Super Final 2013 (Women): Euro teams prove their worth on day two

World League

BEIJING, China (June 2) - European teams Spain, Hungary and Italy had one-goal victories on day two of the FINA Women’s Water Polo World League Super Final at the Water Cube in Beijing. It was the second day that three games went to the wire, but there were no penalty shootouts, although the last game of the night came within three seconds of doing so.

In Group A, after Olympic champion United States of America sent off Russia 13-9, Hungary had to come from behind to beat China 14-13 with a 5-3 final quarter. Gabriella SZUCS scored the winning goal 16 seconds from time. It was Hungary’s second win in regulation time while for the USA it was the first, having lost to China on penalties the night before.

In Group B, Olympic silver medallist Spain gained a second win after dispensing with Olympic bronze medallist Australia 10-9 after the Aussie Stingers led 8-7 at the final break. Try as it might, Australia brought the margin back to one goal inside the final 100 seconds, but could not force a shootout.

In the night’s final game Canada went five up against Italy only to see the lead whittled and then decimated with a minute to go. The winning goal came from Giulia EMMOLO with three seconds remaining in a foul-marred game where Roberta BIANCONI scored six goals — including five consecutive for her team in the second half — and Canada’s Joelle BEKHAZI netted five.

On day three, Hungary and USA will settle the Group A supremacy, while one-win China will be hoping to beat winless Russia. In Group B, undefeated Spain must be fancied over winless Canada while Australia and Italy, both on three points, will fight for what could be second place.

Match reports:

Match 5: 15:00, Group A, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 13 RUSSIA 9
Quarters: 5-2, 4-2, 3-1, 1-4
Referees: Marie-Claude DESLIERES (CAN), Massimo SAVARESE (ITA)
Extra Man: USA: 4/6. RUS: 3/10
Pens: USA: 1/1

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elizabeth ARMSTRONG, Lauren SILVER, Melissa SEIDEMANN (1), Danielle WARDE, Caroline CLARK, Margaret STEFFENS (2), Courtney MATHEWSON (3), Kiley NEUSHAL (2), Jillian KRAUS (1), Kelly RULON (1), Annika DRIES (1), Kameryn CRAIG (2), Tumuaialii ANAE. Head Coach: Adam KRIKORIAN.
RUSSIA: Anna USTYUKHINA, Diana ANTONOVA, Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA, Elvina KARIMOVA, Alexandra ANTONOVA (1), Olga BELOVA (2), Ekaterina LISUNOVA (3), Anna GRINEVA, Anna TIMOFEEVA, Olga BELIAEVA (2), Evgeniya IVANOVA (1), Ksenia KRIMER, Anna KARNAUKH. Head Coach: Mikhail NAKORYAKOV.

USA bounced back from its surprise sudden-death penalty shootout loss to China on day one, by recording an emphatic score. The pressure was on Russia from the start as USA scored early on each attack, preferring to change the scoreboard as often as possible. The mistakes were fewer than day one and the team looked far more cohesive. The desperation of the first game was replaced by determination.

Kami CRAIG (extra), Maggie STEFFENS (penalty and Kelly RULON (10m lob) gave USA the impetus it required. Russia was working hard and was rewarded with consecutive goals through Alexandra ANTONOVA and Ekaterina LISUNOVA. The second goal was an excellent counter attack where Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA flicked the ball left for LISUNOVA to finish. At 0:55, the quarter was not over, for USA at least. STEFFENS scored from the deep left at 0:42 and Melissa SEIDEMANN shoveled in a centre-forward goal with 11 seconds left on the clock.

The second quarter was just as frenetic with Courtney MATHEWSON starting her good run off a cross pass. CRAIG grabbed a second at centre forward and USA was 7-2 up. Olga BELIAEVA scored a deflected shot on extra but MATHEWSON and Kiley NEUSHAL took the margin to 9-3. Russian head coach Mikhail NAKORYAKOV, who tasted golden success with the Russian youth team in the 2009 FINA Youth World Championships in Siberia, called a timeout late in the period and Olga BELOVA scored on extra for 9-4.

