Women's Water Polo World Cup 2010, Day 4: USA, China, Australia and Russia into semifinals

Water Polo World Cup

World champion United States of America will play China while World Cup champion Australia will face off with Russia in the semifinals of the FINA  Women's Water Polo World Cup at Christchurch’s QE II Park Pool tomorrow. The USA beat Hungary 10-5 after a torrid first half in which it led by only 3-2. A power second half showed just how good this team can play. China earned a tilt at international glory and a highest finish when easily surpassing the host nation, New Zealand, 11-3. The Juan Jane-coached team has proved it is capable of making the final with an unbeaten run this week.

Reigning World Cup champion Australia finally got past Greece 11-7 after being pressured for all of the match. Greece played its best game of the week but the Australians, who missed two penalties and hit the wood seven times in the first half, looked the better team on the night. European champion Russia made the second-half running against Canada to win 12-11. Canada shot poorly in the middle part of the game but then Russia also, by coach Alexandr Kabanov’s admission, did not play to its best either.

Russia outlasted Canada in a game that didn’t reach high levels. Too many mistakes marred what could have been a good game. Both teams lamented that fatigue and mistakes set in. It was Russia won started the stronger, scoring twice as Canada settled and returned to the game. At 3-1, Russia was handsomely placed by Emily CSIKOS scored twice — once with a slider and the second on penalty. Nadezda GLYZINA scored the second and third Russian goals. Joelle BEKHAZI drew Canada level at four with a six-metre shot and Monika EGGENS sent one in from two metres further back for 5-4 at the break. Evgeniya IVANOVA went on the rampage in the third period, scoring three goals but Tara CAMPBELL and Rosanna TOMIUK made sure the game was level at halftime. TOMIUK scored three minutes from the break, showing the tight defence. The third period was even with last year’s world junior championship MVP Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA scoring twice for Russia. EGGENS and Katrina MONTON equalised for Canada with MONTON winning a front-of-goal melee 41 seconds from time. IVANOVA made it No 4 for her with a well-placed shot from deep right, whizzing past the left ear of Rachel RIDDELL. Russia used a timeout to set up Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA to score on extra. CSIKOS grabbed a third on extra but the damage was done when SOBOLEVA converted extra from deep at 1:46. Canada called timeout at 0:39, played the ball in, shot and captain Krystina ALOGBO drew the penalty on the rebound, which CSIKOS converted at 0:34. Russia played for time but lost the ball, leaving Canada with nine seconds and just one goal down. The ball moved forward but EGGENS’ shot on the hooter went a few centimeters too high and wide to the right, sending Russia to the top four and Canada to the bottom four. Canada paid for some ineffective shooting in the middle part of the game.

Quarters: 5-4, 2-3, 2-2, 2-3
CANADA: Rachel RIDDELL, Krystina ALOGBO (C), Katrina MONTON (1), Emily CSIKOS (4), Joelle BEKHAZI (2). Whitney GENOWAY, Rosanna TOMIUK (1), Dominique PERRAULT, Monika EGGENS (2), Christine ROBINSON, Tara CAMPBELL (1), Marina RADU, Marissa JANSSENS. Head Coach: Pat OATEN.

RUSSIA: Evgeniya PROTSENKO, Nadezda GLYZINA (2), Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (2), Sofya KONUKH (C), Evgeniya PUSTYINNIKOVA, Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA (2), Ekaterina TANKEEVA, Evgenia SOBOLEVA (1), Anna TIMOFEEVA, Olga BELYAEVA (1), Evgeniya IVANOVA (4), Yulia GAUFLER, Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA. Head Coach: Alexandr KABANOV.


Pat OATEN (CAN) — Head Coach

“We had clear opportunities to win, especially when Krystina (ALOGBO) missed that chance near the end. They went to the far end and scored, making it a two-goal turn-around when we should have been a goal up. They were one goal better today. Starting from today we will see a lot of fatigue setting in. I think we had three hard games while the other group had only two. That plays a large role. That wasn’t a high-level game. Now we have to go through the rest of the tournament, because the prize is gone. However, we are building towards the World Championships (next year).”

Alexandr KABANOV (RUS) — Head Coach

“The result was the best thing today — that we won. Unfortunately, both teams made many mistakes and we let them score some easy goals. They scored too many at the beginning. If not it would have been completely different. We were nervous at the end. It is always like this in this kind of game.”

