Perth 2012, Day 9 (Men): Italy world champion after rugged gold-medal final

World Youth Water Polo Championships

Winning ITA - credit: Anthony PearseDecember 9, 2012 PERTH - Italy beat Hungary 10-8 in a spiteful men’s gold-medal match at the FINA World Youth Water Polo Championships at Perth’s Challenge Stadium today. The game erupted into minor violence with 39 major fouls awarded and depleted benches at either end of the pool. About 1200 people witnessed excitement beyond their dreams and stayed for the medal ceremonies and watch the Italian men’s team jump into the water with their track tops and medals around their necks.

Serbia came from behind with two big Ognjen Stojanovic shots to defeat pre-tournament favourite Croatia 8-7 for the bronze medal. In the clash for fifth and sixth, Greece emerged, as expected, with an untroubled 14-5 decision over Romania. The Romanians had just played two hard matches in a row and could not produce anything of note in the second half where Greece led 7-4. Australia proved to be the best team outside Europe, leading 3-0 against the United States of America, winning 5-4 after needing two go-ahead goals in fourth quarter of the classification for seventh. It was Australia’s fifth win of a hectic week.

Day 9 Match Reports


Classification 7-8
Quarters: 1-0, 1-0, 1-1, 2-3,
Referees: Andrej Franulovic (CRO), Hatem Gaber (EGY)
Extra Man: AUS 2/9, USA 1/9
Pens: Nil
AUSTRALIA: Anthony Hrysanthos, Blake Buckley (1), Davis Verboon, William Mackay, Luke Pavillard, Matthew Perrott (1), Matthew Skinner, Lachlan Edwards, Gordon Marshall (2), Justin Trabinger, Reed Cotterill, Ciaran Wolohan (1), Sam Cocokios. Head Coach: Chris Wybrow.
USA: Garrett Danner, Adam Abdilhamid, Reid Chase, Matthew Farmer, Patrick (Jack) Fellner (1), Kent Inoue (1), Max Irving, Chandler Jarrels Stickney (1), Chancellor Ramirez, Ryder Roberts (1), Connor Stapleton, Alec Zwaneveld, Kevin Levine. Head Coach: Jason Lynch.

AUS vs USA - credit: Anthony Pearse

Australia held off a late fightback from the United States of America to claim seventh position at the tournament with a nail-biting 5-4 win. It was a tight opening term with neither team able to gain the ascendancy. Goalkeepers Anthony Hrysanthos (AUS) and Garrett Danner (USA) stood tall as they combined with their centre backs to reduce the flow of goals.

Ciaran Wolohan (AUS) finally opening the scoring at the two-minute mark, courtesy of some sharp interchange passing with Luke Pavillard at the top of the five metres. The stalemate continued in the second with both teams unable to find their consistency. The nine consecutive days of intense water polo had seemed to taken its toll on the players.

Wolohan once again provided Australia’s best avenue to goal, combining perfectly with captain Matthew Perrott on the right for the Aussie number six to slot home from two metres. Australia built on its 2-0 halftime advantage with Blake Buckley converting another expertly taken lob – a mirror image of the one he scored against Greece on Saturday – to give Australia the 3-0 lead.

Defence was a hallmark of Australia’s play – as Hrysanthos dominated in the cage to deny the USA a goal until the four-minute mark of the third quarter. Ryder Roberts (USA) opened his team’s account with a right-arm rocket from the right to make it 3-1 at the last break. Both centre forwards had little impact to that point with all four goals coming from the outside shooters and drivers.

USA pegged back the margin early in the fourth through Patrick Fellner to make it a one-goal ball game. Kent Inoue then drove home from seven metres to complete his team’s comeback from 3-0 down. Gordon Marshall then burst into the game with a late double to counteract Chandler Jarrels-Stickney’s centre-forward conversion on 1:54 to make it 5-4.

USA had one final chance to equalise but Hrysanthos again proved to be the hero swimming away with possession to give the Aussies their fifth win of the tournament. Buckley said it was great to finally post that “big-game” victory and said it had been a fantastic experience to play at a world championship level.

“It’s good to get a win in that last game to finish seventh and we did fight hard throughout the tournament, and the hard work actually did pay off in the end,” Buckley said.

“Hungary was probably the only game that we took a backwards step as you can’t take anything away from our game against Greece. We got the positive out of that game and we ended up with the goods today.”