MATHEWSON opened the third period from centre forward but nearly halfway through. Russia took a second timeout and LISUNOVA scored, but after the exclusion period. Jillian KRAUS scored her first goal of the tournament on extra from deep left and NEUSHAL cleaned up some scrappy ball with a snap backhand from 3m for 12-5 at 1:44, the final score of the period.

It was all Russia in the final quarter, lifting its game as USA took the foot off the pedal. BELOVA (one on one) and BELIAEVA  (centre forward)  took the score to 12-7 inside four minutes. Evgeniya IVANOVA scored from 9m before DRIES responded at centre forward. LISUNOVA accepted a cross pass when she had inside water to score the final goal for 13-9, scoring that Russia will be a force this year. USA had the game, however, looking sharp and in control at all times.

USA vs RUS - credit: Russell McKinnon


Adam KRIKORIAN (USA) — Head Coach
“It was better than yesterday, defensively especially. We relaxed a little bit in the fourth quarter. Russia is so fast and they can score so quickly so next time we will have to be careful. We created faster goals and were more aggressive (than against China) and were less hesitant. We were very passive yesterday.”

Erkin SHAGAEV (AUS) — Russia adviser and 1980 Olympic champion for USSR
“It’s a new Olympic cycle with a new head coach and their first major tournament. Obviously, it’s not the game exactly to script but, no dramas, we will improve, gain experience and learn every situation they find themselves in. The final quarter was close to how the head coach wants to play. We kept going.”

Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (RUS) — Athlete
“The first half we allowed them a large margin. They were stronger today. That was a bit of a surprise to us. We still wanted to show the Russian fighting spirit and to keep going to the end of the match. However, we were not satisfied with the result.”

Match 6: 16:20, Group B, SPAIN 10 AUSTRALIA 9
Quarters: 2-2, 4-3, 1-3, 3-1
Referees: Maro SAVINOVIC (CRO), Edmundo RODRIGUES (BRA)
Extra Man: ESP: 5/10. AUS: 4/6
Pens: ESP: 2/2. AUS 1/1

SPAIN: Laura ESTER, Marta BACH, Anna ESPAR (4), Roser TARRAGO (1), Matilda ORTIZ, Jennifer PAREJA, (2) Lorena MIRANDA, Pilar PENA, Andrea BLAS, One MESEGUER, Maica GARCIA (3), Laura LOPEZ, Patricia HERRERA. Head Coach: Miguel OCA.
AUSTRALIA: Lea BARTA, Jayde APPEL, Hannah BUCKLING, Holly LINCOLN-SMITH, Isobel BISHOP, Bronwen KNOX (2), Rowena WEBSTER (3), Glencora RALPH (2), Zoe ARANCINI, Ashleigh SOUTHERN, Keesja GOFERS, Nicola ZAGAME (2), Kelsey WAKEFIELD. Head Coach: Greg McFADDEN.

Spain made it two from two, having to come back from 8-7 down at the final break to score three consecutive goals and hold out a late-charging Australia.

Goals were traded in the first quarter with Spain netting first throw Lorena MIRANDA on extra. Glencora RALPH responded on counter, while Spanish captain Jennifer PAREJA converted a penalty. Rowena WEBSTER converted extra for 2-2 at 3:35, the final goal of the period.

Nicola ZAGAME sent Australia ahead from the top, but Anna ESPAR levelled on extra. RALPH gained her second with a penalty for a second Australian lead. Spain struck back with a vengeance through two ESPAR goals either side of a PAREJA penalty for a 6-4 advantage. Australia responded through a fast series of passes that reached captain Bronwen KNOX on the hand in centre forward. She turned and scored with two second left to trail 6-5.

