An all-mediterranean final for Spain and Italy

London 2012 Water Polo

Trieste (April 21) - Following their respective victory against Hungary and Russia, the squads of Spain and Italy will battle for the first place in tomorrow's final of the Women's Water Polo Olympic Games Qualification Tournament in Trieste (ITA). Having successfully reached the quarter finals yesterday, the four teams have met the Olympic target to compete at the London Games this summer. In today's other two matches, Greece was the obvious winner in their clash with Kazakhstan, scoring 21-9 while the Netherlands defeated Canada 16-13. 

After yesterday’s decisive quarter-finals, adrenaline was lower on day 6 of the tournament. Some teams seemed to lack motivation. Others, quite simply, did not have much energy left. Whatever the reason, today’s matches were less intense than yesterday’s, with the exception of the last match between Russia and Italy, which was thrilling and exciting until the very end.

Match reports:

Game 21: 16.00, Semi Final, KAZAKHSTAN 9 GREECE 21
(1-7, 4-4; 2-6, 2-4)
Referees: Gabor Vogel (HUN), Marie Claude Deslieres (CAN).
KAZAKHSTAN: Galina Rytova, Lyudmila Chegodayeva (1), Aizhan Akilbayeva (1), Anna Turova (1), Darya Vassilyeva, Anna Zubkova, Natalya Alexandrova, Yekaterina Gariyeva, Assel Yakayeva (1), Marina Gritsenko (3), Alexandra Rozhentseva , Kamila Marina, Kristina Krassikova. Head Coach: Andrey Sazykin.
GREECE: Eleni Kouvdou, Christina Tsoukala (6), Antiopi Melidoni (2), Ilektra Psouni, Kyriaki Liosi (2), Alkisti Avramidou (1), Alexandra Asimaki (4), Antigoni Roumpesi, Angeliki Gerolymou (1), Triantafyllia Manolioudaki (2), Stavroula Antonakou (2), Georgia Lara (1), Chrysoula Diamantopoulo. Head Coach: Georgios Morfesis.

Easy stroll for Greece, the reigning World champion. The Hellenics pressed on the accelerator only in  the first  quarter when they accumulated the insurmountable lead of six goals over the Kazakhs (7-1). The second quarter was a tie, on 4-4. At half time the score was 5-11. The third quarter was all for Greece. The Hellenics went  into the last period with the advantage of 10 goals (7-17). In the last quarter, they rounded the score with four more goals to two (2-4). Top scorers were Greece’s Tsoukala and Asimaki, respectively with six and four goals. Gritsenko was the best scorer for Kazakhstan, with three goals.

KAZ vs GRE - credit: Guido Cantini/Sea&See

Chegodayeva (KAZ) was excluded at 5:39 of the third quarter for three major fouls. Extra-men: Kazakhstan 0/3 + one penalty converted; Greece 4/5 + 3 penalties converted. Diamantopoulou (GRE) replaced Kouvdou at the start of the third period; Krassikova (KAZ) replaced  Rytova at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Goal highlights:
First quarter: 6:25 Liosi (GRE);  6:09 Jakayeva (KAZ); 5:43 Asimaki (GRE); 4:57 Liosi (GRE); 3:38 Antonaku (GRE), 3:08 Tsoukala (GRE); 1:23 Melidoni (GRE); 0:46 Lara (GRE). (1-7). Second quarter: 6.13 Asimaki (GRE); 5:51 Gritsenko (KAZ); 5:42 Gerolymou (GRE) on penalty; 5:21 Asimaki (GRE); 4:54 Akilbayeva (KAZ); 2:51 Antonaku (GRE); 1:47 Chegodayeva (KAZ); 1:17 Zubkova (KAZ). (4-4). Third quarter: 7:17,3:51, 3:19 Tsoukala (GRE), the first on penalty; 2:34 Manolioudaki (GRE); 2:13 Melidoni (GRE); 1:21 Tsoukala (GRE), again on penalty; 0:58 Gritsenko (KAZ) on penalty; 0:25 Turova (KAZ). (2-6). Fourth quarter: 6:04 Gritsenko (KAZ); 5:30 Akilbayeva (KAZ); 3:38 Tsoukala (GRE); 2:33 Asimaki (GRE); 1:47 Manolioudaki (GRE); 0:31 Avramidou (GRE). (2-4).

