Women's Super Final 2014, Day 6: USA clinches eighth World League crown

World League

Team USA won their eighth World League title, the fifth in the last six editions. They outpowered Italy in the final: the Setterosa took a 4-1 lead but the Americans scored seven goals in succession and that decided the outcome.

The third place went to Australia, the fifth bronze for them and the eighth World League medal overall. Defending champions China had to settle for the fourth place.



Game 21, 9.00, for places 7-8: Russia vs. Brazil 8-7
Quarters: 3-3, 4-1, 1-1, 0-2
Referees: Toshio Fukumoto (JPN), Danielle Dabbaghian (USA)

RUSSIA: Anastasia Verkhoglyadova, Olga Trotskaya, Ekaterina Prokofyeva, Elvina Karimova, Kseniia Krimer, Valeriia Kolmakova 1, Nadezhda Iarondaykina 2, Evgeniia Khokhriakova, Anna Timofeeva, Anna Grineva 3, Evgeniya Ivanova 2, Ekaterina Zelentsova, Anna Karnaukh (GK). Head coach: Mikhail Nakoriakov.
BRAZIL: Oliveira Tess, Cecilia Canetti, Marina Zablith 3, Marina Canetti, Lucianne Barroncas, Izabella Chiappini 3, Amanda Oliveria, Luiza Carvalho 1, Flavia Vigna, Melani Dias, Viviane Bahia, Diana Abla, Victoria Chamorro. Head coach: Patrick Oaten.

Extramen
Russia: 1 for 4
Brazil: 1 for 4

Penalties
Russia: 1 for 1
Brazil: 1 for 1

After a tight first period the Russians started to dominate as it had been expected: they launched a 4-0 rush in the second and seemed to sit comfortably in the driving seat. However, with a few seconds to go until the middle break, their coach didn’t recognise a call, asked for a time-out while still Brazil were in possession and the ensuing penalty pushed the rivals back into life. Still, the Russians held the three-goal gap before the last period, but their concentration level significantly dropped, missed their best chances, even one-on-one counters, and the enthusiastic South Americans came closer and closer. In the last 30 seconds, at 8-7, they had a man-up, a shooting chance from close-range but the ball was caught by the goalie so the Russians escaped another shootout on the last day (they had two on the first two days).

FLASH QUOTES:

Mikhail Nakoriakov, head coach of Russia: “It was a great tournament, well organised, the facilities were perfect. Our team had to deal with some in-house problems, we left three injured key-players at home and two more got ill here, during the event. So we weren’t hundred percent, and that had an effect on our performance.”

Patrick Oaten, head coach of Brazil: “We go step by step, one game at a time. We came out pretty good for a 7-8 game, and liked the way we competed. We fell a little bit behind in the first half but showed a lot of character, almost put away the last 6 on 5 from the post. With some more experience we can force a shootout next time.”


Game 22, 10.30, for places 5-6: Spain vs. Canada 8-7
Quarters: 2-2, 3-2, 2-1, 1-2
Referees: Nicola Johnson (AUS), Arkadiy Voevodin (RUS)

SPAIN: Laura Ester, Marta Bach 1, Anna Espar, Roser Tarrago 1, Matile Ortiz, Jennifer Pareja 3, Lorena Miranda, Pilar Pena 1, Andrea Blas 1, Ona Meseguer, Carmen Garcia, Laura Lopez 1, Patricia Herrera (GK). Head coach: Miguel Oca.
CANADA: Nicola Colterjohn, Krystina Alogbo, Katrina Monton, Alexa Tielmann, Monika Eggens 1, Emma Wright 2, Joelle Bekhazi 2, Axelle Crevier, Carmen Eggens, Christine Robinson, Elyse Lemay-Lavoie 1, Shae Fournier 1, Jessica Gaudreauit (GK). Head coach: Guy Baker.

