Super Final 2011 (Women): USA and Italy to battle out World League Super Final decider

World League

AUS vs USA - credit: Russell McKinnonTIANJIN, China (June 18) - Reigning champion United States of America will be shooting for its sixth FINA Women’s World League crown when it faces shock finalist Italy in the gold-medal final at the Tianjin Olympic Centre Swimming & Diving Pool tomorrow. The USA came from 4-2 down at the quarter and 6-5 at halftime to beat Australia 8-7, breaking a 7-7 deadlock with an Elsie WINDES goal inside the final three minutes.

Italy repeated its mega effort of the night before when it beat Russia in a nail-biting shootout to defeat China 7-5 in the other semifinal with a scoreless final quarter. For USA it is a chance to further stamp its authority on this event while Italy is looking to go one better than its one silver (Cosenza, Italy 2006) and one bronze (Long Beach 2004).

Margaret STEFFENS (USA), twice a scorer in the match with Australia, said her team took it “quarter by quarter, winning every little battle” as the match progressed. On there being no panic in the team when behind at halftime, STEFFENS said: “There was adrenalin building in you all the time. We had to be smart on defence. We knew it was going to end up a swim meet as the Australians are super fast. It comes down to who can keep going the longest. “

Australian captain Kate GYNTHER said: “We had a great start to the game at 4-2 up but they kept us to three goals for the rest of the game, which was disappointing. This week we have had a couple of slow starts so that was a positive.”

On the recent tour, which included the Kirishi Cup in Russia, GYNTHER said: “We’ve had a good trip but a few inconsistent results. On Monday we head home and go into camp before Shanghai (FINA World Championships).

Italian head coach Fabio CONTI was modest after the victory over China. “When a team arrives for a semifinal or a final, every time it is a different kind of game. “I’m happy because our girls today played unlike the last game and used their heads to work until the end of the game with good character. This is good for our esteem and tomorrow (in the final with the USA) I hope they can stay happy. To make the final is a very good result.”

In the bottom end of the competition, Russia held of a spirited Spain 14-12 and Canada had the better of Greece 13-9. Russia bolted out of the gate for a 4-0 start and ended the quarter 6-4 ahead. The next three periods were tied but the Spanish were hurt with the loss of star Blanca GIL late in the third period but were still egged on by captain Jennifer PAREJA who scored five goals.

Russian head coach Alexander KABANOV said it was hard for his team to get the motivation to play following the shock loss to Italy the night before. “I’m glad we won but my players had no motivation to play better. A few goals were excellent. But we have played too much water polo in the past month. I did not want to come to Tianjin as we have played 17 games in Italy, Kirishi (Russia) and Tianjin. KABANOV said the inability to finish top four in Tianjin would be excellent motivation for the FINA World Championships in Shanghai next month.

Canada set itself up for a rematch with Russia for fifth place with a 13-9 success over Greece, built mainly on a 6-1 second quarter. Canadian head coach Pat OATEN said his team was starting to come together. “We have good shooters and they now realise they can shoot the ball. They followed the game plan for the first two quarters and we pushed the pace but we still have a lot of work to do.”

On tomorrow’s clash with Russia, OATEN said: “It will be an interesting and good game. We would like a little redemption for our one-goal loss (9-8 on day one). They will be looking to counter-attack us but we’ll deal with it.”

Greece head coach Georgios MORFESIS rued the poor conversion on extra man early in the game. “We didn’t do what we had to do. Coming back from 1-6 was difficult. We came back to two goals but I think the result was right. “ On the absence of star veteran Antigoni ROUMPESI: “We missed ROUMPESI’s scoring. She did not play because of a sore arm received in yesterday’s game. Her scoring is important.” On where from here: “We just want to be good for the World Championships. That’s our aim.”


Match reports:

MATCH 17, 15:00, 5-8 SEMIFINAL, SPAIN 12 RUSSIA 14

Quarters: 4-6, 1-1, 3-3, 4-4

Referees: Noel HARROD (AUS), John WALDOW (NZL)
Extra Man: ESP: 4/8. RUS: 4/12
Pens: ESP: 3/3. RUS: 2/2

Teams:
SPAIN: Ava COPADO, Blanca GIL (2), Ana ESPAR, Roser TARRAGO, Matilde ORTIZ (1), Jennifer PAREJA (5), Lorena MIRANDA, Pilar PENA (1), Andrea BLAS, Ona MESSEGUER, M. Carmen GARCIA (3), Marta BACH, Laura ESTER. Head Coach: Miguela OCA.

