Super Final 2013 (Women): Host China to play USA and Hungary against Russia in World League semifinals

World League

BEIJING, China (June 4) - Host China will play Olympic and reigning FINA World League champion United States of America in one semifinal on day five of the FINA Women’s Water Polo World League Super Final at the Water Cube in Beijing tomorrow. Hungary will play Russia in the other semifinal.

Russia beat Olympic silver medallist Spain 11-9 in what was a controversial final 14 seconds when a penalty was awarded against Spain in what was seen as possible referee error. Hungary beat Olympic bronze medallist Australia 17-16 in a penalty shootout after the game was tied at 13-13 in regular time. It reversed what Australia did to Hungary in the bronze-medal finals of the last two Olympic Games by winning in penalties in 2008 and in extra time in 2012.

USA, so often a top finisher in this tournament, had to work hard to defeat Canada 6-5 in their quarterfinal and advance to the top four and encounter China.

Australia, will play Spain in the round 5-8 semifinals and Italy will face Canada. The irony of the competition is that the top four teams all came from Group A.

Match reports:

Match 13: 15:00, Quarterfinal, HUNGARY 17 AUSTRALIA 16 in penalty shootout (FT: 13-13. Pens: 4-3)
Quarters: 2-6, 6-3, 1-2, 4-2. Pens: 4-3
Referees: Amber DRURY-PINTO (USA), Massimo SAVARESE (ITA)
Extra Man: HUN 5/10. AUS: 9/16
Pens: HUN: 1/1

HUNGARY: Orsolya KASO, Anna ILLES, Dora ANTAL (2), Ibolya MISKOLCZI (2), Gabriella SZUCS (2), Orsolya TAKACS, (4) Brigitta HORVATH (1), Rita KESZTHELYI (2), Ildiko TOTH (1), Barbara BUJKA (2), Krisztina GARDA, Kata MENCZINGER (1), Edina GANGL. Head Coach: Andras MERESZ.
AUSTRALIA: Lea BARTA, Jayde APPEL, Hannah BUCKLING (1), Holly LINCOLN-SMITH, Isobel BISHOP (2), Bronwen KNOX (3), Rowena WEBSTER (4), Glencora RALPH, Zoe ARANCINI (1), Ashleigh SOUTHERN (2), Keesja GOFERS, Nicola ZAGAME (3), Kelsey WAKEFIELD. Head Coach: Greg McFADDEN.

At the last two Olympic Games, Australia beat Hungary for bronze in a penalty shootout and in extra time. In Beijing today, it was Hungary’s turn to taste victory. Down 6-2 at one stage, Hungary fought back to trail by one at halftime and two at the final break before winning the last period 4-2, forcing a shootout. Hungary scored four penalties to Australia’s three.

Australia started like a greyhound out of a trap, shooting to 2-1 and 4-1 leads and then closing the first quarter at 6-2. But, by halftime, Hungary was within one goal. Rowena WEBSTER opened from the top and Nicola ZAGAME scored from the deep left for 2-0. Gabriella SZUCS opened Hungary’s account, also from outside. WEBSTER blasted in another from the top and captain Bronwen KNOX went on counter from the rear and shot and scored from 6m for 4-1. Hungarian captain Orsolya TAKACS used her strength to gain height and accept a cross pass for 4-2 at two metres. Ashleigh SOUTHERN and Hannah BUCKLING both scored goals on extra from the top to close the scoring, with the last goal four seconds from time.

It was all Hungary at the start of the second period. Ibolya MISKOLCZI scored twice with the first on extra and the second on a double exclusion. Barbara BUJKA sent in an easy shot from centre forward for 5-6. WEBSTER scored her third from centre forward. Rita KESZTHELYI converted extra and SOUTHERN netted her second from the top after the exclusion period for an 8-6 advantage. Brigitta HORVATH and Ildiko TOTH, both on extra, drew the match level at 8-8. The second came after a timeout. Australia snared a last-second goal through Nicola ZAGAME from one metre, pouncing on a rebound to give Australia a 9-8 halftime lead.

Hungary began the second half with a change of goalkeepers, Orsolya KASO leaving for Edina GANGL. Australia took an early timeout, but to no avail. Isobel BISHOP scored twice, either side of a TAKACS outside score for 11-9 in what seemed a pedestrian quarter.

