Super Final 2011 (Women): USA impressive in 8-5 win over China

World League

USA vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnonTIANJIN, China (June 15) - Reigning champion United States of America looked impressive against world No 3 China on day-two action at the FINA Women’s World League Super Final in Tianjin tonight. Playing in the impressive Tianjin Olympic Centre Swimming & Diving Pool in front of 700 people, USA took a 4-2 halftime lead to 8-3 against a jaded-looking China.

Chinese head coach Juan JANE GIRALT said the tournament was tough “with the best eight teams in the world here”. “To play up approximately with the USA and Australia we need to play normal. The solutions are technical. Perhaps I am not selling my ideas very well. We are not creating opportunities very well.”

For USA mastermind Adam KRIKORIAN it was a margin he did not expect. “To beat a team like that by four goals means it must have been an aberration (by them).” He was pleased with his defence — “the five-man defence and the half-court defence”. “Our goalkeeper (Tumuaialii ANAE) played well and I think we were a little too passive once ahead.

“They missed some early goals so after that they had to think twice. It was nice to get a lead and keep the crowd out of it, so to speak.” On China’s chances at the tournament: “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in the final,” he said.

Greece outgunned Italy 8-4, also in Group A action, shifting from 3-1 to 6-1 and 7-3 at the breaks to victory. Greek head coach Georgios MORFESIS was upset with the foul count — 14-5 — against his team as both teams were playing zone defence. “It was disappointing. How is it possible that two teams are playing zone and one gets one exclusion and the other five? I don’t understand.

“We played very well today with some good defence. The main problem today was the different way they whistled with the same defensive zone. However, this was good preparation for us. We now have to solve this fouling problem.”

Spain’s Miki OCA said he wasn’t happy with the way his team fronted for the match. “The start was not strong like yesterday. We made too many mistakes. The first quarter and second quarter is important to stay in the game. Yesterday we had some training but we have one game good and one game not good. Our preparation must be better.”


AUS vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon
AUS vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon


In Group B, Russia beat Spain 14-6, the same score Australia beat Spain on the opening day and Australia beat Canada 10-8 after twice holding four-goal margins. Russian head coach Alexander KABANOV was unconcerned when Spain twice took the lead in the second quarter. He proudly watched as his team kept Spain scoreless for nearly 13 minutes and won the third period 5-0. “We were much stronger as it showed in the third period. We were always sure we would win.”

Spanish head coach Miki OCA was pleased with his team’s first-half effort but lamented another day where his team was “killed”. “The third period was a disaster. I think they beat us 7-0 (from 3-4 to 10-4). We didn’t do well on extra man with shots and passes. We will try and get better.”

Australia had the wood over Canada but the Aussie Stingers head coach Greg McFADDEN said his side was “inconsistent”. “We had a couple of good leads but we allowed Canada back into the game with some easy goals. We weren’t composed as much as yesterday (in the 14-6 win over Spain). There were individual moments of madness. “Rachel (RIDDELL) was good in goals for them today and she kept them in the game. “It was not a great win but a win’s a win,” McFADDEN said.

Canadian head coach Pat OATEN laid the blame at mental errors. “Mental errors killed us. We can’t win (tight matches) until we don’t make these errors. There were positive things on offence but we have not been playing together enough. Girls have been off doing their own thing. “It was close at the end and we had a chance to win the game but we can’t make those silly mental errors.”

On the awarding of a controversial penalty against goalkeeper RIDDELL, OATEN said: “Our defender had her hand on the (Australian) hand and Rachel had her hand on top of that. It was stupid.”


Match reports:

MATCH 5, 15:00, RUSSIA 14 SPAIN 6
Quarters: 2-2, 3-2, 5-0, 4-2

Referees: German MOLLER (ARG), Andreas MIRALIS (GRE)
Extra Man: RUS 7/13. ESP 5/14
Pens: RUS: 0/0  ESP: 1/2

Teams:
RUSSIA: Maria KOVTUNOVSKAYA, Victoria KUROCHKINA, Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (2), Sofia KONUKH (3), Alexandra ANTONOVA (2), Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA (1), Ekaterina LISUNOVA (2), Evgenia SOBOLEVA (1), Ekaterina TANKEEVA, Olga BELYAEVA, Evgenia IVANOVA (2), Yulia GAUFLER (1), Ekaterina ZELENTSOVA. Head Coach: Alexander KABANOV.