Game 22: 17.30, Semi Final, CANADA 13 NETHERLANDS 16
(3-6, 3-4; 5-3, 2-3)
Referees: Cory Williams (NZL), Adil Aimbetov.
CANADA: Rachel Riddell, Krystina Alogbo (4), Katrina Monton (2), Emily Jean Csikos, Joelle Bekhazi (4), Carmen Camille Eggens, Rosanna Tomiuk (1), Dominique Perreault (2), Monika Catharina Eggens, Christine Robinson, Tara Campbell, Marina Radu, Serena Bredin. Head Coach: Patrick Oaten.
NETHERLANDS: Ilse Van der Meijden, Yasemin Smit, Mieke Cabout (1), Biurakn Hakhverdian (1), Sabrina Van der Sloot (3), Nomi Stomphorst (1), Iefke Van Belkum (5), Robbin Remers (1), Vivian Sevenich (1), Nienke Vermeer, Lieke Maria Klaassen (3), Hariet Cabout, Anne Heinis. Head Coach: Mauro Maugeri.

Canada and the Netherlands, two of the possible contenders for a medal in London, on the eve of this tournament had to face each other in a match of little significance for both teams (both coaches remained sitted quietly on the bench for almost the entire duration of the match). Nevertheless, they committed themselves to play a honourable game. In the first half, the Netherlands - that had lost only one game (against Italy, in the quarter finals, by just one goal) - were always in front; at half time, they were leading 10-6. In the third quarter, the Canadians prevailed 5-2 and the teams went into the final quarter on the score of 11-13. The fourth quarter was again for the Netherlands whose squad eventually won the game with a margin of three goals. Van Belkum (NED) was the top scorer with five goals. Alogbo and Bekhazi top scored for Canada, both with four goals.

CAN vs NED - credit: Guido Cantini/Sea&See

Extra-man: Canada 2/2, the Netherlands 2/5 + one penalty converted. Heinis (NED) replaced Van Der Meijden at the start of the third period.

Goal highlights:
First quarter; 6:42 Klaassen (NED); 6:02 Van Belkum (NED); 4:35 Bekhazi (CAN); 3:58 Klaassen (NED); 3:14 Van Belkum (NED); 1:52 Monton (CAN); 1:12 Remers (NED); 0:25 Hakhverdian (NED); 0:08 Monton (CAN). (3-6). Second quarter: 7:54 Mieke Cabout (NED), 7:10 Bekhazi (CAN); 5:31 Alogbo (CAN); 4:28 Van der Sloot (NED); 3:20 Alogbo (CAN); 2:06 and 1:14 Van Belkum (NED). (3-4). Third quarter: 7:32 Sevenich (NED); 7:08 Alogbo (CAN); 5:26 Bekhazi (CAN); 5:04 Klaassen (NED) on penalty; 1:48 and 0:45 Perreault (CAN); 0:25 Stomphorst (NED); 0.10 Alogbo (CAN). (5-3). Fourth quarter: 7:11 Tomiuk (CAN); 5:41 and 4:29 Van der Sloot (NED); 2:27 (NED). Third quarter: 5:19 Pena (ESP); 2:54 Dravucz (HUN); 1:57 Pena (ESP); 1:38 Dravucz (HUN); 1:16 Tarrago (ESP). (2-3). Fourth quarter: 6.41 Buika (HUN); 5:23 Espar (ESP); 3:12 Pena (ESP); 1:17 Keszthelyi (HUN).

Game 23: 19.00, Semi Final, HUNGARY 8 SPAIN 10
(0-2, 4-3; 2-3, 2-2)
Referees: Mario Bianchi (ITA), Dunli Cao (CHN).
HUNGARY: Flora Bolonyai, Dora Csabai (1), Dora Antal, Hanna Kisteleki (1), Gabriella Szucs, Orsolya Takacs, Rita Dravucz (2), Rita Keszthelyi (1), Ildiko Toth, Barbara Buika (3), Dora Czigany, Kata Menczinger, Edina Gangi. Head Coach: Andras Meresz.
SPAIN: Laura Ester, Marta Bach (1), Anna Espar (2), Roser Tarrago (2), Matilde Ortiz (1), Jennifer Pareja, Lorena Miranda, Pilar Pena (4), Andrea Blas, Ona Meseguer, Maria Carmen Garcia, Laura Lopez, Ana Copado. Head Coach: Miguel Oca.

The first quarter was 2-0 for Spain; the second quarter 4-3 for Hungary. At half time, Spain was leading by one goal (5-4); the second  quarter ended in favour of Spain. Going into the last quarter the gap was still of two goals in favour of the Spaniards. In the final period, the gap of two goals for Spain remained. The last quarter was a tie (2-2) and Spain won the match 10-8. The match winner and top scorer, with four goals was Spain’s #8 Pilar Pena (left handed). The young and fresh Spanish side confirmed all the good shown in the previous matches. Coach Oca’s players have shown high technical skills and effective tactics on the field.