Game 70: 11:20,GREECE 14 ROMANIA 5
Classification 5-6
Quarters: 3-1, 4-3, 3-0, 2-1
Referees: Joseph Peila (USA), Keiichi Onkasa (JPN)
Extra Man: GRE 2/8, ROU 1/6
Pens: GRE 1/1, ROU 0/1
GREECE: Nikitas Paraskevopoulos, Michail Kazazis, Spyridon Fotopoulos (1), Emmanouil Prekas, Chrysovalantis Chrysospathis (1), Konstantinos Gouvis (1), Georgios Dervisis (3), Evangelos Potamianos (1), Marios Chatzigoulas (3), Nikolaos Alvertis (2), Panteleimon Kalogerakos, Emmanouil Solanakis (2), Alexandros Koumis. Head Coach: Athanasios Kechagias.
ROMANIA: Marius Tic, Mihnea Gheorghe (1), Andrei Prioteasa, Robert Gergelyfi (1), Catalin Alexa (1), Alexandru Sfarle, Vlad Dragomirescu, Cristian Calin, Bogdan Paleacu, Andrei Laza (2), Levente Vancsik, Tudor Neagu, David Sacui. Head Coach: Viorel Rus.

GRE vs ROU - credit: Anthony Pearse

Greece, potentially one of the best men’s teams in Perth, rightfully swept to fifth place with a near second-half shutout of Romania and a 14-5 scoreline at Challenge Stadium on Sunday. Greece had the superiority at centre forward and by far the better defence. By the third period Romania, who had two huge matches in the preceding days, ran out of puff and would have to be content with sixth position, equal to its best at world junior level from 1993.

Greece recovered from a slow start, stunned by Catalin Alexa’s 8m arrow in the first attack. The recovery, however, did not come until after five minutes when Marios Chatzigoulas scored off a long swim. Konstantinos Gouvis converted a penalty and Georgios Dervisis took the score to 3-1 from the deep-left position.

Romania made a resurgence in the second quarter, scoring three goals to Greece’s one in the middle stages, but Greece had earlier edged out to 4-1 and scored the last two for a 7-4 halftime advantage. Chatzigoulas opened the second quarter with a long, low lob from the point position.

The Romanian assault started when Andrei Laza scored from long range; Robert Gergelyfi converted extra-man attack and Mihnea Gheorghe, from 7m, brought Romania to within one goal.

Powerful centre forward Emmanouil Solanakis shovelled the ball in off a nearly uncontrollable cross-pass on the goal line for 6-4 and Chatzigoulas netted his third on counter attack for a Greece lead of 7-4 at halftime. The excitement went out of the match in the third period as Romania struggled with getting the ball to the right person on attack and felt the wrath of the referee on defence.

Greece converted three extra-man chances and threw in consecutive counter-attack scores for good measure for an unbeatable 12-4 margin at the final break. Georgios Dervisis brought up his second of the match and 20th of the tournament at 9-4 on counter. The fourth quarter finished 2-1 Greece’s way but could have been 2-2 if Romania’s Laza had not hit the left upright six seconds from full time. Dervisis scored the last Greek goal for his 21st of the tournament.

As Greece has a proud record at world junior level with gold from 2001, two silvers and two bronzes, Dervisis said he was happy with his team’s performance but would have liked to have finished higher. “We are very happy because we are fifth, although we wanted to be higher.”

Andrei Laza (ROU) said he was happy with the intensity of the game, but thought his team could have played better.

“It was a tough game, we didn’t give our best. We didn’t start off how we wanted to and we were too relaxed in the game. But we are happy that we are sixth. Overall, the tournament was good for my team and good for myself. Perth is great; great city, special people.”

Game 71: 12:40, SERBIA 8 CROATIA 7
Classification 3-4 (Bronze Medal)
Quarters: 0-2, 1-0, 4-4, 3-1
Referees:  Gabor Vogel (HUN), Michail Birakis (GRE)
Extra Man: SRB
Pens: CRO 3/3
SERBIA: Milan Vitorovic, Mateja Asanovic, Milos Maksimovic (1), Drasko Gogov, Nikola Radulovic, Stefan Ilic, Dusan Mandic (1), Marko Manojlovic, Dimitrije Obradovic, Dorde Tanaskovic (2), Ognjen Stojanovic (3), Nikola Jaksic (1), Lazar Dobozanov. Head Coach: Dejan Savic.
CROATIA: Ivan Marcelic, Luka Bukic (1), Lovre Milos, Andro Gagulic, Slavko Calic (2), Marino Cagalj, Luka Lozina (1), Antonio Buha, Antun Goreta (3), Marino Divkovic, Andrija Basic, Ivan Zivkovic , Deni Saric. Head Coach: Hrvoje Hrestak.

SRB vs CRO - credit: Anthony Pearse

Serbia won the bronze medal in the men’s competition after coming from three goals down to defeat Croatia 8-7 in a thrilling decider. The two Adriatic neighbours arrived in the bronze medal game after losing semi finals to Hungary and Italy respectively.