SPAIN: Ava COPADO, Blanca GIL (1), Ana ESPAR, Roser TARRAGO, Matilde ORTIZ, Jennifer PAREJA (3), Lorena MIRANDA, Pilar PENA, Andrea BLAS, Ona MESSEGUER (1), M. Carmen GARCIA (1), Marta BACH, Laura ESTER. Head Coach: Miguela OCA.


RUS vs ESP - credit: Russell McKinnon
RUS vs ESP - credit: Russell McKinnon

Russia played a steady match and never panicked when 3-2  and 4-3 down to Spain early in the second quarter. The Russian attack hit top gear midway through the third quarter and the rest is history. Russia started strongly with the first two goals to Alexandra ANTONOVA and Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA but Spain showed some excellent water polo with M Carmen GARCIA scoring from the deep right and Jennifer PAREJA from a penalty. Spain went to the lead through Blanca GIL on extra nearly halfway through the second quarter. Evgenia SOBOLEVA received a nice cross-pass into the zone on counter to level the game but Ona MESSEGUER gave Spain the lead again with a shot from the top. At 4-3, it was looking good for Spain. However, Russia moved seamlessly into a higher gear and Ekaterina LISUNOVA and captain Sofia KONUKH took the halftime lead of 5-4. A five-goal quarter to Russia took the game to 10-4 with KONUKH and Evgenia IVANOVA scoring twice each and ANTONOVA gaining her second. KONUKH’s goal at 8-4 appeared a gift on counter after the Spanish centre forward was dragged back but a foul was called on her instead. While Russia went eight minutes without scoring earlier in the game, Spain stopped its scoring drought at nearly 13 minutes when PAREJA scored the first of two goals, either side of IVANOVA’s third, which came against the grain when all her team-mate were pressed hard and she found space to drill the ball from the outside. PAREJA could have made it her  fourth goal but had her penalty attempt blocked.  Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA made her scoring debut after sitting out the first match with a sore shoulder, shooting from the top on extra for 12-6. Spain took a timeout to no effect and Yulia GAUFLER joined the scoresheet soon after the exclusion period. Olga BELYAEVA then missed the easiest of shots from two metres, electing to lob instead of blasting the ball home. It went above the crossbar. PROKOFYEVA lobbed Ava COPADO for 14-6 with 32 seconds left and it proved that patience was a virtue for the Russians.


MATCH 6, 16:20, GROUP A, GREECE 8 ITALY 4
Quarters: 3-1, 3-0, 1-2, 1-1

Referees: Gabor VOGEL (HUN), Marie-Claude DESLIERES (CAN)
Extra Man: GRE: 2/5. ITA 4/13
Pens: GRE: 0/0. ITA: 0/1

Teams:
GREECE: Eleni KOUVDOU, Christina TSOUKALA, Antiopi MELIDONI, Ilektra Maria PSOUNI, Kyriaki LIOSI (2), Alkisti AVRAMIDOU, Alexandra ASIMAKI (3), Antigoni ROUMPESI (1), Angeliki GEROLYMOU (1), Triantafyllia MANOLIOUDAKI (1), Stavroula ANTONAKOU, Georgia LARA, Eleni GOULA. Head Coach: Georgios MORFESIS.

ITALY: Giulia GOLERO, Simona ABBATE (1), Elisa CASANOVA, Giulia RAMBALDI, Martina SAVIOLI, Allegra LAPI, Marta COLAIOCCO, Roberta BIANCONI (1), Giulia EMMOLO (1), Francesca POMERI, Aleksandra COTTI, Teresa FRASSINETTI, Laura TEANI, Elisa QUEIROLO (1), Medea VERDE. Head Coach: Fabio CONTI.


