Gergely Csurka FINA Media Committee Member (HUN)

It couldn’t have been any stranger: in the highlighted clash of the day, host Netherlands and Russia settled for a draw. Changes in the score-line tell the story: 2-4, 8-4, 8-8 – the 6-0 rush of the Dutch was eclipsed by a 0-4 last quarter march of the Russians. The world champion US team was quite convincing while beating Canada 14-7 in the North American derby. Italy and Greece also stand with two wins after the second day.

Game 1 – 12.40, Group B: Germany v New Zealand 8-5 (3-2, 2-1, 2-1, 1-1)

Referees: Gabriella Varkonyi (HUN), Nikolaos Boudramis (GRE)

 GERMANY: Felicitas Saurusajtis, Belen Vosseberg, Nadja Kreis, Bianca Seyfert 3, Claudia Blomenkamp 3, Sina van der Bosch, Anja Seyfert, Jamie Verebelyi 1, Jenifer Stiefel, Nadine Hartwig, Carmen Gelse, Anika Ebell 1, Liselotte Hurrelmann. Head coach: Milos Sekulic

 NEW ZEALAND: Jessica Mihcich, Nicole Lewis, Kelly Mason 1, Ricci Ferigo, Simone Lewis, Annabel Harman, Alexander Boyd, Caitlyn Lopes Da Silva 3, Emma Stoneman, Ema Carevic 1, Casie Bowry, Liana Dance, Antouki Youna. Head coach: Angie Winstanley-Smith

 Extramen

GER: 2 for 10

NZL: 1 for 8

Penalties:

GER: 1 for 1

NZL: 0 for 1

It was a tough clash: Claudia Blomenkamp (Germany, left) and Kelly Mason – Credit (all pics): Deepbluemedia/Inside/Pasquale Masiano

The first key moment came at 1-1 when the New Zealanders missed a penalty and in less the two minutes the Germans buried theirs on the other end – so it was 2-1 instead of 1-2. The dying seconds of the first period were also unusually busy: Jamie Verebelyi scored for the Germans with 0:01 left on the clock, but Kelly Mason’s 14m shot after the restart somehow found its way to the net.

However, if you are committed enough, sport can do justice – and this happened at the end of the following period, when the Germans, playing with heart and discipline, collected a lucky rebound and Bianca Seyfert just beat the buzzer with her shot, giving her team a 5-3 lead by halftime.

And it was all decided in the third when the European players used their skills and experience to widen the gap to four goals (7-3) and maintained the safe distance throughout the remaining minutes.

Comments

Petar Trbojevic, coach, Germany:

“We came here to win this game and we managed to do that. The girls gave 120 per cent, we are pretty much satisfied with their performance. For us, this was an important match for other reasons as well, we can rarely play with overseas teams, so it was important to gain experience in this match, now we make a try against France.”

Angie Winstanley-Smith, head coach, New Zealand:

“Again I come back to the fact that the girls are yet to have a lot of game practice, it’s really hard to step up to this level as we couldn’t play together as a team in the pre-season in New Zealand. We got some things we got punished for and we’ve used to that, still, it’s really hard to recreate these situations in a training environment. We must stay positive, we have more games here, we try to do our best, play as a team and hope to have a win along the way.”

Game 2 –14.00, Group B: France v Italy 2-14 (1-4, 0-3, 1-4, 0-3)

Referees: Natacha Florestano (BRA), Daniel Flahive (AUS)

FRANCE: Lorene Derenty, Estelle Milot, Lea Bachelier 1, Aurore Sacre, Louise Guillet, Geraldine Mahieu, Marie Barbieux, Marion Tardy, Adeline Sacre, Audrey Daule, Lucie Cesca, Michaela Jaskova 2, Morgane Chabrier. Head coach: Filippos Sakellis

ITALY: Gulia Gorlero, Chiara Tabani 1, Arianna Garibotti 1, Elisa Queirolo 2, Federica Radicchi 1, Rosaria Aiello 1, Tania di Mario 2, Roberta Bianconi 3, Giulia Emmolo, Francesca Pomeri 1, Aleksandra Cotti, Teresa Frassinetti 2, Laura Teani. Head coach: Fabio Conti

Extramen

FRA: 1 for 7

ITA: 5 for 12

 Penalties

FRA: none

ITA: 2 for 2

Tania di Mario was again the true leader of the Italians as she scored two goals

Winning each quarter by three goals, Italy did what can be labelled a technical routine: they gave as much as needed in a game like this and in a tournament like this. Since the next four days will decide everything (next is the Netherlands, on Friday they meet Russia, then come the decisive quarter-final) they offered a fine but energy-saving performance. Still, their team-effort deserves credit as nine players shared the duties of scoring and their defence was almost flawless.

Comments

Filippos Sakellis, head coach, France:

“We got more exclusions than expected so maintaining our rotation was a bit harder, still, the girls played well for most of the time. This is the reality against Italy, our task is to win the game tomorrow against New Zealand, this is what we are preparing for.”