The final period was all Hungary as Dora ANTAL from deep left and BUJKA on penalty had the game at 11-11. KNOX struck back off a near-post pass on extra. SZUCS netted her second from 8m and the game was tied at 12-12. Two minutes later (3:32), TAKACS scored a fantastic shot from deep right to take the lead. Hungary had a chance on extra after a timeout, but not joy. Then, at 1:54, Zoe ARANCINI scored on extra from deep left for 13-13, a score that couldn’t be changed, even though Australia failed to shoot when on extra for the final 11 seconds.

In the shootout, SOUTHERN and HORVATH had their shots blocked by GANGL and Lea BARTA. KESZTHELYI, Webster, Kata MENCZINGER all scored for 15-15. Then Glencora RALPH had her shot stopped. ANTAL and ZAGAME scored, leaving TAKACS to send in the final shot on rotation for the 17-16 victory.

HUN vs AUS - credit: Russell McKinnon


Andras MERESZ (HUN) — Head Coach
“After a terrible first quarter my players fought back and their minds were in a good place. Their hearts hurt but their minds were like ice. It’s hard to play Australia because it is such a very, very strong team. Right now, I don’t think we will have an easy game tomorrow. We must work more and more before the World Championships and then for the Olympic Games in Brazil. (2016).”

Rita KESZTHELYI (HUN) — two-goal scorer
“The win was very good because at the last two Olympic Games we lost to Australia after full time. We haven’t beaten them for such a long time. We are not in the best shape, like Australia. We have a lot of time until the World Championships and if we meet them there we want to win again.”

Greg McFADDEN (AUS) — Head Coach
“The first quarter we played excellently. We played the way we are supposed to play by sticking to the game plan. We then allowed them to get plenty of space to score. At 6-3 it went to 9-8 and it was anyone’s game. It was pleasing in a way as we have seven new players and they have not had many changes. I think that since the Olympics we are the team that has changed the most. We have not had much time together. I hope they will learn from the experience, what to do, how to stick to the game plan and not deviate and get caught out. The eight best teams in the world are here and then there is Greece and the Netherlands. Women’s teams are currently very competitive and any team can beat another on any day.”

Rowena WEBSTER (AUS) — four goals
“We stopped playing on and our game was sporadic. In the first quarter we played to our game plan. We were 6-3 up and you can’t expect a team to come back and expect to come up with a win. We had our opportunities, but didn’t score. We don’t have the best record in shootouts at World League, but it shouldn’t have come down to that. We have to be more confident in pressure situations.”

Match 14: 17:40, Quarterfinal, CHINA 11 ITALY 8
Quarters: 5-2, 3-2, 1-1, 2-3
Referees: Alan BALFANBAYEV (KAZ), Marie-Claude DESLIERES (CAN)
Extra Man: CHN: 5/6. ITA: 4/10
Pens: ITA: 1/2

CHINA: YANG Jun, TENG Fei, LIU Ping, SUN Yujun (4), HE Jin (1), SUN Yating (2), SONG Donglun, ZHU Yajing, MEI Xiaohan, MA Huanhuan, ZHANG Cong (2), ZHANG Lei (2), WANG Ying. Head Coach: Alexander KLEYMENOV.
ITALY: Elena GIGLI, Francesca POMERI, Arianna GARIBOTTI, Federica RADICCHI, Elisa QUEIROLO, Rosaria AIELLO, Tania DI MARIO (1), Roberta BIANCONI (4), Giulia EMMOLO (2), Valeria PALMIERI, Aleksandra COTTI (1), Teresa FRASSINETTI, Giulia GORLERO. Head Coach: Fabio CONTI.

Chinese eased into the semifinals in a high-fouling game in which there were an incredible eight double exclusions. China finished with four players on three major fouls and the second goalkeeper had to play the final minute in a white No. 13 cap. Chinese players were fouled 20 times to Italy’s 14.

Italy opened through superstar Roberta BIANCONI on penalty. China, however, made sure of first-quarter dominance with three consecutive goals via ZHANG Lei, and SUN Yujun on either of the deep wings, and ZHANG Lei again. BIANCONI struck again from the eight-metre line before SUN Yujun from deep right and SUN Yating with a centre-forward backhand, had China 5-2 up at the break.