GRE vs ITA - credit: Russell McKinnon
GRE vs ITA - credit: Russell McKinnon


Greece had a marvellous start and by halftime controlled the game with a five-goal buffer. Angeliki GEROLYMOU and captain Kyriaki LIOSI gave the best start with the second goal an excellent short pass to the near post on extra-man attack. Roberta BIANCONI typified Italy’s game in the first half with a penalty shot stopped by Eleni KOUVDOU. Livewire centre forward Alexandra ASIMAKI made it 3-0 before Simona ABBATE scored Italy’s first at 0:39. It was all Greece in the second quarter with LIOSI on a lob shot, ASIMAKI from centre forward and ASIMAKI again, this time with an awkward receival at two metres, a huge twist and her third goal just eight seconds from time. Italy shot well but the Greek defence was too good. Italy looked better prepared for the second half and gained the first goal on extra when Elisa QUEIROLO sat up and powered in a long shot for 6-2. LIOSI was caught for a big kickoff when one of her shots went high and Italy called a timeout. BIANCONI followed the script and converted extra just as the Greek player returned. Christina TSOUKALA gained her third major foul but Italian could not convert the extra. At the other end of the pool, Triantafyllia MANOLIOUDAKI made it 7-3 on extra. Italy’s attempts to score before the final break were fruitless despite being one player up. After the restart, Italian head coach Fabio CONTI called a timeout on winning the swim. The ball shifted around smoothly and found Giulia EMMOLO on left-hand catch and she scored with ease for 7-4. Greece had a timeout chance at 3:21 but GEROLYMOU’s shot was wide of the goal. Antigoni ROUMPESI put the game beyond doubt with a goal at 2:19 for 8-4. KOUVDOU continued her excellent tournament with two great saves in the dying moments. In the end it was the experience of the Greeks that proved decisive, despite the huge extra-man count against.


MATCH 7, 17:40, GROUP B, AUSTRALIA 10 CANADA 8
Quarters: 2-1, 2-1, 6-4, 0-2

Referees: Jurgen HAUSCHE (GER), Filippo GOMEZ (ITA)
Extra Man: AUS: 2/11. CAN: 4/10
Pens: AUS: 1/1. CAN: 0/0

Teams:
AUSTRALIA: Kelsey WAKEFIELD, Gemma BEADSWORTH (2), Sophie SMITH, Rebecca RIPPON (1), Jane MORAN, Bronwen KNOX (1), Rowena WEBSTER, Kate GYNTHER (1), Glencora RALPH (1), Holly LINCOLN-SMITH, Zoe ARANCINI, Nicola ZAGAME (3), Keesja GOFERS (1). Head Coach: Greg McFADDEN.

CANADA: Rachel RIDDELL, Krystina ALOGBO, Katrina MONTON, Emily CSIKOS (1), Joelle BEKHAZI (3), Whitney GENOWAY, Rosanna TOMIUK (2), Sophie BARON LA SALLE, Monika EGGENS, Hanna YELIZAROVA, Tara CAMPBELL, Marina RADU, Stephanie VALIN (2). Head Coach: Pat OATEN.


