Women's Water Polo World Cup 2010, Day 5: Australia to defend FINA World Cup crown against world champion USA

Water Polo World Cup

Australia will defend its FINA Women's Water Polo World Cup crown against the United States of America at the QEII Park Pool in Christchurch tomorrow. Australia survived a late onslaught by Russia, twice having three-goal leads trimmed to one, to win 11-10.

In the other semifinal, the World and World League champion USA beat China 10-8 to set up yet another face-off between the two best teams currently on the planet. The USA won the FINA World League Super Finals gold-medal clash in a penalty-shootout win over the Aussie Stingers in July.

On the obverse side of the coin, Australia has beaten the USA three times in the past fortnight, including a group-winning 7-5 effort earlier in the tournament. Australia had to fight a huge foul count against to make the final while the USA had its own troubles, being 4-3 down against China midway through the second quarter before taking a 6-4 halftime lead to 8-6 at three-quarter time and 10-7 only to see China strike back to within one goal.

In the lower end of the tournament, Canada needed a last-second goal to beat Greece 13-12 to set up a fifth-sixth-place play-off with Hungary, who defeated New Zealand 11-4. In a rare situation four continents were represented in the semifinals with China having its first shot in a medal round at senior level.

After beating Greece 11-3 earlier in the week it took until the last second to separate these two teams. After a lightning start the game settled as they battled for a place in the fifth-sixth play-off. Greece raced to a 4-2 lead but Canada quickly levelled before Christina TSOUKALA gave Greece the edge by the break. Nine goals with lobs, counters, outside shots and a few on extra. The game had it all. The second quarter was sedate in comparison but Canada had the goods with Christine ROBINSON and Joelle BEKHAZI taking the North Americans to the lead. Antigoni ROUMPESI and captain Kyriaki LIOSI regained the advantage at 7-6 by halftime. BEKHAZI scored her third as the tournament’s leading scorer at the moment, to level at 7-7 on the first attack of the third period. But then Alexandra ASIMAKI was given space at two metres, scoring on extra and sweeping in a shot for 9-7. Emily CSIKOS, also one of the highest scorers, converted extra but ASIMAKI closed the period for a 10-8 lead to Greece. Stavroula ANTONAKOU  took the game to 11-8 with a rocket from seven metres into the top right. Canada’s revival set the parochial Canadian supporters alight. Dominique PERRAULT and CSIKOS converted extra-man plays and PERRAULT sent in a second off the right-post position after the extra-man exclusion time had ended. At 11-11, Greece called a timeout on extra but the shot was soft. ROBINSON broke the deadlock from six metres at 1:20. Greece called a timeout on extra at 0:56 and TSOUKALA obliged at 0:38 for 12-12. Canada was not to be deterred and went to a timeout at 0:33, worked the ball and gained the extra-man attack when TSOUKALA was ejected. Captain ALOGBO shot through a strong defence but creased the crossbar, the ball falling to the right only for PERRAULT to push into goal with less than a second on the clock!

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

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

credit: Russell McKinnon


Pat OATEN (CAN) — Head Coach

“Our power play (six on five) has been good all tournament, about 50 per cent or better each game. That game wasn’t particularly technical with fatigue setting in for each time. Our middle players stood up today. So far this summer  we have tried to play as many players as possible. It’s been good but mistakes will happen. It was a fast opening quarter due to the fatigue with both teams scoring, scoring, scoring and then settled down. All credit to the Asimaki kid. She’s like a pitbull and keeps going, going, going. The difference between the 11-3 win earlier in the week until today was we didn’t have a lot of time to recuperate after yesterday’s loss (11-12 to Russia).”

Georgios MORFESIS (GRE) — Head Coach

“It was a tough game today. We were not lucky in the first game but today we fought well. Until the fourth period. However, three times we were called for attacking the player with ball in hand. After 11-8 we didn’t make offence. At 12-12 we knew they would put the centre forward to the side but we didn’t expect this whistle (Tsoukala’s exclusion). We came here to qualify for the World Championships and we have done that. We have another chance at the European Championships in 20 days but we don’t have the solutions in our team for a second major event.”

Once again for New Zealand it was a tough encounter. Hard effort but lack of top international experience proved critical. Hungary started strongly but slowed after scoring three goals Hungary pushed out to 5-0 but at 3:34 in the second Casie BOWRY scored from two metres to lift the crowd. A Kiwi timeout produced nothing but Hungary could not add to its total. Gabriella SZUCS, Barbara BUJKA and Rita KESZTHELYI added to their individual scoring feats of the first half and then Kiata MENCZINGER sent one in to close the third period. At 6-1, Kirsten HUDSON scored on extra for New Zealand but the break score was 9-2. Dora ANTAL brought up double figures for Hungary more than two minutes into the final quarter. BOWRY and Alexandra BOYD delighted the home crowd with the first on extra and the second from the top in successive attacks for 10-4. Hannah KISTELEKI made it 11-4 but New Zealand was still trying to score at the other end, working the goalkeeper. Hungary, by now in the 5th-6th play-off, gave water time to the bench players.

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

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

credit: Russell McKinnon


Matyas PETROVICS (HUN) — Head Coach

“We played well today and my goalies were lovely. I’m happy as all played gained a lot of time and my younger players, too. The younger players also scored goals. But most important we qualified for the World Championships. Rita (DRAVUCZ) was sick today but we needed her to play so thanks to her. We played easier than yesterday against Canada but half my eyes are on the European Championships. We have qualified for Shanghai (next year) and I am happy that the preparation for the European tournament starts tomorrow.”