RUSSIA: Maria KOVTUNOFSKAYA, Nadezhda FEDOTOVA (3), Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (4), Sofia KONUKH (3), Alexandra ANTONOVA, Victoria KUROCHKINA, Ekaterina LISUNOVA, Ekaterina ZELENTSOVA, Ekaterina TANKEEVA, Olga BELYAEVA (1), Evgenia IVANOVA (3), Yulia GAUFLER, Anna KARNAUKH. Head Coach: Alexander KABANOV.


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


The opening two quarters were in stark contrast as the scoring suggests. The mobility and speed of the Russians at the start of the game was such that after four goals in four minutes, Spanish head coach Miki OCA called a timeout. Whatever he said, it worked. Within eight seconds Spain was in the game. Evgenia IVANOVA rattled in two of those, including one from seven metres while Nadezhda FEDOTOVA and Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA scored on extra. OCA’s timeout ploy saw captain Jennifer PAREJA score from the penalty line. M Carmen GARCIA then scored the first of her two centre-forward backhand goals before PAREJA speared one in from five metres. Spain was back to 4-3 behind. PROKOFYEVA sent in a lob from the top and GARCIA nabbed her second for 5-4. With the seconds ticking down, Ekaterina had the smarts to fire the ball high to PROKOFYEVA at three metres who turned and dragged the ball into goal with a few seconds spare for 6-4 to end the quarter. The second quarter was all defence and consolidation with PAREJA gaining her third from six metres and Russian captain KONUKH from the top on extra. KONUKH was out to make amends for being fouled out of the game  two minutes from the end of the third period and could not contest the penalty shootout against Italy.  Spain drew level at 7-7 in the third with Matilde ORTIZ gaining her first goal of the tournament when the ball went high to her in two metres and virtually fumbled it above the head of Russian goalkeeper Maria KOVTUNOFSKAYA and it dribbled across the line. Blanca GIL hit the scoring list with a marvellous turn at centre forward. Russia regained the ascendency with IVANOVA with her third from the top and FEDOTOVA from close in. GIL stopped the charge with a nine-metre rocket at 2:08 to trail 9-8. Then GIL committed the sin of holding two arms up within five metres when Russia was shooting, forcing a penalty shot, which KONUKH converted for 10-8 with nine seconds left in the period. KONUKH scored a second penalty goal two minutes into the fourth for 11-8. Russia nearly scored on counter but Spain shut it down only to leave FEDOTOVA free on the far side. She received the gift pass and scored for 12-8. OCA called his second timeout after a Russian goal and for the second time secured a penalty shot from the play. PAREJA converted (her fourth). GARCIA narrowed the margin to two with a power shot from five metres and PROKOFYEVA lobbed at the end of possession time. Olga BELYAEVA lobbed from two metres before Pilar PENA turned for a strong left-handed shot. Andrea BLAS gained a penalty, sending Ekaterina TANKEEVA from the game, giving PAREJA her fifth goal for 14-12 down.  It was a proud effort by Spain without GIL in the final quarter, where each team scored four goals.


MATCH 18, 16:20, 5-8 SEMIFINAL, GREECE 9 CANADA 13
Quarters: 1-1, 0-5, 5-3, 3-4

Referees: Filippo GOMEZ (ITA), Jurgen HAUSCHE (GER)
Extra Man: GRE: 5/15. CAN 4/10
Pens: GRE: 0/1. CAN: 0/0

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

CANADA: Rachel RIDDELL, Krystina ALOGBO (2), Katrina MONTON, Emily CSIKOS (4), Stephanie VALIN, Whitney GENOWAY (1), Sophie BARON LA SALLE (5), Dominique PERREAULT (1), Monika EGGENS, Hanna YELIZAROVA, Tara CAMPBELL, Marina RADU, Serena BREDIN. Head Coach: Pat OATEN.