Extramen
Spain: 4 for 8
Canada: 4 for 8

Penalties
Spain: 1 for 1
Canada: –

It finished as it had started, as Canada’s head coach Guy Baker put it: “The same story...” In the opening game of the event Spain defeated the Canadians 6-5 in a hard-fought battle. The World champions were always in front but Canada climbed and had a chance to equalise – then and now as well. In this encounter the Spaniards built a two-goal advantage in the third and held it for long. Bekhazi pulled one back with 1:58 remaining on the clock and Canada had two more attempts but they were unable to beat Ester in the goal.

FLASHQUOTES:

Miguel Oca, head coach of Spain: “During the entire tournament we played on a good level only to lose the quarter final game against China. But I’m satisfied with the team: we gave everything today, our last reserves.”

Guy Baker, head coach of Canada: “The same story... But all in all, we made progress today against a good team like Spain. I’m satisfied considering where we were one year ago..”

Jennifer Pareja (ESP), captain: “It was a tough game as Canada always play very hard. The game and the tournament were a good practice for us for the summer, especially for the European Championships in Budapest.”


Game 23, 12.00, Bronze Medal Game: China vs. Australia 2-7
Quarters: 1-2, 0-2, 0-1, 1-2
Referees: Mario Bianchi (ITA), Ursula Wengenroth (SUI)

CHINA: Yang Jun, Li Shujin, Liu Ping, Sun Yujun, Yiong Dunhan, Sun Yating 1, Song Donglun, Zhang Cong, Zhao Zihan 1, Tian Jianing, Wang Xinyan, Niu Guangnan, Peng Lin (GK). Head coach: Rick Azevedo.
AUSTRALIA: Lilan Hedges, Eliesha Browne, Hannah Buckling, Jayde Appel 2, Bronte Halugan, Bronwen Knox, Rowie Webster 2, Glencora McGhie 1, Bronte Colenso, Ashleigh Southern 1, Jessica Zimmerman, Keesja Gofers, Kelsey Wakefield (GK). Head coach: Greg McFadden.

Extramen
China: 1 for 8
Australia: 3 for 4

Both teams were burning their last reserves – the better skills and bigger experience brought the victory and the bronze medal to the Aussies. The Chinese couldn’t make too much splash in attack, for most of the time they struggled against the strong Aussie defence. Just as it happened on Day 2, the Aussies killed most of their man-ups: the host were 2 for 12 in the group game and 1 for 8 now – 3 for 20 altogether, definitely not the way of winning against such a strong rival. With the defence working (shutting out the Chinese for 19:16 minutes), the Aussies built a solid lead step by step and gained a comfortable win.

FLASHQUOTES:

Rick Azevedo, head coach of China: “I was happy with our defence, it worked really well, came together – we need more time for the attacks but it’s all fine. Actually, our 6 on 5 was terrible today. Our younger players don’t have the killer instinct yet, to take the shots, to finish off the game. We had the opportunities, we were two to one, two to two, we were right there. Even in a heavy game we can create opportunities because our defence is so good. The tournament was very positive for us, now we start to work on our offence but this stuff can always come a bit later, you should build your defence first and we just did that.”

Greg McFadden, head coach of Australia: “It was a tough game but our defence was a hundred per cent better than yesterday (against the US). The girls were really hard, controlled the centre forward, and our outside shooters and goalie had an outstanding game. It was a great tournament, not a good result for us yesterday but I’m pretty happy what we showed in this game.”

Ashley Southern (AUS), player: “Today we had a really good game, we focused on our defence, we kept them on a couple of goals which are really good. We didn’t have a good game yesterday so today we had a point to prove. It was a pretty good build-up for the World Cup.”