AUS vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon
AUS vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Australia came up trumps with a two-goal margin over Canada but in doing so dropped two four-goal leads. The first half see-sawed with Australia scoring twice, then Canada twice and again Australia with a late pair for a 4-2 halftime margin. This was a true battle of regular protagonists and goals had to slip through rather be hammered in. The first goal came when Canada was caught stranded on a counter and Nicola ZAGAME had the freedom and luxury of taunting Canadian goalkeeper Rachel RIDDELL before popping the ball over her head. Glencora RALPH made it 2-0 down the left. Rosanna TOMIUK then had a great couple of minutes play, scoring when the Aussie Stingers had a couple binned with just seven seconds left in the quarter. Australia had an extra man at the break but could not get a goal and TOMIUK nailed her second after an extra-man play as the Aussies failed to shuffle fast enough.  Five minutes later, Gemma BEADSWORTH broke the impasse with a sliding backhand goal from two metres. Keesja GOFERS, whose sister Teniele won a gold medal in Tianjin at the FINA World Cup five years ago, scored at 1:06. Australia took little time in making it 5-2, scoring half a minute into the second half, through veteran Rebecca Rippon at deep right on extra. Stephanie VALIN pulled one back when two Aussies were binned but BEADSWORTH shot and scored from the top at the end of extra-man advantage on the next attack. Australia blew two chances with RIDDELL stopping a one-one-one chance from Zoe ARANCINI and Bronwen KNOX had her rebound shot tipped over by a defender. Emily CSIKOS scored immediately after from the top for 6-4. The reprieve was short-lived as KNOX made amends from the deep left for 7-4.  Australia went to a timeout when Krystina ALOGBO gained a major foul and several passes later, ZAGAME scored with a sweep-arm shot from deep left for 8-4. Joelle BEKHAZI replied from the top on the next attack. At 1:46 in the quarter, Canada took a timeout on extra but the ploy to pass across the goal line to VALINS cam unstuck as it hit the back line. On the counter, Kate GYNTHER gifted the ball to ZAGAME for 9-5. BEKHAZI was again in the thick of it, stealing the ball from under the nose of goalkeeper Kelsey WAKEFIELD and the close attentions of GYNTHER to score from a metre out. BEADSWORTH jumped on a loose ball just before the buzzer and RIDDELL came out and was adjudged to push the ball under as the buzzer sounded. GYNTHER swam up and scored the penalty goal for 10-6 at the final break with a 6-4 period in which BEKHAZI was outstanding. Canada wasn’t beaten yet. VALIN sent in a goal on right-hand-catch position at 6:37 and Joelle BEKHAZI added another on extra at 5:04 for 10-8. The game was on. Both teams used poor options in the next four minutes and it came down to the final minute when Canada used a timeout but ALOGBO’s shot was tipped over by WAKEFIELD.  Canada had another chance but GYNTHER stole the ball and passed to a countering Rebecca RIPPON who had her shot stopped by RIDDELL, possibly the standout player of the match.


MATCH 8, 19:00, GROUP A, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 8 CHINA 5

Referees: Noel HARROD (AUS), Santiago RODRIGUEZ (ESP)
Extra Man: USA: 2/6. CHN: 2/10
Pens: USA: 0/0. CHN: 0/0

Teams:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Tumuaialii ANAE, Heather PETRI (1), Melissa SEIDEMANN, Brenda VILLA (1), Lauren WENGER (1), Anne BELDEN (2), JESSICA STEFFENS (1), LAUREN SILVER (1), Elsie WINDES (1), Kelly RULON, Annika DRIES, Kameryn CRAIG, Margaret STEFFENS. HEAD COACH: Adam KRIKORIAN.

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


USA vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnon
USA vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnon


The USA looked like a team more willing to compete at the highest level. This ranked the world No 1 and world No 3 teams but it didn’t look like it. China was too tentative and, whereas it would take quick shots in the past, hesitation was the byword and the USA took advantage. The USA looked as good as its credentials but China could still impress in the days ahead. It was 1-1 for nearly six minutes of the first half after Lauren WENGER and SUN Yating scored goals, the latter with a smart backhand, crisply taken. Elsie WINDES scored in a goalmouth melee just before the buzzer for a 2-1 USA lead. Anne BELDEN on the right and Jessica STEFFENS with a bounce shot on extra, had the game at 4-1. China took an immediate timeout to slow the onslaught, which it did with no goal coming for four minutes. TENG Fei scored on extra 84 seconds from halftime. The old-stagers, Brenda VILLA (captain tonight) and Heather PETRI (captain last night) each scored — something they did frequently at the 2000 Olympic Games for the first time.. BELDEN swam on counter to score and Lauren SILVER drilled another for 8-3 a minute before the final break. China stepped up a shade in the final quarter and MA Huanhuan struck first on extra but at 4:15 when the game was fast slipping away. When China hesitated on another shot, USA head coach Adam KRIKORIAN called a timeout at 2:30 but nothing eventuated. YANG Jun stopped a ripper from SILVER and China used its second timeout at 0:42, in the hope of pulling at least one goal back. TENG supplied the goal with a long lob 14 seconds from time for 8-5.