the final quarter by Russia on extra sent SOBOLEVA to her third goal and a six-goal margin that flattered the Russians and was probably unkind to New Zealand after a fine effort. New Zealand called timeout and SMITH lobbed Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA for 13-8. Danielle LEWIS lifted the crowd with a counter-attack goal at 0:31 for 13-9. The swing was moving New Zealand’s way and URI called his second timeout at 0:20, but not on extra. No goal came and the crowd went home happy after a fantastic game of water polo.

Quarters: 0-2, 3-4, 2-3, 4-4
NEW ZEALAND:  Carina HARACHE, Emily COX (1), Emma STONEMAN, Danielle LEWIS (1), Alexandra BOYD, Lynlee SMITH (2), Isabella MORRISON, Lauren SIEPRATH (2), Anna SIEPRATH (C), Casie BOWRY (1), Kirsten HUDSON (2), Shann ELLS-TEWHIU, Dana HARVEY. Head Coach: Eelco URI.

RUSSIA: Evgeniya PROTSENKO, Nadezda GLYZINA, Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (1), Sofya KONUKH (C 1), Evgeniya PUSTYINNIKOVA (1), Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA (1), Ekaterina TANKEEVA (1), Evgenia SOBOLEVA (3), Anna TIMOFEEVA (2), Olga BELYAEVA, Evgeniya IVANOVA (2), Yulia GAUFLER (1), Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA. Head Coach: Alexandr KABANOV.

credit: Russell McKinnon


Alexandr KABANOV (RUS) – Head Coach

“I was not happy with the refereeing. There seemed to be rules for them and rules for us. New Zealand was allowed to baulk a free throw before scoring. We did not like playing with these referees.”

Eelco URI (NZL) — Head Coach

“It’s always good to keep the crowd happy. I was pleased with the girls. These are very hard teams to play and the tempo is high. We have to switch on mentally. I have a longer term goaql and this is almost like the start but I like to be competitive with the other top countries. The way we played tonight was great and we need to keep that momentum going. We want to inspire people to follow us.”