Super Final 2012 (Women): Australia and USA will play decisive match for gold

World League

CHINA, Changshu (June 2) - The United States moved a step closer of winning their seventh World League title after edging Greece 7-6 in the semi finals of the FINA Women's Water Polo World League Super Final, organised in Changshu (CHN). The North Americans will play against Australia in the decisive match of the Super Final. The Aussies trailed China for most of the other semi final game but rallied to beat the hosts 8-7. Super Final rookie Germany made history by entering the 5th-6th play-off, after they claimed victory from a thrilling penalty shootout 15-13 over Canada.

Match reports

Game 17, CANADA 13 - GERMANY 15

(3-1, 1-3, 5-4, 2-3, Penalty Shootout 2-4)
Referees: Meng Anlong; Kazuhiko Makita;
CANADA: Serena Bredin, Joannie Morisseau, Katrina Monton, Alexia Tielmann, Stephanie Valin, Sophie Baron, Joelle Bekhazi (captain), Kelly Blair McKee, Rebekka Steenkamer, Monika Eggens, Carmen Eggens, Dominique Perreault, Emma Wright. Head coach: Justin Oliveira.
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.

Though trailing Canada most of the time from 0-2 to 9-11, Germany showed remarkable endurance and patience when Syefert Bianca shot at 22 seconds in the last quarter to tie 11-11 with Canada. In the penalty shootout, Germany was again behind after missing the first attempt but later scored all their last four shots and won 4-2. Three German girls Tatjana Steinhauer, Claudia Blomenkamp and Monika Kruszona had a triple, while Canadian Sophie Baron was the best scorer of the day, firing a total of six goals while teammate Monika Eggens had four.

Germany's Head coach Rene Reimann, who played for Germany national men's team for 13 years and has been coaching for eight years, was very satisfied with the victory: "It was a big win for us! We entered the Super Final for the first time, and we reach the 5th-6th play-off for the first time, too. I felt proud of my girls! In fact, we boosted confidence before the game and we always believed we could beat the Canadians. Though we had some problems in the attack and defence, the most important thing was that we didn't give up until the last moment."

Justin Oliveira, Head coach of Canada, said about the outcome of the match: "It was upsetting that the game was closed in the shootout. My girls fought well overall during the game, we just lacked some luck in the end. It was a physical game."

GER vs CAN - credit: Han Yuqing

Game 18, RUSSIA 17 - ITALY 4
(4-2, 5-1, 4-0, 4-1)
Referees: Birakis Michail, Daniel Flahive
RUSSIA: Maria Kovtunovskaia, Nadezhda Fedotova, Ekaterina Prokofyeva, Sofya Konukh (captain), Alexandra Antonova, Olga Belova, Ekaterina Lisunova, Marina Kalyagina, Ekaterina Tankeeva, Olga Beliaeva, Evgeniya Ivanova, Diana Antonova, Ksenia Krimer. Head coach: Alexander Kabanov.
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, Francesca Pomeri (captain), Sara Dario. Head coach: Paolo Zizza.

Russia walked out from the defeat to Greece on Friday and left few chances to Italy as they kept slamming shots throughout the four quarters. Ekaterina Lisunova scored four goals for Russia while Italy's Claudia Marletta and captain Francesca Pomeri each had two successful shots.

Russia's Head coach Alexander Kabanov said: "We've recovered from the loss yesterday to Greece. Of course we felt bad when we lost, but the most important is to believe in yourself."

Paola Zizza, Head coach of Italy, said: "We had problems in the defence with the Russians. Our team is young and without experience; that caused many errors. However, it was very good for my team to learn from the rivals."

RUS vs ITA - credit: Han Yuqing

Game 19, CHINA 7 - AUSTRALIA 8

(2-0, 2-3, 2-3, 1-2)
Referees: Denis Danelon, Emanuel Taylan Taylan
CHINA: Yang Jun, Teng Fei, Liu Ping, 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.
AUSTRALIA: Victoria Brown, Gemma Beadswork, Sophie Smith, H. L. Smith, Z. Arancini, Bronwen Knox, Rowena Webster, Kate Gynther (captain), Glencora Rippon, Ashleigh Southen, Melissa Rippon, Nicola Zagame, Alicia McCormack. Head coach: Greg McFadden.

The world runner-up China managed a rapid 2-0 within three minutes in the first quarter and 4-0 at 5:42 in the second before Australia fought back thanks to captain Kate Gynther, who fired two goals at 4:2 while Arancini added one more at 3:40 to trail China 3-4 after the first half. Australia only took the lead at 6:39 in the last quarter as Smith scored for a 7-6 advantage. Chinese captain Ma Huanhuan replied with a penalty goal for 7-7 at 6:20. Australian captain showed her killer instinct at 5:00 by shooting an exclusion goal to seal the victory for the Aussies.

Australia's Head Coach Greg McFadden said: "We had played China for many times and every time it was close by just 1 or 2 goals. It was a hard battle. We were not good at the start, so we were 0-4 behind China. But my girls came out in the second half and had a pretty great defence and attack."

Juan Jane Giralt was satisfied with the team: "It was the best game my girls played so far at this Super Final, much, much better than yesterday when we beat Canada, better than any other matches. All of my girls performed their best, especially the goalkeeper Yang Jun. The reason why we did not keep the leading momentum was because the Australians are physically higher and stronger and that we got tired after and intensive counter attack. We just lost to Australia by such a small margin of one goal, I'm happy with it."

CHN vs AUS - credit: Han Yuqing

Game 20, GREECE 6 - USA 7
(3-2, 2-2, 0-3, 1-0)
Referees: Axel Bender, Dykman Kikhail
GREECE: Kouvdou Eleni, Tsoukala Christina, Kotsia Christina, Psouni Ilektra Maria, Charalampidi Stefania, Alkisti Avramidou, Alexandra Asimaki (captain), Charalampidi Ioanna, Plevritou Eleftheria, Triantaf Manolioudaki, Plevritou Margarita, Koutogianni Stamatina, Diamantopoulou Chrysoula. Head coach: Georgios Morfesis.
USA: Elizabeth Armstrong, Heather Petri, Melissa Seidemann, Brenda Villa (captain), Lauren Wenger, Margaret Steffens, Courtney Mathewson, Jessica Steffens, Elsie Windes, Kelly Rulon, Annika Dries, Kameryn Craig, Tumuaialii Anae. Head coach: Adam Krikorian.

Greece took an early advantage of 5-2 until 5:33 in the second quarter when Kameryn Craig shot for USA at 1:57 and Courtney Mathewson added on at 38 seconds to trace 4-5. Mathewson helped her team tie 5-5 at 5:07 in the third quarter and captain Brenda Villa and Melissa Seidemann earned two goals more at 4:10 and 2:30, respectively. Maria Ilektra's goal for Greece at 1:52 was not good enough to help the Hellenic squad into the final.

Adam Krikorian, USA's Head coach, said: "I'm disappointed with the game. Our players should not under-estimate Greece. They were too relaxed in the first half. We need to be more careful and cautious in tomorrow's final against Australia."

Greece's Head coach Georgios Morfesis said: "We had a close game. I'm happy and proud of my girls. It was too exhausting since we were playing with the best team in the world."

GRE vs USA - credit: Han Yuqing