SUN Yating and ZHANG Cong started the second quarter to give China an excellent buffer on which to build victory. Italy proved its fighting spirit with goals from Aleksandra COTTI — an 8m lob — and Giulia EMMOLO for 7-4. Captain Tania DI MARIO continued her run of bad luck from the penalty line with a blocked shot at 1:47. HE Jin on extra completed the Chinese scoring for 8-4 at halftime.

Italy used its first timeout at 5:47 in the third period and at the end of suspension time BIANCONI grabbed her third for 8-5. China took a timeout and SUN Yujun claimed her third for 9-5 at 3:07, which proved to be the last goal of the period.

DI MARIO opened the fourth quarter with a lob on counter for 9-6 at 6:08. On a double exclusion, ZHANG Cong scored for 10-6 at 5:15. BIANCONI scored her third on extra and SUN Yujun netted her fourth in a scramble down the front right for 11-7 at 2:48. EMMOLO drilled one from the right side of the pool for 11-8 at 2:27. China called a timeout when three goals up at 1:06 and placed second goalkeeper WANG Ying into a white 13 cap and she was soon excluded. DI MARIO’s last shot was deflected and China was through to the semifinals.

Match 15: 16:20, Quarterfinal, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 6 CANADA 5
Quarters: 2-1, 0-0, 2-3, 2-1
Referees: Jaume TEIXIDO (ESP), Edmundo RODRIGUES (BRA)
Extra Man: USA: 3/7. CAN: 5/9
Pens: USA: 1/1

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Elizabeth ARMSTRONG, Lauren SILVER (1), Melissa SEIDEMANN, Danielle WARDE, Caroline CLARK, Margaret STEFFENS, Courtney MATHEWSON (1), Kiley NEUSHAL, Jillian KRAUS (1), Kelly RULON (2), Annika DRIES, Kameryn CRAIG (1), Tumuaialii ANAE. Head Coach: Adam KRIKORIAN.
CANADA: Michele RELTON, Krystina ALOGBO, Katrina MONTON (1), Emma WRIGHT (1), Monika EGGENS (2), Joelle BEKHAZI, Sophie BARON LA SALLE, Dominique PERRAULT, Carmen EGGENS (1), Christine ROBINSON, Stephanie VALIN, Marina RADU, Nicola COLTERJOHN. Head Coach: Guy BAKER.

USA averted a penalty shootout with a dour 6-5 victory over neighbour Canada. With former long-time USA coach Guy BAKER at the helm of Canada, and the frequent clashes between the two nations, there were no surprises.

The match didn’t look like it would be low scoring with Courtney MATHEWSON from the top and Kelly RULON from the field opening the scoring early. Sixteen-year-old Emma WRIGHT responded on extra for Canada midway through the period. For the rest of the period the wood of the goals saw more action than the goalkeepers.

The second quarter was the same with no goals and plenty of defence and wood. Lauren SILVER converted a penalty three minutes into the third quarter for 3-1. Canada took a timeout soon after and Katrina MONTON converted the opportunity for 3-2. Monika EGGENS, who had hit the wood five times, converted extra-man attack, which came after a double exclusion, meaning three players were out of the water at the same time. Two minutes later, Kami CRAIG gained an excellent cross pass along the two-metre line to score on extra for 4-3 at 1:21. Canada levelled through Carmen EGGENS at 1:04 on extra for 4-4.

The final quarter became a bit of a nail-biter with USA in charge. Jillian KRAUS scored on the deep right at 6:55. USA used a timeout, but the Canadian defence was too good. RULON netted her second at 2:14 for 6-4. Canada was not yet beaten and Monika EGGENS scored again from the top for 6-5 at 1:43. Canada called a timeout at 0:38, shot and received the rebound. The ball was sent into centre forward for no result. The ball came out to the top and the press defence stopped Canada having an equalising shot. USA’s hopes of yet another World League title were still live.



Krystina ALOGBO (CAN) — Captain
“It’s a battle every time we play them, at both ends of the pool. We stayed focused on our game plan and our game, opening up the offence and shooting when the openings are there. In the beginning the trouble was transition, going off our shots. Our defence was fine and we had to take away their strengths and not let them shoot where they wanted to shoot. We’re fairly well matched up and we now their strengths and weaknesses.”

