Super Final 2013 (Women): Spain and USA top groups in Beijing Super Final

World League

BEIJING, China (June 3) - Olympic champion United States of America and Spain topped their groups after day three of the FINA Women’s Water Polo World League Super Final at the Water Cube in Beijing.

Spain went three wins in regular time in Group B while USA had two wins and a loss in penalty shootout to win Group A. For USA, that first-day loss on penalties to China was enough to head off Hungary (two regular-time wins) and China with one regular win and the victory on penalties, which attracts only two points as opposed to the normal three. Russia, with three losses, was fourth.

In day-three Group B action, Spain needed a goal 14 seconds from time to head off Canada 9-8 and Italy squandered an 11-6 lead for Olympic bronze medallist Australia to level before Italy won 12-11 inside the final minute.

In Group A. USA beat Hungary 12-7 and China tossed out Russia 10-7.

In Tuesday’s quarterfinals, Spain should defeat Russia and USA will face continental neighbour Canada in what could be a traditional, dour encounter. In the cross-overs between the second and third-placed nations, Hungary and Australia will want to bring their A game and China and Italy is unpickable.

Two players and a coach were thrown out during the day with Chinese assistant coach HONG Xicheng given a red card and Roberta BIANCONI (ITA) and Glencora RALPH (AUS) going on a double exclusion for violence in the third quarter of their match. The latter two will be available to play on Tuesday.

Match reports:

Match 9: 15:00, Group B, SPAIN 9 CANADA 8
Quarters: 2-1, 4-2, 2-2, 1-3
Referees: Amber DRURY-PINTO (USA), MENG Anlong (CHN)
Extra Man: ESP: 5/11. CAN: 2/13
Pens: ESP: 0/1

SPAIN: Laura ESTER, Marta BACH, Anna ESPAR, Roser TARRAGO (2), Matilda ORTIZ, Jennifer PAREJA (1), Lorena MIRANDA, Pilar PENA (3), Andrea BLAS, One MESEGUER, Maica GARCIA (2), Laura LOPEZ (1), Patricia HERRERA. Head Coach: Miguel OCA.
CANADA: Michele RELTON, Krystina ALOGBO (2), Katrina MONTON, Emma WRIGHT, Monika EGGENS (3), Joelle BEKHAZI, Sophie BARON LA SALLE (1), Dominique PERRAULT (1), Carmen EGGENS, Christine ROBINSON, Stephanie VALIN, Marina RADU (1), Nicola COLTERJOHN. Head Coach: Guy BAKER.

Spain won through control and aggression in front of goal. Solid defence also played its part as the Canadians struggled to get away decent shots, despite a lot of effort. This was especially so in extra-man attack where Canada could do no better than two from 13 attempts.

Spain started strong with Pilar PENA and Maica GARCIA taking the score to 2-0 in less than three minutes. It took until 2:25 before Sophie BARON LA SALLE opened Canada’s scoring, drilling a shot from the top on extra-man advantage.

PENA opened the second quarter on the first attack from extra-man attack and Dominique PERRAULT responded on the next attack, also on extra, for 3-2. Laura LOPEZ on extra and Marina RADU from action, traded goals for 4-3 in Spain’s favour. Then the goals dried up for Canada as Spain dominated. Captain Jennifer PAREJA sent in a slider from the top on extra but hit the crossbar on her penalty attempt one and a half minutes later. Never mind, as on the next Spanish attack, a fine, long pass from goalkeeper Laura ESTER to the fast-breaking Roser TARRAGO, lifted the score to 6-3. TARRAGO lobbed the young Michele RELTON.

GARCIA claimed her second on extra, receiving the ball at 4m and lifting her tall frame high to score on the first Spanish attack of the third period. Canadian captain Krystina ALOGBO scored her first of the tournament from centre forward at 5:35 for 7-4. Canada missed many opportunities with bounce shots that either hit the bar or went over the top. Either way, they did not trouble the keeper. That changed at 2:12 when, after a Canadian timeout, the big-shooting Monika EGGENS sent in a rocket from the left-hand-catch position for a threatening 7-5. EGGENS was ejected at the other end and PENA scored her third for 8-5 to close out the quarter.