It was 2-0 at quarter time with the extra-man statistics illustrating the difference between the two sides – Croatia scored twice (Slavko Calic and Luka Lozina) from their three chances, Serbia none from three. Dorde Tanaskovic, who had been doing some mighty work for Serbia at centre-back, finally got his team on the board with an extra-man strike from the left corner three minutes into the second period to make it 2-1 to Croatia – a score that stood at halftime.

Croatia’s leading scorer this tournament, Antun Goreta, converted in extra man and then with a thunderbolt of a penalty inside the first 90 seconds of the third term to put his side up by three. Ognjen Stojanovic responded in Serbia’s next six on five opportunity, before teammate Nikola Jaksic made no mistake with his extra-man chance to bring the Serbs back to within a goal at 3-4.

A minute later Croatia’s Calic snared his second in extra man and when Luka Bukic, the Croatian prodigy, whose father Perica Bukic won Olympic gold for Yugoslavia at the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Games, drilled a penalty shot with 2:21 left in the quarter the lead was back out to three.

But Serbia would not lie down, Tanaskovic and Milos Maksimovic both nailing extra-man goals before the break for a three quarter time scoreline of 6-5 to Croatia. Serbia’s Dusan Mandic, the only player at this 18 and under tournament who represented his country at this year’s London Olympic Games, outlined his obvious class and opened the scoring in the fourth term with a stunning backhand shot after being awarded a foul nine metres out and wide to the right. At that point it was back to all square.

The game kept flowing from end to end at a frantic pace but when Serbian goalkeeper Milan Vitorovic committed a professional foul Goreta pounded home the penalty to retake the lead, 7-6. But the hero became Stojanovic. He scored the next two goals – the first in extra-man and the second an action goal from 9m  – and Serbia had their first lead of the game, 8-7, with just 1:24 left on the clock.

Both teams took time outs in the final minute of the game but neither were able to add to their total and the Serbs had the bronze after trailing by three early in the third quarter. Stojanovic, who top scored for Serbia today with three and who had already netted 15 this week, said he was very happy for his team.

“I’m feeling great, yesterday we were so sad, today is a miracle,” Stojanovic said. “Croatia played good, they were tough, but we were better. “I’m going to hug my team, this is amazing because they are mine, we are so happy with bronze.”

Game 72: 17:00, HUNGARY 8 ITALY 10
Classification 1-2 (Gold Medal)
Quarters: 4-3, 1-3, 1-1, 2-3
Referees: Adrian Alexandrescu (ROU), Matan Schwarts (ISR)
Extra Man: HUN 1/17, ITA 3/20
Pens: ITA 1/1
HUNGARY: Mihaly Peterfy, Daniel Santa, Szilard Jansik, Tamas Sedlmayer, Jozsef Berta, Krisztian Manhercz (2), Gergo Zalanki, Tamas Gyarfas, Balint Lorincz (1), Bendeguz Szabo (2), Andras Telegdy, Toni Nemet (3), David Gyorgy. Head Coach: Gyorgy Horkai.
ITALY: Leonardo Cavo, Umberto Espositio (1), Gianluigi Foglio, Federico Foti, Andrea Fondelli (1), Jacopo Alesiani, Vincenzo Dolce, Lorenzo Bruni (1), Allessandro Velotto (2), Tommaso Busilacchi (1), Luca Cupido (4), Nicola Cuccovillo, Fabio Viola. Head Coach: Amedeo Pomilio.

Men's team Italy World Youth champions - credit: Anthony Pearse

Italy won a gold-medal men’s final 10-8 that lasted way beyond the one-hour mark but inside four periods of action that left a battlefield of casualties, a happy winner and a bitterly disappointed Hungary. It was the finale of the FINA World Youth Water Polo Championships at Perth’s Challenge Stadium and both teams came to battle for gold. It was a battle and the towering foul count marred what was a high-class, quality match against the best two 18 & under teams on the planet.

The packed stadium of more than 1200 people witnessed a classic game against old foes, but Italy went from 4-3 down at the quarter to 6-5 ahead at halftime and 7-6 up at the final break to dominate what was a spiteful match dominated by the whistle.

Italian Head coach Amedeo Pomilio said he was proud of the way his team fought throughout the tournament and praised their ability to hold strong when it mattered the most.

“I am very, very happy. It was a very difficult tournament, a very difficult final. They played it so very well, they overcame the mental difficulties. I was impressed with them for fighting very hard. We were able to grow during the match,” Pomilio said.

“Hungary is a very strong team, they are very technical. We have trained with them, so we consider them friends.”

Four goal hero Luca Cupido was the star of the game bagging four sensational goals and told reporters he was very happy with the win and praised the Hungarians for producing such a strong contest. “I feel fantastic, wonderful. We have worked hard to win a world championship.”

“Hungary is a great team, we trained against them before the championships, so we know they are a tough team to beat, but we are so happy we beat them.”

