WP Juniors (M), Day 6: Italy faces off Croatia in the final

FINA World Junior Water Polo Championships

Szombathely (Hungary), 17 August – Just as in last year, at the Olympic Games, Italy meets Croatia in the final. Now the two nations’ best juniors clash for the U20 world title. So far, these youngsters are just dreaming of playing at the Olympics, but they have definitely taken the first steps towards the highest level. In the semis, Italy won a tough defensive game against Serbia while Croatia’s huge blasts sank Hungary’s ship to the sadness of one and half thousand fans around the pool.

For places 11-12

Uzbekistan vs. Canada 13-14
Quarters: 4-3, 1-1, 3-5, 3-2 – ET: 1-1, 1-2

UZBEKISTAN: KHABIBULLAEV Radion, RAZZAKOV Timur, QOSIMOV Miraziz 4, MASSEL Aleksandr 2, DONSKOV Vladimir, ZAITSEV Aleksey, RUSTAMOV Kirill 5, CHUMACHENKO Egor 2, SAVLIEV Abbas, SELIFONTOV Semvon, KURBANBAEV Amir, KRAHOTIN Maksim, MIRSAITOV Marlen

CANADA: RADENOVIC Milan, BOSKOVIC Dusan 1, RADOJCIC Dusan, PELLANO Martin 1, GRAHAM Eric 2, DABIC Matija, TASCHEREAN Alec 3, LAPINS David 4, MITROVIC Nikola 3, PERRY Connor, THUMWOOD Devon, HENNING Oscar, SULLIVAN Daniel

Extramen:
UZB: 2 for 8
CAN: 3 for 8

Penalties:
UZB: 1 for 1
CAN: 1 for 2

Referees: Farman (KUW), Cote (COL)

Uzbekistan had a flying start: Qosimov scored a hat-trick in two minutes for 3-0. The Canadiens needed another two minutes to get back to equal (3-3) – but that was only the start of a great battle with a series of ups and downs from both sides. Again, the Uzbeks led 5-3, their rivals came back, and towards the end of the third period they gained a 7-9 lead. With 4:52 remaining from the game the Canadians were 8-11 up, but Kirill Rustamov’s magic brought his team back. He scored two, set up one in-between, the second one was a great free-throw 4 second before the end, saving the match into extra-time. In the additional six minutes the Canadians dominated – again, the Uzbeks used only two bench player in the entire game and were tiring –, and after 12-12 Lapins scored two in one minute (he netted 4 in the game). Chumachenko pulled one back and with 9 seconds to go the Canadians missed a penalty, but the Uzbeks couldn’t score after their final time-out.

For places 9-10

Japan vs. Russia 12-11
Quarters: 1-3, 0-3, 5-3, 4-1 – ET: 1-0, 1-1

JAPAN: FUKUSHIMA Tomoyoshi, KONNO Yohei 4, ICHIKAWA Masahiro 4, FUKADA Shunsuke, TAKIGAWA Shunya 1, ISHITANI Toshiki, SAKAMOTO Kouki, SUGANE Daiki 2, ARAI Atsushi 2, OONO Yuto 1, SAKAUE Hiroyuki, MATSUSHITA Wataru, KAWAMURA Soushi

RUSSIA: KORNEEV Kirill, SUCHKOV Ivan 2, KISELEV Konstantin 2, DYUBCHENKO Vitaly 2, KOVALENKO Valery, DEREVYANKIN Nikita, TIMAKOV Vladislav 3, NAGAEV Ivan, FEDOTOV Vasily, KOPTSEV Ivan, ZHITNIK Viacheslav, SHEPELEV Roman 2, MAKAS Artem

Extramen:
JPN: 3 for 10
RUS: 3 for 6

Penalties:
JPN: 1 for 1
RUS: none

Referees: Dester (BRA), Stankevich (USA)

Japanese water polo is getting better and better. The senior team offered some outstanding performances at the FINA World League Super final and their juniors also showed quality and mental strength. Coming back from 1-7 down and winning the game against Russia in the extra-time is something one can build on in the future.
Russia played fine in the first half – even without their best scorer, Ivan Nagaev who was left out together with Vasily Fedotov due to some internal problems –, they were up to the expected level both in attack and in defence. Even though Japan managed to score a couple of goals in the third, the Russians were still 9-4 up with 1:35 remaining from the third period. But the Asians found the net twice until the end, Konno’s free throw bounced in with 5 seconds to go and that gave an enormous boost for Japan for the fourth period. By the middle of that quarter they trailed only 8-9. Timakov buried a 6 on 5 for 8-10, but Takigawa put away an extra with 78 seconds before the and Arai’s free throw also hit the net with 0:09 on the clock. And for the first time in the match the Japanese went ahead, it was a brilliant counter-attack after denying Russia’s 6 on 5 (11-10). Suchkov’s goal gave hope for the Russians, but Oono quickly finished their extra after the first pass and the Russians couldn’t score during the 33 seconds left.