Fabio Conti, head coach, Italy:

“Another game where it was inevitable that we were going to win so our goal was to maintain our level of concentration as from tomorrow we’ll have our key games coming in the prelims.”

Game 3 – 15.20, Group A: United States v Canada 14-7 (5-2, 2-1, 3-2, 4-2)

Referees: Adrian Alexandrescu (ROU), Jaume Teixido (ESP)

USA: Samantha Hill, Madeline Musselman 3, Melissa Seidemann, Rachel Fattal, Caroline Clark 1, Margaret Steffens 1, Courtney Mathewson 1, Kiley Neushul 2, Aria Fischer 1, Kaleigh Gilchrist 1, Makenzie Fischer 2, Kameryn Craig 2, Ashleigh Johnson. Head coach: Adam Krikorian

CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Krystina Alogbo, Katrina Monton, Emma Wright 1, Monika Eggens 1, Kelly McKee, Joelle Bekhazi 1, Axelle Crevier 1, Carmen Eggens 2, Christine Robinson, Hanna Yelizarova 1, Dominique Perreault, Nicola Colterjohn. Head coach: David Paradelo

Extramen

USA: 4 for 7

CAN: 3 for 9

Penalties

None

This one hit the bar, but most of the time the US players were on target...

A goal from the centre with two seconds from time, then, right after the break, another goal from a counter, after losing the ball in midfield – this is something of a coach’s nightmare. And exactly this happened to the Canadians at the end of the first and the beginning of the second quarter when the US took a commanding 6-2 lead. It turned out to be decisive in the North American clash.

The world champions rushed 3-0 ahead early in the opening period but Canada was on the come-back trail at 3-2 and seemed to be able to stun its arch-rival but the following phase belonged to the US girls and they didn’t let their momentum go. They defended extremely well, kept their opponent on 3 goals for two had a half periods while did a professional job in offense. They came off with a fine win, sending another strong message: it will take a woman to stop them on the road to Rio. 

Comments

Adam Krikorian, head coach, USA:

“We played well at times and we played frantic at times. This is the phase when all teams have to control the nerves, slow down, take a deep breath… We can do a better job, though we are pleased with the result.”

David Paradelo, head coach, Canada:

“We always want to win the games, even today when we played with the US. Today we made mistakes in one on one plays, we have to win those battles in order to win games.”

Game 4 – 16.40, Group A: Greece v South Africa 16-2 (2-0, 5-2, 4-0, 5-0)

Referees: Benjamin Mercier (FRA), Erwin Schaapers (NED)

GREECE: Eleni Kouvdou, Christina Tsoukala 3, Nikoleta Eleftheriadou 1, Vasiliki Diamantopoulou 1, Margarita Plevritou 1, Alkisi Avramidou 2, Alexandra Asimaki 3, Antigoni Roumpesi 1, Christina Kotsia, Triantafyllia Manolioudaki 1, Eleftheria Plevritou 2, Eleni Xenaki 1, Chrysoula Diamantopoulou. Head coach: Athanasios Kechagias

SOUTH AFRICA: Rebecca Thomas, Amber Penny 1, Kieren Paley, Emma Hardham, Cary Wessels, Christine Abrahamse, Amy Keevy 1, Alex van der Valt, Megan Parkes, Amica Hallendorf, Kelsey White, Lauren Nixon. Head coach: Samuel Gareth

Extramen

GRE: 5 for 10

RSA: 1 for 4

Penalties

GRE: 1 for 1

RSA: none

Eleftheria Plevritou netted two for the Greeks

Greece could score its 14th goal with 3:46 minutes from time – a kind of proof that the players’ concentration level significantly dropped after their brilliant win over Spain on the opening day. They could also score 14 against the 2013 world champions, an outstanding feat, so reaching the same amount of goals against the much lower ranked South Africans only by the middle of the last period was telling. In fact, the Greeks hit the woodwork a dozen times which shows that they weren’t as sharp as a day ago – though this is quite understandable. As their coach said after the previous triumph: “tomorrow is another day and another game.” It was, indeed.

Comments

Athanasios Kechagias, head coach, Greece

“We did not play at the same level as yesterday but this is how it goes. The players’ brains are already focusing on tomorrow when we play with Canada.”

Samuel Gareth, head coach, South Africa

“They played well that they are good at, we also played well what we are good at, but we are not at the same level so the difference and the outcome was obvious.”