GRE vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon
GRE vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Canada turned up to play and after an initial feeling-out period, came good with a second-quarter surge that set up what was to be a four-goal victory. The first period was solid play but nothing flash as Greece opened through the powerful centre forward Alexandra ASIMAKI at two metres. It was four minutes later that Canada scored its first goal through Emily CSIKOS, also at two metres. Angeliki GEROLYMOU had a great chance for 2-1 just inside the last minute but Rachel RIDDELL climbed high and leaned left to stop the penalty shot. Sophie BARON LA SALLE, one of Canada’s rotation players, made the most of few opportunities when she scored three of her team’s five goals in the second quarter. She twice scored from the top while the other came off a drive and finished an excellent cross-pass. Captain Krystina ALOGBO and CSIKOS both converted extra-man plays. The 6-1, halftime lead was a massive boost for the Canadians. Greece fronted in the third period with Alkisti AVRAMIDOU netting on counter and ASIMAKI scoring on a double-extra situation either side of a Whitney GENOWAY (first for the tournament) goal. At 7-3, Greece had a chance but CSIKOS and LA SALLE scored in a minute for 9-3. In the final two minutes, Georgia LARA, Triantafyllia MANOLIOUDAKI and captain Kyriaki LIOSI went on the rampage. The first two came on extra with MANOLIOUDAKI snapping in a rebound from point-blank range. At 9-6 by the final break, Greece was still within winning distance. AVRAMIDOU made it a two-goal game from close in but ALOGBO responded. Both teams took a timeout to no avail. CSIKOS drilled the 11-7 goal after a swift offload from ALOGBO. ASIMAKI scored off the near post on extra; LA SALLE scored her fifth from five metres, Christina TSOUKALA converted extra and the game was 12-9 going into the last minute. Greece kept punching in shots but it was Dominique PERREAULT who scored last for Canada 21 seconds from time off a deflection. As a sidebar to the game, German referee Jurgen HAUSCHE ended his senior role as a FINA referee, having to take mandatory retirement.


MATCH 19, 19:00, 1-4 SEMIFINAL, CHINA 5 ITALY 7
Quarters: 1-2, 2-1, 2-4, 0-0

Referees: Santiago RODRIGUEZ (ESP), Irfan SADEKOV (RUS)
Extra Man: CHN: 2/10. ITA: 3/7
Pens: CHN: 0/1. ITA: 1/1

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

ITALY: Giulia GOLERO, Simona ABBATE (1), Elisa CASANOVA (2), Giulia RAMBALDI, Martina SAVIOLI, Alegra LAPI, Marta COLAIOCCO, Roberta BIANCONI (4), Giulia EMMOLO (6), Francesca POMERI (2), Aleksandra COTTI, Teresa FRASSINETTI (3), Elisa QUEIROLO (3). Head Coach: Fabio CONTI.


CHN vs ITA - credit: Russell McKinnon
CHN vs ITA - credit: Russell McKinnon


Italy proved that beating Russia in a sudden-death penalty shootout was not out of character and a solid effort against a hesitant China was just reward to make the final . There was never going to be much in this game, much like the previous semifinal. SUN Huizi started China’s scoring from close in. Roberta BIANCONI converted a penalty. TENG Fei had her penalty attempt blocked by Giulia GORLERO and Giulia EMMOLO ripped one in from seven metres for a 2-1 quarter-time lead. SONG Donglun scored after receiving a cross-pass. Simona ABBATE responded from deep left-hand catch while SUN Yating slapped in a rebound from in front to level the game at 3-3 by halftime. EMMOLO converted extra to take the early second-half lead but ZHANG Lei went deep on the right, wasn’t guarded and she scored from an acute angle. ABBATE netted a second from the top but SONG replied on extra from the far post for 5-5. China’s attraction to Italy then distanced a little as EMMOLO became the equal highest goal-scorer with her third and fourth goals for the game and 12th of the tournament. The first was on extra and the second from five metres for 7-5 at the final break. Italy used its second timeout after earlier stopping between EMMOLO’s goals. Nothing made the scoresheet. Two minutes later China used its first timeout in an effort to get within a goal. ZHANG was the go-to girl but her acute-angle shot went wide. China still looked too tentative on attack and shots were generally blocked but none was a top effort. Juan JANE GIRALT used his second timeout at 1:57 when the future looked grim. The attack was weak. Italy worked hard on attack to no avail but managed to retain possession at the crucial stage to secure a gold-medal berth. As with the previous semifinal, the losing team both missed critical penalty attempts.