For places 5-8

United States vs. Australia 13-11
Quarters: 3-3, 3-4, 3-1, 4-3

USA: BARON McQuin, FELLNER Patrick 2, ZWANEVELD Alec, FARMER Matthew, ABDULHAMID Adam, ROBERTS Ryder 2, McCLINTICK Danny, BONANNI Bret 4, BOWEN Alexander 4, RAMIREZ Chancellor 1, McCONNELL Nolan, KIMBELL Jackson 1, DANNER Garrett

AUSTRALIA: ADDLEY Gabriel, FORD George, PAVILLARD Luke, SKINNER Matthew 1, POWER Nathan 3, PERROTT Matthew 2, SINDONE Paul 1, TRABINGER Justin, MARSHALL Gordon 1, SINCLAIR Tyler, EGAN Daniel 2, EDWARDS Lachlan 1, COCOKIOS Sam

Extramen:
USA: 2 for 7
AUS: 2 for 8

Penalties:
USA: none
AUS: 2 for 2

Referees: Paoletti (ITA), Vlasic (CRO)

It was a great game with a handful of action goals, and roller-coaster performances from both sides. The US team went 5-3 ahead early in the second but the Aussies found their rhythm and by halftime they led 6-7. Bret Bonnani’s double in the third turned the cards, he almost made a hat-trick but his shot bounced back from the post at the end, luckily, Roberts was close enough to push it into the net for 9-7. The Aussies missed a 6 on 5, and only 21 seconds left, but the Americans lost the ball and it quickly found Egan in the centre whose magnificent back-handed shot just beat the buzzer for 9-8. However, Bowen and Bonnani – the most experienced players in the US side, as they also were part of the senior’s team summer games – scored again and again for 11-8, they netted four goals respectively. Bowen’s great counter-attacking goal was even applauded by the senior’s team head coach, Dejan Udovicic from the tribune. Still, the Aussies climbed back to 11-10 but a great one-timer from Fellner eased the pressure (12-10). Power scored for 12-11 and the Aussies had a chance to equalise, but Marshall was denied in the centre and Ramirez decided the game 24 seconds before the end after the Aussie defence were unable to clear the ball in front of their goal it fell to Ramirez who pushed it into the net from half metre.

For places 5-8

Spain vs. Brazil 11-3
Quarters: 1-1, 4-2, 3-0, 3-0

SPAIN: LORRIO Eduardo, MUNARRIZ Alberto 1, MONTPEAT Joshua, CABANAS Sergi 1, DE TORO Miguel 1, LARUMBE Marc 1, BARROSO Alberto 2, MATOSO Vicente 2, REIXACH Gerard 1, BUSTOS Alejandro 1, GORRIA Javier 1, BUSTOS Javier, EXPOSITO Victor

BRAZIL: MANFRINI Marcelo, JUNIOR Marcos, MARTINS Felipe, REAL Pedro 1, TAYER Pedro, GOMES Bernardo, BORGES Pedro, VASCONSCELOS Henrique 1, GOMES Guilherme, SALGADO Gabriel, GUIMARAES Gustavo, STELLET Pedro 1, CAMPOS Bernardo

Extramen:
ESP: 3 for 8
BRA: 2 for 7

Penalties:
ESP: 2 for 2
BRA: none

Referees: Vasenin (RUS), Salnichenko (KAZ)

Brazil could keep up with the Spaniards for one and half periods – then ran out of wonders. The disciplined play of the Spanish team and the obvious difference between the skills and physical abilities resulted a rather one-sided battle, mainly in the second half. The Spaniards missed a couple of extras early and that delayed the inevitable. On the other end the Brazilians had the power for a while to score – but after ten minutes they started to fade. It wasn’t surprising: six encounters in six days are too much at their current level of preparedness. The partial results of the two halves tell the story: it was 5-3 after two periods – Spain won 6-0 the next two.

Semi finals

Italy vs. Serbia 5-4
Quarters: 1-1, 1-0, 2-2, 1-1

ITALY: VESPA Lorenzo, DI FULVIO Francesco 1, PRESCIUTTI Nicholas 1, VERGANO Tommaso, FONDELLI Andrea, ALESIANI Jacopo, RENZUTO IODICE Vincenzo 1, BRUNI Lorenzo, VELOTTO Alessandro 1, BUSILACCHI Tommaso, CUPIDO Luca 1, DOLCE Vincenzo, VASSALLO Gabriele

SERBIA: VITOROVIC Milan, TANASKOVIC Djordje, MAKSIMOVIC Milos 1, VASIC Dusan, SUBOTIC Gavril 1, STOJANOVIC Ognjen 1, MANDIC Dusan, RASOVIC Viktor, RANDJELOVIC Sava 1, MANOJLOVIC Marko, MATKOVIC Nemanja, OBRADOVIC Dimitrije, JAKSIC Nikola