Eelco URI (NZL) — Head Coach

“In waves we showed we can play water polo. Then I told the girls that the last five per cent wasn’t there. The Hungarians make you pay and then put the ball away. At times we impressed and we’re trying to do a lot more of that. We get these  passes on the post, come around but we need to learn and not have to repeat the information later. Six games in six days is tough and fatigue sets in but that’s the reality.”

Australia may have led by three goals several times in the clash with Russia but the European champion pressured all game and nearly snatched extra time with a last-minute barrage of shots. However, Australia survived to defend its crown. Russia opened the scoring with two goals on extra man through Olga BELYAEVA and Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA. Australia was in a shambles on defence. Australia then drew two penalties and Ash SOUTHERN and captain Bronwen KNOX converted for 2-2 by 2:04, the last scoring in the period. Nicola ZAGAME scored with a centre-forward round-arm shot to take the lead for Australia on the first attack of the second quarter. Sofya KONUKH and Evgeniya SOBOLEVA scored on extra to regain the lead at 4-3. Then a three-goal spurt by Australia took the reigning champion to dominance. ZAGAME jumped on a rebound to push it in, Ash SOUTHERN scored with a booming counter-attack shot and Gemma BEADSWORTH powered one in from centre forward. At 6-4 the break had been made but Russia’s RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA scored a second from eight metres for 6-5 to round out the first-half scoring. BEADSWORTH nailed the third penalty shot and Glencora RALPH arrowed in an eight-mter shot for 8-5. , Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA scored on extra, as did Jane MORAN to regain the three-goal margin for the Aussie Stingers. RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA and Ekaterina TANKEEVA both score on extra as Australia struggled with the foul count against and the game was 9-8 at 1:31 to close the third period. ZAGAME scored her third on extra and KNOX converted Australia’s fourth penalty-line gift for 11-8. Russia pressured strongly and gained the extra-man goal through SOBOLEVA at 4:37. Sofya KONUKH was left unattended in a handy position on counter and narrowed the game to 11-10 at 1:46. The tension was palpable and Aussie Stingers head coach Greg McFadden had to be pastorally placated on the foul count. Russia struck several times but the defence was stout. On the last attack the Russian centre forward clearly dragged the ball under, it was turned over and Australia retained for the victory.

Quarters: 2-2, 3-4, 3-3, 2-2
RUSSIA: Evgeniya PROTSENKO, Nadezda GLYZINA, Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (1), Sofya KONUKH (C 2), Evgeniya PUSTYINNIKOVA, Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA (3), Ekaterina TANKEEVA (1), Evgenia SOBOLEVA (2), Anna TIMOFEEVA, Olga BELYAEVA (1), Evgeniya IVANOVA, Yulia GAUFLER, Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA. Head Coach: Alexandr KABANOV.    

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

credit: Russell McKinnon


Greg McFADDEN (AUS) — Head Coach

“Our extra-man defence was excellent to allow in only 8/18 and it needed to be because I couldn’t understand the difference in two teams’ centre forwards. Bronwen Knox and Gemma Beadsworth are two of the best centre forwards in the world and I don’t even know who the Russians are!”

The USA started in excellent fashion with Kelly RULON on extra and Lauren SILVER from the penalty line giving it a 2-0 margin. GAO Ao responded on extra into the bottom right but Courtney MATHEWSON drilled one from six metres for 3-1 at the first break. China then made a huge play by scoring three straight, thanks to two more goals from GAO on extra and TENG Fei with a skip shot on a regrouped counter-attack for 4-3. The USA made sure that feat was equalled through RULON with a six-metre lob, MATHEWSON with a penalty goal and Annika DRIES at centre forward while heavily defended. USA was on top 6-4 at halftime. The third quarter was even but China was making the play. SONG Donglun and Elsie WINDES traded goals before WANG Yi shot from the top and took both posts for the goal and 7-6. Kami CRAIG closed the quarter when she took a pop pass from Brenda VILLA on the far post to score on extra for 8-6 at 0:14. LIU Ping opened the final quarter with a bomb from eight metres to bring the game to one. LIU Ping opened the fourth quarter from eight metres but CRAIG and MATHEWSON made it 10-7 by 2:51. China used two timeouts in the final two minutes, scoring through four-goal hero GAO on the first and earning an extra man on the last for GAO to make it 10-9 with just 20 seconds remaining. By then it was too late and the USA wasted time to go through to the final.

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

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

credit: Russell McKinnon


Juan JANE (CHN) — Head Coach

“It was a very good game for us. I’m not happy we lost, however. Some moments we play well and some moments we didn’t. But I am very, very happy with the progress of the team. After five days four wins and a loss and we lost to the USA by only one goal. China is now on the right track one year out from Shanghai (FINA World Championships) and two years from London (Olympic Games).”

Adam KRIKORIAN (USA) — Head Coach

On playing for gold: “Excited, we are excited to get the opportunity to play Australia who in my opinion is playing like the best team in the world. We’re excited about that and we are thankful to get by such a well coached, well disciplined team like China.”

On USA’s comeback ability: “It’s showing me a lot, it shows me how much they want to compete and how much they want to win this thing and sometimes that’s 90 per cent of the game.”

On USA’s defence against China: “It certainly was, if you don’t count our five-man defence, which wasn’t very good; our half-court defence, our counter-attack defence has been superb. We have to do a little bit better job on our five-man defence and No 8 from China (Gao Ao) was shooting lights out today and you have to give her credit but at the same time we can do a little bit better job there.”

On playing Australia: “I think they have all the talent in the world, they are a scary team, they are big, strong, fast and no offense to my team but I think this is the most talented team in the tournament. We are just looking forward to that challenge.”