Sofya KONUKH (RUS) — Captain

“Before the game we knew it was going to be battle — a war. The Canadians are physical, the North American style.” On the semifinals, she said: “Our coach teaches us that tomorrow is tomorrow. We will now rest and tomorrow we will create as much as possible.”

World champion USA moved into the semifinals with a 7-3 second half against Hungary. The game was mired in defence and blocked shots in the first half as Hungary held on. In fact the USA scored six of its goals in the last 10 minutes of the game. Margaret STEFFENS and Elsie WINDES scored from the deep right in the first quarter while Hungary drew level through Rita KESZTHELYI with an outside rocket and Agnes VALKAI from the top left. Kami CRAIG scored from the post position on extra three minutes from halftime to turn with just five goals on the scoreboard. WINDES, relatively quiet at this tournament, made it a two-goal margin for the USA but Gabriella SZUCS and newcomer Kata MENCZINGER levelled the game again at the three-minute mark. The game was evenly poised with neither side letting up but the dam burst soon after as the USA crashed home three goals in just over a minute, thanks to Anne BELDEN, CRAIG and Juliet MOSS: BELDEN contributed again after the restart and suddenly the game was 8-4. Orsolya TAKACZ grabbed one back and Lauren SILVER scored on extra for 9-5. VALKAI missed a penalty shot attempt at 2:48 and on the counter, SILVER claimed a second and the game was effectively over.

Quarters: 0-2, 2-1, 2-4, 1-3
HUNGARY: Orsolya KASO, Hanna KISTELEKI, Rita POSZKOLI, Dora ANTAL, Gabriella SZUCS (1), Orsolya TAKACS (1), Rita DRAVUCZ (C), Rita KESZTHELYI (1), Ildiko TOTH, Barbara BUJKA, Agnes VALKAI (1), Kiata MENCZINGER (1), Aniko GYONGYOSSY. Head Coach: Matyas PETROVICS.

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


Adam KRIKORIAN (USA) — Head Coach

“That’s probably our best defensive effort of the summer, I’m really proud of the team, I think we have been very good defensively since we’ve gotten here and it’s going to be important for us to continue that to keep the momentum going in our favour."

“We traded goals with them early and I would have just loved to have hung onto that lead, we had a couple of defensive breakdowns in the second quarter that led to their goals but Betsey also came up with some big saves in the second quarter that kept us with the one goal lead. I thought that things could have easily swung in their favour but those saves certainly kept the momentum on our side."

“I think anyone of our players I have a lot of confidence in, anyone of our players can beat you on any given day. It helps that the centres draw a lot of attention and Kami and Annika did a great job today drawing a lot of attention so it’s going to free up our shooters on the outside and they have to be confident when they get their opportunity. We missed some opportunities early on where we could have broken the lead a little bit further but we stayed very discipline and very persistent and that’s probably one of the things I’m most proud of.”

Matyas PETROVICS (HUN) — Head Coach

“The first two periods were amazing. I’m very proud of the team. They played over their heads. I was a little bit worried in the second period as we left two extra-man chances open for the USA. In the third period the Americans were stronger and he changed his players but I could only change two. The team was tired." 

Australia and Greece traditionally play tight matches and this was no exception but Australia came through for victory. The first half was a torrid match with Greece struggling to convert extra-man chances while Australia blew two penalty chances in the first quarter and then hit the posts five times in the second. Angeliki GEROLYMOU converted the opening penalty barely 40 seconds into the game. Nearly four minutes late Nicola ZAGAME equalised on extra. Ilektra PSOUNI sent in a shot from the Southern Alps 50km away. Aussie Stingers skipper Bronwen KNOX hit the post with her penalty attempt. Gemma BEADSWORTH finished a counter with a big shot from the top. Mel RIPPON drew a penalty but Rowena WEBSTER threw low into Maria TSOURI’S left hand. GEROLYMOU came down from the mountain a bit but not much to score for 3-2 three minutes into the second period. Ash SOUTHERN finished off a strong attack from the five-metre line for 3-3. KNOX then turned the hole position, waited for TSOURI to fall and popped the ball into goal at 1:02 and 4-3 for the halftime lead. ZAGAME opened the third period quickly, pouncing on the rebound of WEBSTER’S superb turn and shot from two metres. Greece went to a timeout but Australia stole the ball soon after. However, TSOUKALA sent one in from the top only to have BEADSWORTH respond on counter off a cross-pass from captain KNOX. Antigoni ROUMPESI lobbed from 6m to pull it back to one again. Glencora RALPH did the same from 6m for 7-5 and after a timeout and two shots, RALPH converted the extra-man attack for 8-5 at 1:29, the three-quarter-time score. Alexandra ASIMAKI scored from two metres for 8-6, WEBSTER drilled a low shot from 8m: Kyriaki LIOSI lobbed on extra and BEADSWORTH lobbed from six metres for 10-7 at 4:30. Greece called a timeout at 3:23 to settle the team but less than a minute later Webster sealed the game with a blast from 8m.