Roser TARRAGO opened the third period for Spain from the top for 7-5. Two and a half minutes later WEBSTER scored from deep left and after an Australian timeout, KNOX converted extra-man attack for 7-7, scoring a donut over the goalkeeper’s head from point blank range. WEBSTER gave the Aussie Stingers an 8-7 lead at 1:46 to close the period’s scoring.

Spain used a timeout to score but it came three seconds after the exclusion time. No matter, It was the 8-8 leveller from Carmen GARCIA. ESPAR grabbed her fourth — the first person to do so in a single match — with a bouncer from 6m. GARCIA netted a second two minutes after her first for 10-8, on extra at 3:11. Australia called a second timeout at 1:53 and ZAGAME scored under the goalkeeper’s right arm for 10-9 at 1:37. Both teams tried desperately to score, but could not and Spain had a second win.

AUS vs ESP - credit: Russell McKinnon


Greg McFADDEN (AUS) — Head Coach
“We were up (when referring to 8-7 ahead before Spain scored three straight for 10-8), It was dumb play and you don’t know what the referees will call. It makes it tougher for us and we have to work harder. We want to win the tournament.”

Nicola ZAGAME (AUS) — two-goal scorer
“We were one for one for most of the match. We had to come back and go in front. They scored a few in the final quarter and we couldn’t get it back. Our team was a little bit frantic and we communicated too much. We didn’t know who should do what. We will be clear and precise in future games.”

Miguel OCA (ESP) — Head Coach
“It was a good victory against Australia, one of the biggest teams in the world. We must keep it up (referring to a second win). We had to move fast against Australia, especially in defence. We player very calm on attack. We needed to do that because we know Australia is very fast on contra.”

Maica GARCIA (ESP) — three goals
“We concentrated in this game. It was very difficult, but we were intelligent and calm in our attack. It’s OK to have two victories, but we are taking (this tournament) by degrees and we have to just keep our feet on the ground.”

Match 7: 17:40, Group A, HUNGARY 14 CHINA 13
Quarters: 4-3, 4-4, 1-3, 5-3
Referees: Jaume TEIXIDO (ESP), Kunihiro MAKIHASHI (JPN)
Extra Man: HUN: 3/6. CHN: 8/14
Pens: CHN: 1/1

HUNGARY: Orsolya KASO, Anna ILLES, Dora ANTAL (1), Ibolya MISKOLCZI, Gabriella SZUCS (3), Orsolya TAKACS (2), Brigitta HORVATH (1), Rita KESZTHELYI (1), Ildiko TOTH (1), Barbara BUJKA (3), Krisztina GARDA, Kata MENCZINGER (2), Edina GANGL. Head Coach: Andras MERESZ.
CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei (1), LIU Ping (3), SUN Yujun (2), HE Jin (1), SUN Yating (1), SONG Donglun (1), ZHU Yajing (1), MEI Xiaohan, MA Huanhuan (2), ZHANG Cong (1), ZHANG Lei, WANG Ying. Head Coach: Alexander KLEYMENOV.

Hungary squandered a 7-4 lead midway through the second quarter and lost the lead midway through the third to China. Hungary had to level three more times before grabbing back the ascendancy three times in the final quarter with the winning goal from Gabriella SZUCS 16 seconds from full time.

The first four goals were traded with Gabriella SZUCS starting the momentum for Hungary. LIU Ping, Barbara BUJKA and MA Huanhuan from the penalty line, had the game at 2-2 and the 2000-strong crowd was happy. Even happier when SUN Yating scored at centre forward but not happy when Brigitta HORVATH and SZUCS gave Hungary a 4-3 lead at the quarter break. The last came from 8m with 14 seconds left.

Dora ANTAL and BUJKA at centre forward had the game well and truly the way of the Europeans at 6-3. TENG Fei on extra and Rita KESZTHELYI on a cross pass, had the game at 7-4. LIU scored a second and it was halfway through the quarter. International newcomer ZHU Yajing scored from the top on extra and another debutante, ZHANG Cong, scored off a rebound for 7-7 at 1:38. Half a minute later, Kata MENCZINGER gave Hungary the halftime lead at 8-7 on extra.