Canada had the better of the final quarter with ALOGBO scoring early from two metres and EGGENS striking for a third time on counter-attack from the top. This goal was fortunate as at the other end it appeared a Spanish shot had gone over the line but it was disallowed, From this, Canada countered and scored for 8-7. The game became very interesting and neither side could break through, even when Spain went to a timeout on extra at 3:20. Two players blocked the shooter and ALOGBO came up with the ball. A double exclusion brought nothing, but on the next attack Canada gained an exclusion and went to a timeout at 0:4 9. The ball five times before EGGENS sat up at the top and equalised at 0:33. Looking at a shootout, Spain was not interested and TARRAGO, when unchecked, scored a bouncer from 4m to close out the match with 14 seconds remaining.

ESP vs CAN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Miguel OCA (ESP) — Head Coach
“I was very satisfied with the performance of the team and the attitude especially. The team is always going, never surrendering. Some parts were down, but we got up and going again.”

Laura ESTER (ESP) — Goalkeeper
“Canada is very strong. We knew they could get close or even win. They are a good team.” On the three victories: “We are thinking more about tomorrow’s game (cross-overs). We are taking the tournament step by step. There is a good sensation in the team, but we have to keep working.”

Monika EGGENS (CAN) — Three-goal scorer
“It felt good to get a lot of opportunities (personally). People opened up the game for me. I walked in and shot. We did anything to get the ball into the back of the net. We have had two tough losses, but tomorrow is the most important game and we have to get up and win. We’ll get there.”

Match 10: 16:20, Group A, HUNGARY 7 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 10
Quarters: 1-2, 0-2, 2-6, 4-0
Extra Man: HUN: 4/14. USA: 5/12
Pens: None

HUNGARY: Orsolya KASO, Anna ILLES, Dora ANTAL (2), Ibolya MISKOLCZI, Gabriella SZUCS (1), Orsolya TAKACS (1), Brigitta HORVATH, Rita KESZTHELYI, Ildiko TOTH, Barbara BUJKA (2), Krisztina GARDA, Kata MENCZINGER (1), Edina GANGL. Head Coach: Andras MERESZ.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elizabeth ARMSTRONG, Lauren SILVER (1), Melissa SEIDEMANN (3), Danielle WARDE, Caroline CLARK, Margaret STEFFENS (1), Courtney MATHEWSON, Kiley NEUSHAL (2), Jillian KRAUS, Kelly RULON, Annika DRIES (1), Kameryn CRAIG (2), Tumuaialii ANAE. Head Coach: Adam KRIKORIAN.

Superb goalkeeping by USA’s Tumuaialii ANAE helped shut Hungary out in a game that USA had won by the end of three periods. Despite a four-goal Hungarian revival in the final quarter, the 16 saves by ANAE proved crucial to the outcome of the game. It was a huge improvement on his first-day outing and puts her in elite class.

Maggie STEFFENS opened the scoring for the USA from the 5m line, only for Hungary to equalise through Dora ANTAL on extra. Kami CRAIG took USA ahead with a centre-forward effort, but there the goals went missing as the next came nine and a half minutes later after a series of wayward shots and good defence. Melissa SEIDEMANN, looking strong at the top when she does not make a foray into centre forward, scored a sneaky goal when the ball was placed just beyond her reach and the passer drove past. SEIDEMANN leaned forward, picked up and turned and shot for 3-1 at 4:28 in the second. Hungary took a timeout to no scoring effect and Lauren SILVER screamed one in from the top of the arc for 4-1 at 0:52, a small halftime scoreline.

Things heated up in the third period as Hungary struck form through a quick Barbara BUJKA two-metre goal, followed by an ANTAL score from wide left when heavily defended. At 4-3 to USA, the game was alive. HOWEVER, and it is a big however, USA went into overdrive and played probably its best water polo of the week with a six-goal streak before the final break. SEIDEMANN scored twice; Annika DRIES had to scramble to the goal as a lob shot over out-of-position goalkeeper Orsolya KASO dropped short of the line, only for DRIES to slap it into goal for 7-3. CRAIG repeated her earlier centre-forward effort and Kylie NEUSHAL scored twice on extra-man attack for 10-3.

Gabriella SZUCS scored the first goal of the fourth quarter for Hungary before four minutes of swimming finally yielded a Kata MENCZINGER shot on extra from the left-hand-catch position. Captain Orsolya TAKACS joined the mini revival for Hungary’s sixth goal off a cross pass at 5m. The seal was placed on the game by BUJKA from the left-hand-catch position at 1:23 and 10-6. Three of the four goals came on extra for Hungary.