MATCH 20, 17:40, 1-4 SEMIFINAL, AUSTRALIA 7 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 8
Quarters: 4-2, 2-3, 0-2, 1-1

Referees: Andreas MOIRALIS (GRE), German MOLLER (ARG)
Extra Man: AUS: 3/7. USA: 4/8
Pens: AUS: 0/1. USA: 0/0

Teams:
AUSTRALIA: Alicia McCORMACK, Gemma BEADSWORTH, Sophie SMITH, Rebecca RIPPON (1), Jane MORAN, Bronwen KNOX (1), Rowena WEBSTER (3), Kate GYNTHER, Glencora RALPH (1), Holly LINCOLN-SMITH (2), Ashleigh SOUTHERN (2), Nicola ZAGAME, Kelsey WAKEFIELD. Head Coach: Alexander OSADCHUK.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elizabeth ARMSTRONG, Heather PETRI, Melissa SEIDEMANN (1), Brenda VILLA (1), Lauren WENGER, Courtney MATHEWSON (1), JESSICA STEFFENS, LAUREN SILVER (1), Elsie WINDES (1), Kelly RULON (2), Annika DRIES (1), Kameryn CRAIG, Margaret STEFFENS. Head Coach: Adam KRIKORIAN.

AUS vs USA - credit: Russell McKinnon
AUS vs USA - credit: Russell McKinnon

The USA came from 4-2, 5-4 and 6-5 down to take the three-quarter lead at 7-6 and win the first semifinal. Australia was restricted to three goals in the second half and that proved costly against a team hungry for a sixth gold. Australia must have been happy with a 2-0 start, Holly LINCOLN-SMITH scoring from the hole and Gemma BEADSWORTH doing the same soon after when she replaced LINCOLN-SMITH. Lauren SILVER, who has played the last few seasons for a Sydney club in the Australian National League, scored from seven metres on extra.. Nicola ZAGAME made it 3-1 with a taunting goal against Betsy ARMSTRONG at two metres. Jessica STEFFENS threaded the gap with a bouncer on extra and Bronwen KNOX added the third centre-forward goal for the Aussie Stingers to lead 4-2 at the break. Maggie Steffens scored from extra and then Ashleigh SOUTHERN sent a penalty shot into the right upright. Lauren WENGER scored an easy goal on a defensive mix-up by the Australians to level the game at 4-4. KNOX drove the right, collected an ejection, continued with the drive, received the ball and scored at 2:23. Kelly RULON converted her penalty attempt for 5-5. The Stingers called a timeout and the result was captain Kate GYNTHER nailing the conversion just as the returning player neared. Australia led 6-5 at halftime. The third period — the money quarter — was a riveting, defensive affair but no goals came until inside the three-minute mark when Maggie STEFFENS sent in a slider to the right. Annika DRIES drew a wonderful penalty foul inside the last minute and Courtney MATHEWSON converted for the USA’s first lead of the match. Australia had a chance on extra in the dying seconds of the quarter but botched the cross-pass, making for a sloppy shot. BEADSWORTH lobbed on extra three minutes into the final quarter for 7-7. Two minutes later Elsie WINDES was left free at the top and she shot comfortably for the lead. The USA used a timeout but the shot hit the crossbar. Australia called time and the resulting shot hit the crossbar. The USA called another timeout just to shut the game down in the final 10 seconds. Australia gained the ball with three seconds left but the clock did not stop and there was no chance to shoot. The USA had deservedly won the match.


Sunday draw:
15:00 7th & 8th classification  ESP v GRE
16:20 5th & 6th classification  RUS v CAN
17:40 3rd & 4th classification AUS v CHN
19:00 1st & 2nd classification USA v ITA

Leading goal-scorers:
12
Sofia KONUKH (RUS)
12
Giulia EMMOLO (ITA)
11
Blanca GIL (ESP)
11
Evgenia IVANOVA (RUS)
10
Jennifer PAREJA (ESP)
10
Bronwen KNOX (AUS)
9
MA Huanhuan (CHN)
9
Emily CSIKOS (CAN)
8
Antigoni ROUMPESI (GRE)
8
M GARCIA (ESP)
8
Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (RUS)
8
Kate GYNTHER (AUS)
8
Roberta BIANCONI (ITA)
8
Simona ABBATE (ITA)
7
Olga BELYAEVA (RUS)
7
Hanna YELIZAROVA (CAN)
7
TENG Fei (CHN)
7
SUN Yating (CHN)
6
Krystina ALOGBO (CAN)
6
Ona MESSEGUER (ESP)
6
Stavroula ANTONAKOU (GRE)
6
Kelly RULON (USA)
5
Aleksandra COTTI (ITA)
5
Natalia RYZHOVA-ALENICHEVA (RUS)
5
Ashleigh SOUTHERN (AUS)
5
Brenda VILLA (USA)
5
SUN Yujun (CHN)
5
FEDOTOVA (RUS)
5
Sophie BARON LA SALLE (CAN)