Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Shanghai, China, June 7.— United States of America had the biggest win of the day, however, Russia’s incredible fightback against Netherlands was the real talking point of the second day of the FINA Women’s World League Super Final at the Match Natatorium here today.

USA defeated Japan 17-4 to start the day, then Russia came from five down twice to clinch a 10-10 shootout on the final buzzer and win the penalties 4-2 for an amazing 14-12 victory.

Canada continued the demise of Australia with a well-crafted 8-4 margin and Hungary posted its finals aspirations with a commanding 16-6 triumph over host China.

Progress points:

Group A: USA 6, Russia 5, Netherlands 1, Japan 0.

Group B: Canada 5, Hungary 4, China 3, Australia 0.


Match 6. 15:00, Group A, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 17 JAPAN 4

Quarters: 4-1, 3-1, 6-1, 4-1

Referees: Nicola Johnson (AUS), Adil Aimbetov (KAZ)

Penalties: Nil

Extra Man: USA:  8/14. JPN: 1/3


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Gabby Stone, Maddie Musselman (1), Melissa Seidemann (1), Rachel Fattal, Mary Brooks (2), Maggie Steffens (2), Jordan Raney, Kiley Neushul (2), Aria Fischer (2), Jamie Neushul (2), Makenzie Fischer (2), Alys Williams (3), Mia Rycraw. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

JAPAN: Miyuu Aoki, Yumi Arima (1), Yuri Kazama, Shino Magariyama (1), Chiaki Satanoue, Minori Yamamoto, Akari Inaba (1), Yuki Niizawa (1), Kana Hosoya, Misaki Noro, Marina Tokumoto, Kotori Suzuki, Minani Shioya. Head Coach: Makiko Izuo.

Match report:

USA played a driving game, breaking up the Japanese defence and making constant use of cross passes in the danger zone. This proved effective often, but in the least, disrupted the Japanese defence and created small chances from which to score. USA scored the first four goals in a four-minute spurt in the middle of the quarter with Japan snatching a lob goal a minute from time.  USA may have won the second period 3-1. but Japan stepped up, like it did in the third and fourth quarters against Russia on Tuesday, keeping USA scoreless for 4:21. Japan’s lone goal came on counter. With two goals in the bag, Japan did not gain its first extra-man attack until 4:52, but this proved fruitless. Japan struggled to contain the USA attack in the third period as wave after wave of successful surges kept USA team leader Andrew Silva’s Twitter thumbs racing at warp speed.  USA was always looking for that extra pass, making sure of the better percentage. With the Neushul and Fischer sisters all scoring, the goals were truly being shared around with seven different players making the sheet by 12-2. Yumi Arima scored an excellent centre-forward scoop and Mary Brooks accepted a long cross pass from Makenzie Fischer to score inside the final second for 13-3. Japan provided stiff opposition for the first five minutes of the final period before USA swam away with the match with three unanswered goals.

Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 7, 16:20, Group A, RUSSIA 14 NETHERLANDS 12 in penalty shootout (FT: 10-10. Pens: 4-2)

Quarters: 3-4, 2-5, 2-1, 3-0

Referees: Marcela Mauss (GER), Rajmund Fodor (HUN).

Penalties: NED: 1/1.

Extra Man: RUS:


RUSSIA: Anastasia Verkhoglyadova, Daria Gerzanich (2), Ekaterina Prokofyeva (3), Elvina Karimova (1), Maria Borisova, Olga Gorbunova (1), Alena Serzhantova (1), Anastasia Simanovich (1), Anna Timofeeva (1), Tatiana Tolkunova (3), Veronika Vakhitova, Daria Ryzhkova (1), Anna Karnaukh. Head Coach: Aleksandr Gaydukov.

NETHERLANDS: Laura Aarts, Miloushka Smit (3), Genee Dagmar, Catharina van der Sloot (3), Genee Amarens, Nomi Stomphorst, Marloes Nijhuis, Brigit Mulder, Maud Megens (2), Laura van der Graaf (1), Lieke Klaassen (3), Kitty-Lynn Joustra, Debby Willemsz. Head Coach: Arno Havenga.

Match report:

Netherlands was five up twice and lost in a penalty shootout. The result should have been different, but all credit to the tenacity of Russia who showed level-headedness when all seemed lost. A tactical blunder can make a huge difference in this level of the game. When Russian head coach Alexandr Gaydukov called a timeout late in the first quarter, the match was on tenterhooks. It was locked at three, Russia gained an exclusion and the swift thinking of the players set up one to have an open shot for the lead inside the final minute. Then Gaydukov called a timeout. The inevitable happened as the resulting shot failed to find the net, Netherlands went to the far end, secured a penalty foul and converted for 4-3 at 0:04. It was crucial, but Russian skipper Ekaterina Prokofyeva seemed to put the incident behind her in converting extra-man attack on the first offence of the second period to level. Then the orange surge came as the Dutch slammed in five goals in under four minutes for a whopping 9-4 advantage — two were on extra and one just after the exclusion time. Russian converted through Anna Timofeeva in a text-book man-up opportunity from the near post to narrow the deficit to four by halftime. Lieke Klaassen took it out to five again early in the fourth, only for Russia to respond twice in 46 seconds later in the period for 10-7. Netherlands looked rattled and had every reason to be. Come the final quarter and Russia was on a roll with Daria Gerzanich on extra and Tatiana Tolkunova with sheer determination at six metres narrowing the margin to one by 5:22. It was a sensational finish with many chances going astray or just plain blocked, then the Dutch committed two critical errors; firstly, Maud Megens committed a simulation foul at 17 seconds and Russia went to a timeout; secondly, captain Miloushka Smit grabbed the head of the centre forward and was excluded, giving Russia four passes in which to score, with Tolkunova converting on the buzzer to force the penalty shootout at 10-10. In the shootout, the Dutch went first and converted twice. Russia responded in like. Then Laura van der Graaf hit the right post only for Russia to score for the 13-12 lead. Brigit Mulder had her shot blocked and this left Alena Serzhantova to convert for the victory.

Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 8, 17:40, Group B, AUSTRALIA 4 CANADA 8

Quarters: 0-2, 3-2, 0-2, 1-2

Referees: Diana Dutilh (NED), Filippo Gomez (ITA).

Penalties: AUS: 0/1. CAN: 1/1.

Extra Man: AUS: 0/5. CAN: 2/5.


AUSTRALIA: Lilian Hedges, Amy Ridge (1), Elle Armit, Bronte Halligan (1), Julia Barton, Alice Williams, Rowie Webster (2), Jessica Zimmerman, Kelly O’Leary, Chloe Barr, Morgan Baxter, Madeleine Steere, Lea Yanitsas. Head Coach: Sakis Kechagias.

CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Krystina Alogbo, Axelle Crevier, Emma Wright, Monika Eggens (2), Kyra Christmas (1), Joelle Bekhazi (2), Elyse Lemay (1), Hayley McKelvey, Christine Robinson (1), Gurpreet Sohi, Shae Fournier (1), Claire Wright. Head Coach: Haris Pavlidis.

Match report:

This match was all about Canada’s superior skills and experience over a vastly inexperienced Aussie Stingers. Canada kept Australia scoreless until 3:48 in the second quarter; it was an uphill battle for Australia as Canada held the edge and frustrated many an attack. While Canada looked in control, it was Australia who battled back in the second quarter with three goals in just over two minutes. However, it could not breach the gap by the long break. The Aussie frustration heightened in the third period as Canada scored twice, the first through Elyse Lemay at 5-3. Soon after she was sidelined through the blood rule, causing consternation in the Canadian camp. Canadian head coach Haris Pavlidis was yellow-carded for his defiant stance. Lemay had been accidentally knocked in the transition and stayed on the bench clutching an ice pack to her eye. Stingers captain and dual Olympian Rowie Webster had a penalty strike blocked by the Canadian goalie and Joelle Bekhazi neatly threaded the ball into the top right for the three-goal margin to close the quarter. Kyra Christmas made it 7-3 from the penalty line and three minutes later Webster lobbed Claire Wright for her second. Monika Eggens drilled one from the top at 1:22 for 4-8, the final score of the match. A small matter of interest was that both coaches hailed from Greece, taking up contracts in foreign lands since the Rio Olympics.

Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 5. 19:00, Group B, HUNGARY 16 CHINA 6

Quarters: 4-2, 4-0, 4-2, 4-2

Referees: Amber Drury (USA), Tadao Tahara (JPN).

Penalties: Nil

Extra Man: HUN:  8/12. CHN: 3/10.


HUNGARY: Edina Gangl, Dora Czigany, Dora Antal (2), Dorottya Szilagyi (6), Gabriella Szucs, Orsolya Takacs, Anna Illes (2), Rita Keszthelyi (1), Ildiko Toth, Barbara Bujka (4), Dora Csabai, Noemi Somhegyi (1), Orsolya Kaso. Head Coach: Attila Biro.

CHINA: Lin Peng, YaNan Bi, XiaoHan Mei, DunHan Xiong, GuanNan Niu (1), Ning Guo (3), YiWen Lu (1), Cong Zhang (1), ZiHan Zhao, SanFeng Nong, Xiao Chen (1), Jing Zhang, YuTing Xie. Head Coach: DaLi Gong.

Match report:

Hungary turned it on for the largest crowd of the day, unfortunately not what the host team desired. China was a winner on day one over Australia and was hoping for more. The class and speed of Hungary proved too much and as the match progressed, Hungary kept chiseling into the Chinese rockface. It was Dorottya Szilagyi, who spent her junior years following her coaching father Peter around the globe — including New Zealand and Australia — who turned it on for Hungary. She had three of the first five goals and added a fourth by halftime. By the end of the third she had increased her tally to a tournament high of six goals.  She was backed up by an agile, fast and precise passing and deadly shooting by her  team-mates. China scored consecutive goals late in the third to double its number, but the white wagon train of Hungary was running it over. Those four goals lifted the roof thanks to the boisterous spectators with their red, blow-up “sticks”. Cong Zhang scored one of the best goals of the match when she rose high out of the water to drill the ball into the top left from well outside. To start the final period.  Anna Illes, Barbara Bujke twice and centre forward Noemi Somhegyi blasted it to 16-5 before YiWen Lu scored a rare 5m shot for this tournament to close the evening.


Picture: Russell McKinnon

Interested spectators, including Hungarian dignataries — President of the
Hungarian Parliament Laszlo Kover (white shirt).
Picture: Russell McKinnon