Game 5 – 18.30, Group B: Netherlands v Russia 8-8 (1-3, 3-1, 4-0, 0-4)

Referees: Marie-Claude Deslières (CAN), Jaume Teixido (ESP)

NETHERLANDS: Laura Aarts, Miloushka Smit, Dagmar Genee, Catharina van der Sloot 1, Amarens Genee 1, Nomi Stomphorst, Marloes Nijhuis 2, Vivian Sevenich 1, Maud Megens 2, Isabella van Toorn, Lieke Klaassen 1, Leonie van der Molen, Debby Willemsz. Head coach: Arno Havenga

RUSSIA: Anna Ustyukhina, Tatiana Zubkova, Ekaterina Prokofyeva 1, Elvina Karimova 2, Maria Borisova 1, Olga Gorbunova 1, Svetlana Kuzina 1, Anastasia Simanovich 1, Anna Timofeeva, Evgeniia Soboleva 1, Evgeniya Ivanova, Anna Grineva, Anna Karnaukh. Head coach: Alexander Gaidukov

 Extramen

NED: 0 for 9

RUS: 3 for 9

 Penalties

NED: 2 for 2

RUS: 1 for 1

Catharina van der Sloot (with the ball) and her Dutch team mates sat on a roller coaster

Before the game a minute of silence was held in respect for the victims of the horrendous terror attacks in Brussels, the capital of neighbouring Belgium.

It took one and half periods for the hosts to cool down their nerves – until that point they looked pretty much lost at both ends of the pool but especially in offence: they missed four extras in a row (in this field they pretty much struggled later as well). Luck wasn’t on their side either, Svetlana Kuzina’s ball hit the post then bounced in from the goalie’s head, giving the Russians a 0-2 lead and they were 2-4 ahead even in the second.

Holland got on the rise after two magnificent bouncing shots from the distance, courtesy of Vivian Sevenich and Catharina van der Sloot and all of a sudden the capacity crowd came alive – just as the Dutch players. In the third they were devastating, netted a series of great goals. Including the double from the previous period, they produced a 6-0 rush, Maud Megens and Marloes Nijhuis both scored two apiece, three from action. The Russians were totally off the pace, their attack didn’t work at all so everything seemed to have been set for glorious evening for the hosts.

Instead, the Russians made an all-in – and it worked. A slight loosening in concentration on the Netherlands’ side resulted in a penalty, Evgeniia Soboleva buried it. In a minute, a fine play at last in a 6 on 5, Ekaterina Prokofyeva scored for 8-6. Soon a great counter, and Elvina Karimova made it 8-7, with 3:52 to go. Then they denied a Dutch extra and after a rather patient set-up Anastasia Simanovich was on target, at the very end of a man-up, in the 26th second of the possession. Hundreds were stunned as it stood 8-8 – and the last Dutch 6 on 5 was also killed. Still, the hosts had a long attack at the end but after two unsuccessful attempts they could be grateful that only 4 seconds were left when Karimova, swimming alone, got the ball at 11m… Thus, she had to shoot from 8m, opted for a lob which landed on the bar and it stayed even. A rightful end of an extraordinary encounter – only time will tell what this draw might mean at the end of the prelims.

Comments

Arno Havenga, head coach, Netherlands:

“We failed to finish off the game, gave the Russians the opportunity to come back. We should have controlled the game much tighter but we couldn’t and it cost us points.”

Alexander Gaidukov, head coach, Russia:

“We started well but then the Dutch team showed us how to play this game in the right way, it was fast-paced, it was interesting. However, our Russian character helped us a lot in the fourth period, and we managed to save a point at last.”

Game 6 – 20.00, Group A: Japan v Spain 6-23 (1-6, 1-4, 2-6, 2-7)

Referees: Marcela Mauss (GER), John Waldow (NZL)

JAPAN: Mivra Rikako, Sakanoue Chiaki 1, Ianab Akari, Maganiyama Shino 2, Nakata Moe, Takahashi Oyaka 1, Nakano Yumi 2, Hashigochi Mitsuki, Hosoya Kana, Moni Tsuhasa, Jokumoto Marina, Suzuki Kotori, Aoki Miyun. Head coach: Kato Hideo

SPAIN: Laura Ester, Marta Bach, Anna Espar 2, Beatriz Ortiz 1, Matilde Ortiz 1, Jennifer Pareja 1, Paula Leiton 6, Pilar Pena 2, Judith Forca 3, Roser Tarrago 1, Maica Garcia 5, Laura Lopez 1, Patricia Herrera. Head coach: Miguel Oca

Extramen

JPN: 0 for 7

ESP: 8 for 10

Penalties

none

One from the 23 Spanish goals: Maica Garcia scores (she had 5 hits this evening)

For a moment, a minor surprise occurred as Japan levelled the score for 1-1 – but order was quickly restored as the Spaniards netted five unanswered goals in the remaining minutes of the first period. The favourites were still in the phase of recovering from their bad loss to Greece a day ago, but as the game went on they produced more and more fine moments and beat the Japanese with ease. Besides, they bettered the tournament’s scoring record of the US (also set against Japan, with 18) and crossed the 20-goal barrier, while Paula Leiton netted 6 goals, also a meet high among the individuals so far.

 Comment

Miguel Oca, head coach of Spain:

“It was a game where we could regain our confidence. Hopefully we can keep it till the end of the tournament.”

Classification

Group A

1. USA 4, 2. Greece 4, 3. Spain 2, 4. Canada 2, 5. South Africa 0, 6. Japan 0

Group B

1. Italy 4, 2. Russia 3, 3. Netherlands 3, 4. Germany 2, 5. New Zealand 0, 6. France 0