HUN vs USA - credit: Russell McKinnon


Adam KRIKORIAN (USA) — Head Coach
“Hungary can play much better than that, but our goalkeeper (Tumuaialii ANAE) played excellently. We got to a comfort level and getting ready for the quarter-finals. We showed signs of fatigue and need to lift pour fitness levels. It’s great to play six games in six days. The level will get better as we go one and prepare for the World Championships.”

Andras MERESZ (HUN) — Head Coach
“It was a very hard game because USA is the Olympic champion team. I think my team was very tired and lost concentration in the second and third periods. Once again, like yesterday, our last period was very good. I hope we can play a non-European team in the quarterfinals as we play European teams all the time, at European Championships etc. Congratulations to USA on their Olympic gold medal, but congratulations also for this game.”

Ibolya MISKOLCZI (HUN) — 18 and one of four newcomers to the team this year
“We are very tired and would like to win the next game. This was a very hard game and we need to concentrate more. USA is very strong.”

Match 11: 19:00, Group B, ITALY 12 AUSTRALIA 11
Quarters: 4-3, 3-1, 4-2, 1-5
Referees: Balasz FEKETE (HUN), Kunihiro MAKIHASHI (JPN)
Extra Man: ITA:
Pens: ITA: 2/3. AUS: 2/2

ITALY: Elena GIGLI, Francesca POMERI, Arianna GARIBOTTI (2), Federica RADICCHI, Elisa QUEIROLO (1), Rosaria AIELLO, Tania DI MARIO (2), Roberta BIANCONI (3), Giulia EMMOLO (3), Valeria PALMIERI, Aleksandra COTTI (1), Teresa FRASSINETTI, Giulia GORLERO. Head Coach: Fabio CONTI.
AUSTRALIA: Lea BARTA, Jayde APPEL, Hannah BUCKLING, Holly LINCOLN-SMITH (1), Isobel BISHOP (2), Bronwen KNOX (1), Rowena WEBSTER (3), Glencora RALPH, Zoe ARANCINI (2), Ashleigh SOUTHERN (1), Keesja GOFERS, Nicola ZAGAME (1), Kelsey WAKEFIELD. Head Coach: Greg McFADDEN.

Italy won an “ugly” match 12-11 after taking Olympic bronze medallist Australia to the cleaners in the second and third quarters, shooting to 10-5 and 11-6 by the end of the third period. Italian star Roberta BIANCONI and Australian Olympian Glencora RALPH were rolled for fighting late in third period.

Australia may have had the lead at 2-1 in the first quarter, but by the first break it was 4-3 in Italy’s favour. Captain Tania DI MARIO scored the first Italian goal after having her earlier penalty shot stopped by Australian goalkeeper Kelsey WAKEFIELD, followed by Roberta BIANCONI, who scored six yesterday, netting the next two. Aleksandra COTTI scored the fourth on extra. Isobel BISHOP on extra and Aussie Stingers captain Bronwen KNOX converting a penalty gave Australia the lead. At 4-2 down, Holly LINCOLN-SMITH scored a backhand goal from centre forward 15 seconds from time.

DI MARIO and BIANCONI both scored from outside and Elisa QUEIROLO converted a penalty for her first of the week and 7-3. Ashleigh SOUTHERN scored on extra for Australia and her coach called a timeout in the latter stages of the half, with no goal eventuating.

Rowena WEBSTER converted a penalty to start the third quarter and then Arianna GARIBOTTI netted twice, from deep left and the penalty line. Italy called a timeout and, after the exclusion period, Giulia EMMOLO scored. WEBSTER tapped on an pass for an extra-man goal at 2:12 and EMMOLO completed the period on extra when a player from each team (BIANCONI and RALPH) was ejected. Italy had the lead at 11-6.

Zoe ARANCINI scored twice to start the fourth period, bringing Australia to within three of Italy. The first goal came on counter and the second on extra from her favoured deep-right-wing position. BISHOP replaced her in that position and scored the next goal on extra. Webster scored on extra at 4:02 and it was 11-10. Italy slowed the game with a timeout at 3:24 but it was Nicola ZAGAME who scored the equaliser for Australia on extra. Italy was not to be denied and EMMOLO converted extra at 0:51 for 12-11 and what was the victory. She had scored three consecutive goals.

ITA vs AUS - credit: Russell McKinnon


Fabio CONTI (ITA) — Head Coach
“We played very well against Australia, of course, who after the Olympic Games, I regarded as the best team in the world. Only our experience helped us to stay in this game and play harder and we have only had five days of training before this tournament.”