The game swung China’s way in the third period when LIU with her third and HE Jin on extra made it 9-8. Hungarian captain Orsolya TAKACS levelled from 7m, but SUN Yujun made up for missing her first shot on the attack by scoring her second attempt for 10-9 at 1:47.

Hungary caught up quickly in the final quarter through BUJKA, 18 seconds into the final quarter. SONG Donglun converted extra-man attack and TAKACS replied for the third goal in less than a minute. One and a half minutes later Ildiko TOTH was smothered at centre forward but backhanded in a goal for 12-11. MA, the best player at the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, scored from the top for 12-12, thrilling the crowd. China went to a timeout at 4:36, but not on extra. Tensions mounted and China hit the upright on extra. Hungary also had trouble penetrating WANG Ying’s goalkeeping defence. China again hit the left upright on extra. With no goal for two and a half minutes, probably the most miserly of the match, Hungary went to a timeout. Hungary earned an exclusion and MENCZINGER took her team ahead at 2:00. SUN Yating scored on extra at 1:37 and the 13-13 score made the finish exciting. Both teams lost the ball on attack and then Hungary struggled to get another shot away. It was left to SZUCS to send in a shot from 9m, which she did for 14-13 at 0:16. China had a timeout. MA had the last shot on foul and was fouled but the game ended with Hungary on top.

HUN vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Andras MERESZ (HUN) — Head Coach
“The third period we were in deep ‘Wally’, but we showed we could get up in the game. It was a very difficult period (won 3-1 by China) and some players who did not play well in that quarter played better in the fourth. It showed spirit to win the game, which is very important.”

Gabriella SZUCS (Hun) — winning goal-scorer
“It was a very important goal and I was very happy I scored it for my team. It was a close game and I am happy we could play the whole game (to a high level). The first part and the end part were the best for us. We could play what we wanted. Our goalkeeper (KASO) played very well, as did the defenders. China is very strong and pressed, too. However, we played for us more, not one on one. We had teamwork. This was the most important thing.”

Match 8: 19:00, Group B, CANADA 17 ITALY 18
Quarters: 5-2, 6-6, 2-4, 4-6
Referees: Balasz FEKETE (HUN), MENG Anlong (CHN)
Extra Man:  CAN: 3/6. ITA 11/16
Pens: CAN: 2/3. ITA: 2/2

CANADA: Michele RELTON, Krystina ALOGBO, Katrina MONTON (1), Emma WRIGHT (3), Monika EGGENS (2), Joelle BEKHAZI (5), Sophie BARON LA SALLE (3), Dominique PERRAULT (3), Carmen EGGENS, Christine ROBINSON, Stephanie VALIN, Marina RADU, Nicola COLTERJOHN. Head Coach: Guy BAKER.
ITALY: Elena GIGLI, Francesca POMERI, Arianna GARIBOTTI (4), Federica RADICCHI (1), Elisa QUEIROLO (1), Rosaria AIELLO, Tania DI MARIO (3), Roberta BIANCONI (6), Giulia EMMOLO (1), Valeria PALMIERI (1), Aleksandra COTTI (1), Teresa FRASSINETTI, Giulia GORLERO. Head Coach: Fabio CONTI.

Canada was beaten by the mounting foul count after leading 11-6 late in the second quarter. With a staggering 16 fouls against, Italy converted an amazing 11 while Canada could muster just three goals from six attempts. The foul count was the difference in the match, a match Canada should have won and had the chances to do so.