Quarters: 2-2, 1-2, 2-4, 2-3
GREECE: Maria TSOURI, Christina TSOUKALA (1), Konstantina KOUTELI, Ilektra PSOUNI (1), Kyriaki LIOSI (C 1), Alkisti AVRAMIDOU, Alexandra ASIMAKI (1), Antigoni ROUMPESI (1), Angeliki GEROLYMOU (2), Triantafylia MANOLIOUDAKI, Stavroula ANTONAKOU, ANTONIA SOLANAKI, Eleni KOUVDOU. Head Coach: Georgios MORFESIS.

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

credit: Russell McKinnon


Greg McFADDEN (AUS) — Head Coach

“The Greeks played a very controlled game with good centre forwards and outside shooters. If you don’t put your shots away it doesn’t help. In the first quarter we hit the goalie too much, missed two penalty shots and threw the cover off the ball in the second quarter. All credit to the Greeks, they’re fighters. I’m never comfortable against them unless we are four or five goals ahead. If we had scored our penalties early it could have been a different game.”

Georgios MORFESIS (GRE) — Head Coach

“Today we fight well. This is the level that we can play. Australia is maybe the best team at this moment here. We knew we had bad results in the three previous days. We knew we had to play Australia or the USA. This group is the strong and the three medallists will come from it, much like San Diego (FINA World League Super Finals). We had little chance but we had a chance. We don’t have many solutions for Australia.”

China did not make the same mistake it did at the FINA World League Super Finals in San Diego, California last month — win the group stage and lose the quarterfinal. China had the team to easily beat New Zealand and started strongly, keeping the host nation scoreless in the first half. The Kiwis fought valiantly and stymied many Chinese attacks but struggled at the other end against a defensive line much like the famed Great Wall of China. WANG Yi opened the scoring from the top and MA Huanhuan and SUN Yating followed suit but the third goal took until seven seconds from the end of the quarter to hit the scoreboard. GAO Ao scored twice from six metres with the second on extra-man attack for 5-0. WANG scored a second in extra, after action goals were hard to come by. Lauren SIEPRATH lifted the crowd with a missile from nine metres halfway through the third quarter — the first goal of the second half. SUN Yating scored on extra  at the six-minute mark of the period and TENG Fei scored on action seven seconds from time. Lynlee SMITH opened the fourth quarter for New Zealand with an extra-man conversion. New Zealand called a timeout at 5:09 but could not convert the extra-man opportunity. On the next attack GAO screamed one in from outside for 9-2. New Zealand narrowed the gap slightly at 2:52 when it gained a power play, saw the shot bounce off the cross bar, move around to Kirsten HUDSON, who bounced it in as the ejected player was returning to the pool. China took a timeout at 1:19 and scored after the exclusion period to GAO for her fourth. She scored a fifth, also on extra in the last six seconds. It was a game of extra-man chances coming off and few action goals, such was the defence.

Quarters: 3-0, 3-0, 2-1, 3-2
CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei (1), LIU Ping, SUN Yujun, HE Jin, SUN Yating (2), SONG Donglun, GAO Ao (5), WANG Yi (2), MA Huanhuan (1), SUN Huizi (C), ZHANG Lei, CHEN Yuan. Head Coach: Juan JANE GIRALT.

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

credit: Russell McKinnon


Eelco URI (NZL) — Head Coach

“I was pleased with the (lower-than-expected) number of goals against us. They had to score man-up goals. With the way they have been shooting and their centre-forward play, they only got away from us in the fourth quarter, We have been struggling with the third quarter but not tonight. I was not pleased with our man-up attack. We weren’t where the gaps were. We weren’t taking risks and you need to take risks at this level. Tonight we didn’t deliver on that. Tonight our goalie (Carina HARACHE) played brilliantly. We also played a more mobile defence, which helped.”