Greg McFADDEN (AUS) — Head Coach
“We rushed and panicked in the first to third quarters and didn’t adapt to what they were playing. The last quarter was great but we should have come away with a draw (and forced a shootout). Hungary (Tuesday opponent) is just another game for us and we will deal with it as a team.”

Glencora RALPH (AUS) — Suspended for fighting in third quarter
“We didn’t play to our game plan or what I could see through a peep hole as we (her and BIANCONI) were kicked out for fighting. The ball was forced into centre forward and we didn’t capitalise on our opportunities. We took wrong shot options on attack. However, it was completely different in the fourth quarter.”


Match 12: 17:40, Group A, RUSSIA 10 CHINA 13
Quarters: 2-4, 1-3, 4-4, 3-2
Referees: Marie-Claude DESLIERES (CAN), Andrew CARNEY (AUS)
Extra Man: RUS: 4/11. CHN: 3/8
Pens: CHN: 1/1

RUSSIA: Anna USTYUKHINA. Diana ANTONOVA, Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (1), Elvina KARIMOVA, Alexandra ANTONOVA (1), Olga BELOVA (1), Ekaterina LISUNOVA (3), Anna GRINEVA, Anna TIMOFEEVA (1), Olga BELIAEVA, Evgeniya IVANOVA (3), Ksenia KRIMER, Anna KARNAUKH. Head Coach: Mikhail NAKORYAKOV.
CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei (3), LIU Ping, SUN Yujun (1), HE Jin (1), SUN Yating, SONG Donglun (1), ZHU Yajing (1), MEI Xiaohan, MA Huanhuan (3), ZHANG Cong (2), ZHANG Lei (1), WANG Ying. Head Coach: Alexander KLEYMENOV.

China kept Russia winless and secured third position in the process with a thrilling second victory. Unfortunately the tight group means finishing no better than third. With MA Huanhuan setting the pace for China with three goals and Russia’s Ekaterina LISUNOVA leading the Russian charge, the game was an excellent example of Europe versus Asia.

China may have opened the game quickly, but Russia was equal to the task in front of the smallest Chinese crowd so far — about 500. MA Huanhuan, so often the long-distance assault weapon for China, started and ZHU Yajing followed on extra soon after. However, Ekaterina LISUNOVA interlaced China’s goals with the first on extra and the second on counter attack. That was at 5:10 and it wasn’t until 1:38 that MA converted a penalty. ZHANG Cong scored from top on extra to make it 4-2 by quarter time.

SONG Donglun and Russian captain Evgeniya IVANOVA swapped goals before TENG Fei scored twice to take China out to 7-3 in the second quarter. China’s assistant coach HONG Xicheng, the former long-standing Chinese national goalkeeper, was red-carded.

In the third period, Anna TIMOFEEVA and Olga BELOVA brought the match back to 7-5 with the former shooting from 7m and BELOVA finishing the sweetest aerial passing move in front of goal. HE Jin did what she does best at centre forward on extra for 8-5. IVANOVA responded and China brought its No 13 goalkeeper, WANG Ying into the match. TENG squeezed the ball into the bottom right and SUN Yujun scored on counter for 10-6. Russia called a timeout and Alexandra ANTONOVA converted the extra-man chance. ZHANG Lei scored her first goal of the tournament with a centre-forward backhand shot. And China had the lead at the final break at 11-7. Russia also made a goalkeeper change from Anna USTYUKHINA to Anna KARNAUKH.

IVANOVA scored from well outside to start the fourth quarter, but MA was also accurate from the top. LISUNOVA came off the bench to score on extra for 12-9. ZHANG Cong sent in a deflected shot from the deep left for 13-9 and Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA broke her drought with a shot from the top on double extra for 13-10. China went to a timeout and two attempts at goal failed. Russia, in turn tried the ploy and China took its second to settle the team ahead of the victory.

RUS vs CHN - credit: Russell McKinnon


Alexander KLEYMENOV (RUS)  — China Head Coach
“Tomorrow we play Australia so it will be tough.”

Olga BELIAEVA (RUS) — Centre Forward
“We lost many balls from the second line and our defence was not so good. Also, we did not throw as many shots in attack, but we tried to play our own game. We did not follow the tactics our coach told us. We play Spain tomorrow (in the quarter-finals). They have very experienced players and are very good linking together. They are also very fast. I think we must know our rival and I think we can do everything to win.”