Canada started the scoring through Joelle BEKHAZI and she could have made it 2-1 but had her penalty attempt blocked by Eleni GIGLI, the 2004 Olympic champion. Emma WRIGHT with a slider and Dominique PERRAULT had Canada 3-1 up with Federica RADICCHI the only thorn, scoring on extra for Italy. Aleksandra COTTI pulled another back, but PERRAULT and Sophie BARRON LA SALLE, from the top, gave Canada comfortable 5-2, quarter-time margin.

BEKHAZI scored her second penalty attempt at the top of the second period and Katrina MONTON hit the scorer’s sheet with a goal in between two Arianna GARIBOTTI strikes for 7-4. WRIGHT scored a pair for 9-4. Giulia EMMOLO, BARON LA SALLE and Roberta BIANCONI, with a big lob, traded goals for 10-6. The frenetic pace of the period saw BEKHAZI drill her third goal for 11-6 with two minutes left in the half. Italy stepped up and Tania DI MARIO, another survivor from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, narrowed the score. GARIBOTTI converted a penalty attempt in the last five seconds and Italy had become a viable opponent at 11-8.

Neither side could breach the defence in the third so Italian head coach Fabio CONTI called a timeout on extra at 4:45. A shot off the crossbar and then into the goalkeeper negated any opportunity. However, on the next attack, GARIBOTTI made it her fourth for 11-9 at 3:24. The game became even more interesting when BIANCONI scored her second (extra) and third (deep left) goals either side of BEKHAZI’s fourth (top on extra) for 12-11 at 1:35, Monika EGGENS scored on extra at 0:24. The last score of the period came from super shot BIANCONI from top on extra for her fourth goal and third in under two and a half minutes.

EGGENS started the fourth period with a missile from 10m and BARRON LA SALLE emulated the feat, but from 9m, having her shot deflect off BIANCONI’s defensive arm, wrong-footing GIGLI and it was 15-12. BIANCONI scored again, 24 seconds later, for 15-13, and for her fifth goal. Left-hander PERRAULT netted her third to take the margin to three again, but, and there is a but, BIANCONI sat up at right-hand catch, on extra, to claim her sixth — and her team’s fifth consecutive — and 16-14. Captain DI MARIO scored, but Canadian captain Krystina ALOGBO drew a penalty and BEKHAZI scored her fifth for 17-15. Valeria PALMIERI continued the see-saw match to bring Italy to 17-16 at 3:05. Canada called a timeout at 1:59 when on extra, but could not score, gaining another extra-man chance and Christine ROBINSON’s shot blocked by GIGLI. Teresa FRASSINETTI drew a third major foul on ROBINSON and DI MARIO went to the penalty, earning the 17-17 draw right on the final minute. Canada went to its second timeout. The ball finally got to ALOGBO at two metres and her shot, well taken, smashed into GIGLI. Italy called timeout at 0:30. The ball worked around and FRASSINETTI earned an exclusion at 0:18. With just three seconds on the clock, EMMOLO shot the winner for a remarkable 18-17 victory.

CAN vs ITA - credit: Russell McKinnon


Fabio CONTI (ITA) — Head Coach
“Yesterday we had a mind to work toward Barcelona. Today we tried something different with our defence but it became difficult. After halftime we went back to our usual defence and the game changed. I am still not happy with the mind of my team, especially when five goals down. To be a strong team we have to be strong in the mind. This was the first time in 2013 that my girls have done this.”

Roberta BIANCONI (ITA) — six goals
“It was a very hard game. By the end of the game we can see the spirit of this group. If you can do this against a strong team like Canada when five goals down, we can be a great group. We have spoken about the mentality of the team and working on our concentration. Little mistakes we can’t do in a tournament like this. The mentality of the team changed in the second half.”

Joelle BEKHAZI (CAN) — five goals
“Coming after yesterday we decided we wanted to play our game and not anyone else’s. We have to buy into our new system and new coach and see what we can do. The ejections were probably two to one against (actually, nearly three to one) and that was a problem. We had no problem converting our chance. We were not pleased with our power play defence, but I am proud of our team for fighting to the end. It’s a good step forward.”