HUN vs ESP - credit: Guido Cantini/Sea&See

Tarrago (ESP) was excluded for three major fouls at 7:22 of the fourth quarter. Extra-man: Hungary 1/9, Spain 4/10. Gangl (HUN) replaced Bolonyai at the start of the third quarter.
Goal highlights:
First quarter: 7:35 Ortiz (ESP); 2:24 Espar (ESP). (0-2). Second quarter: 7:13 Buika (HUN); 6:26 Tarrago (ESP); 6:07 Kisteleki (HUN); 5:10 Bach (ESP); Csabai (HUN); 3:46 Buika (HUN); 3:08 Pena (ESP). Third quarter: 5:19 Pena (ESP); 2:54 Dravucz (HUN); 1:57 Pena (ESP); 1:38 Dravucz (HUN); 1:16 Tarrago (ESP). (2-3). Fourth quarter: 6.41 Buika (HUN); 5:23 Espar (ESP); 3:12 Pena (ESP); 1:17 Keszthelyi (HUN).

Game 24: 20.30, Semi Final, RUSSIA 13 ITALY 14
(5-5, 2-3; 4-3, 2-3)
Referees: Brian Littlejohn (GBR), Radu Matache (ROU).
RUSSIA: Maria Kovtunosakaya, Nadezhda Fedotova (1), Ekaterina Prokofyeava (1), Sofya Konukh (2), Alexandra Antonova (1), Olga Belova, Ekaterina Lisunova (2), Evgeniia Khokhriakova, Ekaterina Tankeeva (1), Olga Beliaeva (3),  Evgeniya Ivanova (2), Diana Antonova, Anna Karnaukh. Head Coach: Alexander Kabanov.
ITALY: Elena Gigli, Simona Abbate, Elisa Casanova (3), Rosaria Aiello, Martina Savioli (2), Allegra Lapi, Tania Di Mario (6), Roberta Bianconi (2), Giulia Emmolo, Giulia Rambaldi (1), Aleksandra Cotti, Teresa Frassinetti, Giulia Gorlero. Head Coach: Fabio Conti.

Russia was out to a fast start and went up three goals (3-0) in the first  2 and a half minute. The reaction of the Italians, inspired by the implacable striker Tania Di Mario, was effective. The first quarter ended on a tie, 5-5. Gorlero, who was not employed in the previous games, replaced Gigli between Italy’s post from the beginning of the match. Instead, Karnaukh and Kovtunovskaya alternated as Russia’s goalkeepers. In the second quarter, Italy scored the opening goal, again with Di Mario. Konukh tied at 6-6. Then the two #5 - Savioli and Alexandra Antonova - scored three goals: the Italian the fi rst and the third, the Russian the one in between. 8-7 for Italy at half time. Russia won the third period 4-3 and the two teams went into the last period on a tie, 11-11. Inspired by Di Mario, Italy won the last quarter 3-2 and the game 14-13. Di Mario was the best player in the field and the top scorer, with six goals. Both Russia and Italy missed a penalty each; at 2:53 of the third quarter Konukh hit the bar; at 7:15 of the fourth quarter Di Mario hit the post. Italy advances to the final for the first place where they will face Spain, to whom they lost in the first Preliminary Round match.

ITA vs RUS - credit: Guido Cantini/Sea&See

Excluded for three major fould Alexandra Antonova (RUS) at 3:33 of the third period, Konukh (RUS) at 1:51 of the fourth period. Extra-men: Russia 5/6 + a penalty missed; Italy 4/9 + 2 penalties, one converted, the other one missed.
Goal highlights:
First quarter: 6:51 Lisunova (RUS); 6:14 Konukh (RUS); 5:31 Ivanova (RUS); 5:17 Casanova (ITA); 4:56 Bianconi (ITA); 3:33 Tankeeva (RUS); 3:12 Rambaldi (ITA); 1:57 Di Mario (ITA); 0:08 Beliaeva  (RUS); 0:01 Di Mario (ITA). (5-5). Second quarter: 6:51 Di Mario netted her third goal, again from outside, on extra-man; 5:37 Konukh (RUS); 3:16 Savioli (ITA); 1:57 Alexandra Antonova (RUS); 1:30 Savioli (ITA). (2-3). Third quarter: 7:27 Di Mario blazed again from the long distance to score her fourth goal; 7:09 Beliaeva (RUS); 6:23 Ivanova (RUS); 6:07 Casanova (ITA), on a backshot from 2-metres; 5:17 Lisunova (RUS), on a lob shot from the distance; 5:07 Casanova (ITA) replicated her previous goal; 0:26 Prokofyeava (RUS). (3-4). Fourth quarter: 6:51 Fedotova  (RUS); 6:35 Di Mario scored her fifth goal, again from the distance; 5:57 Bianconi (ITA); 5:22 Di Mario (ITA) netted her sixth goal; 4:41 Beliaeva (RUS). (2-3).