Both teams played solidly in the opening quarter with Italy going ahead 3-2 at 2:19 only to watch as Hungary snared a penalty goal followed by the easiest of unattended outside shots for a 4-3 advantage by the first break. The seven goals came off seven different hands.

Neither team gained any success in the first part of the second quarter.  Pomilio went for a timeout to shape his team’s attack on extra man.  It didn’t work, but did spur on Hungary to drive and have big man Toni Nemet score from seven metres while heavily guarded for his 12th goal of the tournament and a 5-3 lead.

Then it was the turn of Italy to play on the big stage with Cupido scoring twice from the top — for his third — to level at 5-5 for what could have been an excellent and fair halftime result. 

However, Italian star Andrea Fondelli fired off an arrow shot from halfway at the side of the pool, perfectly judging the flight for Lorenzo Bruni at two metres to rise and drag the ball backwards into goal for a 6-5 lead with just one seconds on the clock.

The third period erupted into chaos almost as the capacity crowd roared and cheered on teams. Hungary twice was left with five players in the pool and twice it thwarted the attempts of Italy to score.

The second double overlap came after Tamas Sedlmayer was red-carded for attacking the face of his opponent. Team-mate Szilard Jansik protested the decision from the bench and for his outburst he was red-carded as well. The Hungarian bench was emptying faster than passengers on a sinking ship. Earlier Andras Telegdy gained his third major foul. If the third quarter was an eruption then the fourth usurped the Richter scale.

Hungarian legend Gyorgy Horkai, his team’s head coach, called a timeout at the start of the final quarter but had no joy with a score. On the next attack Cupido shot and Umberto Espositio snapped in the rebound. There was another clash and Tommaso Busilacchi (ITA) was red-carded, joining a long line of athletes watching from anywhere other than the bench. Pomilio was then yellow-carded.

At 1:40, Szabo pulled one back for Hungary for 8-7 at a time when nine players were benched. A sixth Hungarian gained his marching orders and Fondelli gained his first of the game and 22nd of the tournament for 9-7 at 1:08. It wasn’t over, though. Hungary had a staffing issue to address.

Horkai called for his second goalkeeper to enter the play because he only had seven players on active service.  David Gyorgy swapped his red No 13 cap for a white 13 and Mihaly Peterfy entered the fray in his No 1 red cap. On the ensuing attack, the by-now tournament’s most valuable player, Toni Nemet, converted extra for a deficit of one — 9-8.

Italy attacked and nearly used its time but Cupido aimed for a foul and quick 5m shot, which he pulled off, finding the back of the net for 10-8 at 0:23. Horkai was furious, kicking the hoarding and waving his arms.

He called a timeout and on the resulting play the ball was spun high across the pool but Hungary was called for being offside and that left Italy to waste the last 15 seconds while the Hungarians were protesting the call. A bad taste was left is people’s mouths as 39 major fouls were called, two more than the final game on Saturday night.

Nemet, who indicated he will be a name to remember in the future, said was disappointed with the overall result but was still happy with the hype of the game.

“It was a great atmosphere, it was very hectic and we had a lot of problems with the referees. There was not enough service, they were not prepared for this game, the refs gave a lot of red cards and we were a little bit shocked,” Nemet said. “We couldn’t grab the ball, that was the problem, and we had lost I think five players.

“The best part of the game was when there were only five of us left in the water. It was a great atmosphere and nothing like that has happened in a world championship finals before. Never! So this was the best tournament I have ever been to in my life. It was very good and well organised."

Leading scorers

Kirill Rustamov (UZB) - 37
Russell Ferreira (TRI) - 22
Andrea Fondelli (ITA) - 22
Georgios Dervisis (GRE) - 21
Hamed Khanbanan (IRI) - 21
Gabriel Salgado (BRA) - 20
Drasko Gogov (SRB) - 19
Antun Goreta (CRO) - 19
Mihnea Gheorghe (ROU) - 18
Ognjen Stojanovic (SRB) - 18
Henrique Vasconcelo (BRA) - 17
Milos Maksimovic (SRB) - 17
Luca Cupido (ITA) - 16
Mathew Lewis (NZL) - 15
Pedro Stellet (BRA) - 15
Luca Bukic (CRO) - 15
Mahmoud Gholamnejad (IRI) - 14
William Jaramillo (COL) - 14
Daniel Kayes (NZL) - 14
David Lapins (CAN) - 14
Toni Nemet (HUN) - 14
Juan Pablo Padilla (COL) - 14
Ryder Roberts (USA) - 14
Pedro Vergara (BRA) - 14
Adam Abdulhamid (USA) - 13
Gordon Marshall (AUS) - 13
Chandler Jarrels-Stickney (USA) - 13
Alessandro Velotto (ITA) - 13
Chrys Chrysospathis (GRE) - 13