Super Final 2012 (Women): USA claims seventh World League title

World League

CHINA, Changshu (June 3) - In an exciting final, defending champion United States rallied to beat Australia 6-4 to win their seventh title at the FINA Women's Water Polo World League Super Final here on Sunday while Greece edged host China 8-7 for the bronze medal.

Match reports

Final: AUSTRALIA 4 - UNITED STATES 6

(1-2, 3-1, 0-1, 0-2)
Referees: Emanuel Taylan, Axel Bender
Teams:
AUSTRALIA: Victoria Brown, Gemma Beadswork, Sophie Smith, H. L. Smith, J. Moran, Bronwen Knox, Rowena Webster, Kate Gynther (captain), G. Ralph, Ashleigh Southen, Melissa Rippon, Z. Arancini, Alicia McCormack. Head coach: Greg McFadden.
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.

In a well-balanced defensive and offensive final, both USA and Australia showed superb individual skills and teamwork. Australia led 4-3 in the first half but USA blocked every attempt from the Aussies during the second half and netted three times. USA captain Brenda Villa shot an exclusion goal at 1:05 in the third quarter, Annika Dries added one for a 5-4 lead while Margaret Steffens sealed the victory 6-4 at 1:33 in the last quarter. Australian Bronwen Knox opened the gate at 5:41 in the first quarter and G. Ralph, Gemma Beadsworth and Sophie Smith fired in the second at 2:28, 0:45, 0:01, respectively."We played a great second half, especially in the fourth quarter by scoring two goals, which made the difference of the game. I should say this trophy is a good start for the London Olympics. But we understand that this means nothing when we go to the Olympic Games because all teams start from zero," said Adam Krikorian, U.S. team Head coach.

Australian Head coach Greg McFadden said on the loss: "It was a pretty physical and hard game. We had a good start, but we have to settle for the margin of two goals. Congratulations to USA. And congratulations to my team. I hope we have better luck at the London Olympic Games."

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AUS vs USA - credit: Han Yuqing


Bronze-medal match: CHINA 7 - GREECE 8

(1-2, 4-2, 1-2, 1-2)
Referees: Cristina Taccini, Daniel Flahive
Teams:
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.
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.

World champions Greece, whose squad went to a rebuilding phase after last year's Worlds, came from behind in the first half to edge world number 2 China 8-7. Avramidou Alkisti's goal at 6:05 and Christina Tsoukala's vital exclusion goal at 3:28 in the fourth quarter helped Greece reach the precious third spot. China just repeated the same feat when they lost to Australia in the semi-finals on June 2.

"It was an unexpected medal. My players are young and inexperienced, but they've made improvement at every game of this Super Final. We played a clever game as we quickly reacted when China had some changes in the defence in the second quarter. I'm proud of my team," said Greece Head coach Georgios Morfesis. 

China's Head coach Juan Jane Giralt was unhappy with the game outcome: "We played a good start, but our defence had problems in the second half. I'm not happy with that at all."

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CHN vs GRE - credit: Han Yuqing


5th-6th place match: GERMANY 4 - RUSSIA 18

(1-1, 2-4, 0-7, 1-6)
Referees: Drury-Pinto Amerber Marie, Dykman Mikhail
Teams:
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.
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.

As the first-time attendants at the Super Final, Germany had an ideal first half 3-5, trailing Russia with just a two-goal difference. But Russia quickly recovered, scoring seven goals thanks to Nadezhda Fedotova, Olga Belova and Ekaterina Tankeeva's double, plus another shot by Ekaterina Lisunova in the third quarter, all while blocking Germany's every attempt. Germany fought until 0:01 when Claudia Blomenkamp scored her fourth shot while Russia's Alexandra Anotonova made a triple and three other teammates increased Russia's lead in the last quarter. Alexandra Anotonova was the best scorer of the day as she fired another triple in the second period for a total of six.

Russia's Head coach Alexander Kabanov said: "Our attack and defence only started to work in the second half, we were too slow in the beginning."

Germany's team manager Heike Kohnen-Khalil said: "We tried to play as fast as possible in the first two periods. But later we lost our minds and didn't know clearly what we needed to do next. We tried to defend the ball but Russia was too fast. It was a hard game, especially after the hard battle over Canada yesterday. We are very happy that our federation let us to play this Super Final, thus gaining a better knowledge of the other water polo teams."

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GER vs RUS - credit: Han Yuqing

7th-8th place match: CANADA 12 - ITALY 8
(2-2, 5-2, 3-2, 2-2)
Referees: Dreval Svetlana, Meng Anlong
Teams:
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.
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.

Italy had an even attack capacity during the whole game by scoring two goals in each quarter while Canada stormed in the middle with five goals in the second period and three in the third. Sophie Baron and captain Joelle Bekhazi's triple helped secure Canada's victory for seventh place.

Canada's Head coach Justin Oliveira said of the victory: "Our team fought very well today. We tried to play hard as we shot the balls very well."

Italy's Head coach Paolo Zizza considered post-game: "Good game for us today. Our defence and attack were better than we did in the previous matches."

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CAN vs ITA - credit: Han Yuqing