Extramen:
ITA: 3 for 13
SRB: 2 for 8

Penalties:
ITA: none
SRB: 1 for 1

Referees: Schwartz (ISR), Roy (CAN)

The tribunes were already packed, the locals wanted to watch some quality water polo in the first semi. And the two sides were up to the level the 1,500 fans expected. It was a really tough defensive game, scoring a goal required extraordinary efforts from the players as heavy marking, great blocking and brilliant goaltending stood in the way of the attackers. Velotto drew first blood in the middle of the first, the Serbs struggled to get on the scoreboard but 6 seconds before the end Maksimovic wonderful backhanded shot from the centre levelled the score (1-1).
The Italians missed three 6 on 5s in a row, the Serbs also failed to put away theirs in the second. Almost five minutes gone when Cupido’s free through hit the back of the net, and the Italians could have extended the gap but they were unable to conver two more extras. Still, they were 2-1 up at halftime.
Renzuto finally hit one from a man-up for 3-1, but Randjelovic was also on target from a 6 on 5 after a time-out. He should have scored another one in a 5 on 4 (a double exclusion was called earlier) but his shot bounced back from the post. The next Italian miss didn’t remain unpunished: from the ensuing counter the Serbs earned a penalty and it was converted by Subotic for 3-3. The Serbs almost killed the following Italian extra but the last foul – attacking the head of the player holding the ball – was a bit rude, and Presciutti could score from the second man-up.
After a series of saved or missed shots the middle of the fourth period saw two man-ups converted in succession, both after a respective time-out. Stojanovic’s bomb couldn’t be controlled, but Di Fulvio’s shot was also a fine one. It was 5-4 and 3:26 minutes remained. It’s a long time in this sport but now it was not enough to find another goal. The Serbs tried desperately but didn’t succeed. They earned a man-up inside the last minute, set-up a nice opportunity, Maksimovic received the pass standing 2m from the goal but he was unable to push it into the right direction. The ball went wide, the Italians went wild as they celebrated their tough win which sent them through the final.

Semi finals

Hungary vs. Croatia 10-13
Quarters: 1-2, 2-2, 4-4, 3-5

HUNGARY: BENDES Viktor, TELEGDY Andras 1, JANSIK Szilard 3, BEDO Krisztian, BERTA Jozsef 1, SEDLMAYER Tamas, GYARFAS Tamas, CSAPO Miklos, LORINCZ Balint 1, SZABO Bendeguz, MANHERCZ Krisztian 1, NEMET Toni 3, GYORGY David

CROATIA: MARCELIC Ivan, BUKIC Luka, MACAN Marko, GORETA Antun 1, FATOVIC Loren, CAGALI Marino 2, LOZINA Luka 1, BUHA Antonio 1, VISKOVIC Ante 4, ZIVKOVIC Ivan, VUKICEVIC Ante 2, BASIC Andrija, GAGULIC Andro 2

Extramen:
HUN: 7 for 13
CRO: 6 for 10

Penalties:
HUN: 0 for 2
CRO: none

Referees: Buch (ESP), Uz (TUR)

Extraordinary shooting form and a red-hot goalie on the Croatian side, a bit chaotic defensive work and poor goaltending – the difference was surprisingly huge between the two teams.
Hungary had a fine start, Jansik scored from a counter, but the Croats hit back with two blasts from their two men-ups. The hosts missed their two 6 on 5s so they trailed 1-2 after eight minutes. Croatia scored two magnificent action goals which resulted unusual silence around the pool (1-4). The fans got louder a bit later when the Hungarians finally put away two extras (missed three in the first half of this quarter).
Viskovic, feeling that this is his day, let another ball fly from the wing and the Croatian leftie was right. A key moment came shortly, when Marcelic stopped Lorincz’s penalty and 24 seconds later Cagali scored from the distance. Instead of 4-5 it was 3-6. Hungary recovered somehow, and Nemet’s goal from the centre and two converted extras brought them back to level (6-6). Croatia called a time-out and that was enough to regroup themselves. This time Vukicevic’s blasts found their ways easily to the net, Berta also scored in-between so the Croats led 8-7 before the last period.
And this quarter mirrored sharply what separated the two sides. The Croats put away another two extras – scored four in succession –, the Hungarians netted one but missed the other and the last one cost them a lot. Goreta scored an unbelievable goal, from 9m, just beating the shotclock, the ball bounced in from the bar. That broke the hosts, another Croatian action goal came within 42 seconds and a bit later Marcelic saved the second penalty in the afternoon. (A bit ironic comparison: Hungary beat Croatia in Barcelona in the semis with the Hungarian goalie stopping two penalties.) Being 8-12 down, a bit later 8-13, the Hungarians were done. Credit to them, they fought on, pulled two back but Croatia’s win was no longer in danger.

Sunday schedule

For places 7-8

13.30 Australia vs. Brazil

For places 5-6

15.30 United States vs. Spain

Bronze medal game
16.50 Serbia vs. Hungary

Final
18.10 Italy vs. Croatia