Game 24, 13.30, Final: Italy vs. United States 8-10
Quarters: 2-1, 2-3, 0-4, 4-2
Referees: Marie-Claude Desliere (CAN), Meng Anlong (CHN)

ITALY: Giulia Gorlero, Federica Radicchi 1, Arianna Garibotti 1, Elisa Queirolo, Silvia Motta, Rosaria Aiello, Tania di Mario 2, Roberta Bianconi 3, Guilia Emmolo 1, Valeria Palmieri, Aleksandra Cotti, Teresa Frassinetti, Laura Teani (GK). Head coach: Fabio Conti.
USA: Samantha Hill, Alys Williams, Melissa Seidemann 1, Rachel Fattal 3, Caroline Clark, Maggie Steffens 3, Makenzie Fischer, Kiley Neushul 1, Jillian Kraus, Kaleigh Gilchirst 1, Annike Dries 1, Kameryn Craig, Elizabeth Keeve (GK). Head coach: Adam Krikorian.

Extramen
Italy: 4 for 9
USA: 3 for 9

Penalties
Italy: 1 for 2
USA: –

Italy reached the World League final for the third time – on the previous two occasions they lost to the USA. The score was 9-6 in 2006, 9-7 in 2011 and with 40 seconds to go it was 9-8 this time... and the shotclock almost expired when Maggie Steffens splashed into the Italian wall, got a fine pass and beat the goalie and the buzzer with a perfect one-timer: an outstanding move from an outstanding player (elected FINA best water polo player in 2012). This was Steffens’s third goal in the final, a stylish seal of the US victory.

It was a great game with plenty of ups and downs. Italy started amazingly fresh and disciplined and by the middle of the second period they led 4-1, while they killed four US extras. En route they missed a penalty and lost one of their centre-forwards, Palmieri who was excluded with substitution in the first period for an alleged elbowing. Still, the Setterosa looked strong – at least for a while. But the US girls were also up for the task, tightened their defence and their attack also began to click. They started to come back, and it turned out to be more than a comeback. In fact, the US managed to turn the tables: they scored seven connecting goals while Italy lost its momentum for one and a half period – that was enough to fall behind (from 4-1 to 4-8).

Di Mario’s brilliant outside lob at the beginning of the fourth put them back on track and even though Neushul scored a fine action goal for 6-9 later, the final surge of the Italians had its result: they trailed 8-9 with 1:10 remaining and with 40 seconds to go they seemed to have a last shot to save the game to a shootout but then came Steffens and she finished off the clash, ensuring another US triumph in the World League.



Team USA, 2014 World League winner - credit: Gergely Csurka

FLASHQUOTES:

Fabio Conti, head coach of Italy: “Congratulations to the US, they have the best team. They have a complete team, they are very fast, they are very tough so it’s not easy to play against them, especially not in the sixth game in a six-day tournament. I’m very happy with my players, they showed strong character. We committed small mistakes in defence, but it’s not a problem. We arrived here to prepare for the European Championships, after spending 20 days together, so I didn’t expect us to be in such a condition on the last day of this tournament. It’s really important for us to feel we can compete with the world's best teams.”

Adam Krikorian, head coach of USA: "In the first quarter we played as bad as we played – in fact, Italy is a strange team, a unique team for us, for lot of our younger players it meant a new experience. But we got better as the game went on, it happened on the previous days and today wasn’t a different one."
On the 7-0 rush: "We can talk about the goals, but first of all we improved defensively. We needed that after we missed all 6 on 5s in the first period but we came out more aggressive, more focused, that was the key."

"Though everyone says it’s easy (to win 5 titles in 6 years) but if you say this you don’t respect the other teams. We have ten-eleven teams who can be the best in any tournament – that’s why we need 12 teams at the Olympics – so it’s never been easy, each one of our opponents, no matter of the score, is a great challenge for us."

Annike Dries (USA), player: “Italy did a really good job on their 6 on 5 today. We came out a little slow but we turned that around with the intensity of our defence. We came back together as a team, put away shots when we needed to and played smart in the second half. We’ve changed our defensive mentality (while rallying from 4-1 to 4-8), we didn’t let easy possessions for their centre-forwards and that let our offence do its job with more confidence.”