Super Final 2012 (Women): Australia beats Russia after shootouts, Greece defeats home squad

World League

CHINA, Changshu (May 31) - The race for the podium escalated in the last game of Day 3 of the FINA Women's Water Polo World League Super Final with the Australian team delivering an intense battle to beat the Russians after an amazing penalty shootout for a close 9-7 victory. Defending champions USA easily crushed Germany 17-3, Canada defeated Italy 9-4 and Greece stunned host China 12-9.

The last day of preliminaries see USA and China climbing on top of Group A while Australia and Russia finish 1-2 of Group B. The four advance to the quarter finals as strong favourites.

Match reports

Game 9, ITALY 4 - CANADA 9
(0-2, 1-3, 0-3, 3-1)
Referees: Meng Anlong, Drury
ITALY: Federica Eugenia Lavi, Ursula Gitto, Martina Verducci, Giulia Viacava, Alessia Millo, Laura Repetto, Giovanna Pellegrino, Claudia Marletta, Valeria Grazia Palmieri, Carla Carrega, Giusy Citino, Pomeri Francesca (captain), Sara Dario. Head coach: Paolo Zizza.
CANADA: Serena Bredin, Kelly McKee Blair, Katrina Monton, Alexia Tielmann, Stephanie Valin, Sophie Baron, Joelle Bekhazi (captain), Hanna Yelizarova, Rebekka Steenkamer, Monika Eggens, Carmen Eggens, Dominique Perreault, Emma Wright. Head coach: Justin Oliveira.

Canada dominated from the start with a powerful shot by Alexia Tielmann at 4:15. The Canadians continued their offence, comfortably leading 8-1 after the third quarter. Monika Eggens scored three goals for Canada in the first three quarters. The last quarter was the wake-up call for the Italian squad with Giulia Viacava, Laura Repetto and Giovanna Pellegrino scoring scoring one goal each at 6:45, 5:37 and 3:49 respectively, to narrow the gap with Canada.

Italy's Head coach Paolo Zizza said on the loss:"Sara Dario and Laura Repetto were our stars today. They played better than yesterday. It was very, very difficult to play against Canada."

Canada's Head coach Justin Oliveira said on his victorious team: "I'm very, very happy that our girls played an intensive game against Italy. They did an excellent job. Our young players have only been working together for two weeks. They bring a lot of emotions into the game. They really want to try hard and give out 100 percent. Tomorrow we will play the winner of the China-Greece game. I guess my girls would love to play against China because it is the home squad. The crowd will make them excited. They need to gain such experience against the hosts in their early career."

ITA vs CAN - credit: Han Yuqing

Game 10, GREECE 9 - CHINA 12
(2-2, 4-3, 2-6, 1-1)
Referees: Denis Danelon, Axel Bender
GREECE: Eleni Kouvdou, Christina Chrysoula Tsoukala, Christina Kotsia, Ilektra Maria Psouni, Stefania Charalampidi, Avramidou Alkisti, Alexandra Asimaki (captain), Ioanna Charalampidi, Eleftheria Plevritou, Manolioudaki Triantaf, Margarita Plevritou, Stamatina Koutogianni, Chrysoula Diamantopoulou. Head coach: Georgios Morfesis.
CHINA: Yang Jun, Teng Fei, Zhu Yajing, Sun Yujun, He Jin, Sun Yating, Song Donglun, Gao Ao, Wang Yi, Ma Huanhuan (captain), Sun Huizi, Zhang Lei, Wang Ying. Head coach: Juan Jane Giralt.

World runner-up China faced pressure from Greece but soon gain momentum to eventually win the game 12-9. In the first quarter, Greece took the lead 2-0 before China's Head coach Juan Jane Giralt called a time-out. With their opponent still strong at half of the game, China struggled to take the lead, firing six shots in the third quarter to enjoy a three-goal advantage. China's Sun Yating and Wang Yi scored three goals each in the game.

Post-game, China's Head coach Giralt said: "We just played a little better than Greece. Our players seemed sleepy in the first half that's why I called a time-out after 0-2 in the first quarter. I'm happy that goalkeeper Gao Jun was awake from the third quarter on. She played a very important role for the whole team."

Greece's Head coach Morfesis also reflected on his team's performance: "Today, we saved a lot of goals. We were good in defence. Our team is very young with an average age of 20 years old. We need time and experience to play this kind of game level."

GRE vs CHN - credit: Han Yuqing

Game 11, GERMANY 3 - USA 17
Referees: Kazuhiko Makit, Daniel Flahive
GERMANY: Bianca Ahrens, Jasmin Krieter, Tatjana Steinhauer, Carolin Seifert, Claudia Blomenkamp, Anja Seyfert, Monika Kruszona, Claudia Kern, Kim Illinger, Jenny Stiefel, Carmen Gelse (captain), Bianca Seyfert, Jana Lueg. Head coach: Rene Reimann.
USA: Elizabeth Armstrong, Heather Petri, Melissa Seidemann, Brenda Villa, (captain), Lauren Wenger, M. Seidemann, Margaret Steffens, Jessica Steffens, Elsie Windes, Kelly Rulon, Annika Dries, Kameryn Craig, Tumuaialii Anae. Head coach: Adam Krikorian.

The six-time World League champions had little trouble overcoming the Germans, imposing a 5-0 lead from the very beginning and repeating the strategy in the second quarter. Melissa Seidemann netted three shots for the U.S. while the rest came from eight other teammates.  

U.S. team Head coach Krikorian said on the victory:"We played well in defence and offence. We're now getting ready for the London Olympic Games. We had three wins in the group, but it's very important for tomorrow's match. We need to be careful to every rival."

Germany's Head coach Reimann said on the loss: "It's a bad day for us. We really wanted to do something in the offence but we could not work it out. I wanted my team to fight until the last moment, not to give up. We found no way to get our center to make good passes and shots. Team USA is physically stronger and is the best in the world."

GER vs USA - credit: Han Yuqing

(3-2, 2-3, 1-1, 0-0, extra time 1-3)
Referees: Emanuel Taylan, Birakis Michail
AUSTRALIA: Victoria Brown, Gemma Beadswork, Sophie Smith, H. L. Smith, Jane Moran, Bronwen Knox, Rowena Webster, Kate Gynther (captain), Glencora Rippon, Ashleigh Southen, Melissa Rippon, Nicola Zagame. Head coach: Greg Mcfadden.
RUSSIA: Maria Kovtunovskaia, Nadezhda Fedotova, Ekaterina Prokofyeva, Sofya Konukh (captain), Alexandra Antonova, Victoria Kurochkina, Ekaterina Lisunova, Marina Kalyagina, Ekaterina Tankeeva, Olga Belova, Evgeniya Ivanova, Diana Antonova, Ksenia Krimer. Head coach: Alexander Kabanov.

The last game of the day was a very balanced one between two equally as strong opponents; 2011 World League bronze medallist Australia and World number 3 Russia. After an intense battle in the first three quarters, the two teams tied 6-6. With none of the teams netting a single shot in the last quarter, the outcome of the game would be decided through penalty shootouts. The Russians, despite benefiting from an extra-man advantage, scored only once while Australia's three scoring attempts proved successful.

Australia's Head coach Mcfadden said on the victory: "We were lucky in the end. The goalkeeper saved us. I expected it to be a tough game. Both teams were missing two of their best players and it didn't make any difference to us."

Russia's Head coach Kabanov reflected on the tight finish: "It is a pity that we missed some shots when we had several major advantage opportunities, however, I like the way my girls played. We just needed more luck in the penalty shootouts."

RUS vs AUS - credit: Han Yuqing