Match 16: 19:00, Quarterfinal, RUSSIA 11 SPAIN 9
Quarters: 1-2, 3-3, 3-2, 4-2
Referees: Maro SAVINOVIC (CRO), MENG Anlong (CHN)
Extra Man: RUS: 1/8 ESP: 2/5
Pens: RUS: 1/2. ESP: 2/2

RUSSIA: Anna USTYUKHINA, Diana ANTONOVA, Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (3), Elvina KARIMOVA, Alexandra ANTONOVA (2), Olga BELOVA, Ekaterina LISUNOVA (3), Anna GRINEVA, Anna TIMOFEEVA, Olga BELIAEVA (3), Evgeniya IVANOVA (1), Ksenia KRIMER, Anna KARNAUKH. Head Coach: Mikhail NAKORYAKOV.
SPAIN: Laura ESTER, Marta BACH, Anna ESPAR (2), Roser TARRAGO (3), Matilda ORTIZ, Jennifer PAREJA (1), Lorena MIRANDA, Pilar PENA (1), Andrea BLAS, Ona MESEGUER (1), Maica GARCIA, Laura LOPEZ (1), Patricia HERRERA. Head Coach: Miguel OCA.

Russia beat Spain in a controversial finish in which Spain called a timeout with 14 seconds remaining when it appeared both referees had turned over the ball before Russia had used possession time. Spanish head coach, Olympic champion Miguel OCA, called a timeout just as the referees signalled but no whistle had been blown. After a long period of poolside discussions, Russia gained the penalty, converted and Spain was assigned to the round 5-8.

Olga BELIAEVA opened the scoring at centre forward for Russia. However, Spain scored the next four goals in the next eight minutes. Pilar PENA scored an immaculate goal on the drive, followed by captain Jennifer PAREJA down the left for 2-1 at quarter time.

Roser TARRAGO scored twice from the penalty line in quick succession and the margin was out to 4-1 by 6:56 of the second period. Russia jumped into the game with Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA, Ekaterina LISUNOVA and BELIAEVA with her second goal levelled the game at 4-4 by 2:50. Ona MESEGUER scored on extra from the deep right to break the deadlock at 1:20, the last scoring of the half.

PROKOFYEVA levelled from the left on the first attack of the third period. TARRAGO drilled one from the top for a Spanish advantage and then a very smart goal went to Alexandra ANTONOVA, a gift from centre forward BELIAEVA, who flicked the ball to the left when heavily defended. It was 6-6 at 4:59. Russia went to a timeout with no effect on the scoreboard. At 1:58, Alexandra ANTONOVA struck again for 7-6, Russia’s second lead of the match since 1-0. Anna ESPAR upset Russia with a 5m goal, one of the few this week. She rose high on the free throw and rocketed the ball high into the net for 7-7, three seconds from time.

PROKOFYEVA was on the spot to receive the ball from the top and score from very deep left at 7:18 in the fourth quarter and 8-7. LISUNOVA on a drive and BELIAEVA with a two-metre backhand took Russia 10-7 ahead by 3:39. PROKOFYEVA had her penalty attempt blocked and at the other end, ESPAR sent in a missile from downtown for 10-8. Russia went to a timeout at 1:31, more to settle the team than major tactics. Alexander ANTONOVA was caught offside and Spain had a sniff of a draw, drew an exclusion and on the second shot scored through Laura LOPEZ at 0:42. Spain called a timeout when Russia still had two seconds on the clock. It appeared both referees gave a signal for the turnover. Spanish head coach Miguel OCA advanced to the referee on the score bench side and protested wildly. Much chat ensued and it was decided that it was an illegal timeout and a penalty was given to Russia and LISUNOVA converted for 11-9, leaving a sour taste in Spain’s mouth.

RUS vs ESP - credit: Russell McKinnon


Ekaterina PROKOFYEVA (RUS) — two goals
“The Spanish team is very interesting. They are experienced and strong. We were prepared and very serious for this match. We knew there was a lot at stake, to be in the top four or not to be in the top four. We had to play as one, as a unit, a fist. We played very well as a team against the Olympic silver medallist.”

Miguel OCA (ESP) — Head Coach
“We didn’t play a good game. We were not fresh in attack and missed many shots. The centre forward for Russia took her chances and scored three goals. That hurts a lot. Tomorrow we have to play Australia. It is good to have difficult games on the way to the World Championships in Barcelona. I hope by being the host it is going to push us and help us deal with the pressure.”