Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee

Auckland, December 17.— Russia will play Spain for the gold medal at the FINA World Women’s Youth Water Polo Championships at the Sir Owen Glenn National Aquatic Centre in Auckland on Sunday.

Russia beat Netherlands 12-8 in the first semifinal after being 5-1 ahead at halftime and Spain converted a 6-4 halftime lead over Italy to win 12-10.

In the Round 5-8 semifinals, United States of America downed China 20-6 and Greece beat Hungary 11-10.

In classification matches, Canada held off a fast-finishing Germany for 11th place with a 13-10 scoreline and Australia bettered New Zealand 11-5 for 10th place.

The tournament, like the youth men's event some months ago, is being played with just 11 of the 13-player rosters, with 25 seconds possession time and 15 seconds exclusion periods. This makes for a much faster style of game with more shots and plenty of goals. However, following this tournament, FINA is not expected to continue with experimental rules.

Live streaming of all matches is via:

Sunday programme:

Match 45: 12.00am, CHN v HUN

Classification 7-8

Match 46: 1.20pm, USA v GRE

Classification 5-6 

Match 47: 2.40pm, NED v ITA

Classification 3-4 

Match 48: 4.00pm, RUS v ESP

Classification 1-2 


Match reports: 

Match 39, 11.00pm, GERMANY 10 CANADA 13

Classification 11-12

Quarters: 2-4, 3-6, 3-1, 2-2

Referees: Svetlana Dreval (RUS), Ziliang Chen (CHN)

Extra Man: GER: 1/7. CAN: 4/7.

Penalties: Nil.


GERMANY: Liese Lotte Hurrelmann, Lynn Krukenberg (2), Meike Weber, Lara Kostruba, Ira Deike (2), Sophia Eggert (1), Nicole Vunder, Aylin Fry (1), Jamie Verebelyi (4), Nadine Hartwig, Leonie Prinz. Head Coach: Milos Sekulic.

CANADA: Ana Maria Vulpisi, Brianna Vtas (2), Nina Ceklic (1), Yasmine Rachid (1), Joelle Nacovski (1), Emily Aikema (4), Adrien Van Dyke, Verica Bakoc (4), Keara Boan (1), Chayma Hlanadif, Katherine Campbell. Head Coach: Andrew Robinson.


Canada finished with 11th place, well down from the silver-medal position in Madrid two years ago. Germany, who scored just one goal in its last two matches, almost pulled off the shock of the tournament, coming back from 4-8 to 10-11 with five minutes remaining. After a hiatus of three minutes Canada came up trumps with two goals for victory. Germany played its best match of the tournament and it must be said that Canada did not bring its best game to the pool. Canada looked confident early and then made bad choices, took poorly placed shots and generally looked tired. When it needed, it came to light and produced the winners. Germany finished 16th in Madrid and now goes home with 12th.


Photo: Russell McKinnon


Match 40, 12.20pm, AUSTRALIA 11 NEW ZEALAND 5

Classification 9-10

Quarters: 4-1, 1-1, 4-2, 2-1

Referees: Oriel Jaumandreau (ESP), Dasch Barber (RSA).

Extra Man: AUS: 1/4. NZL: 2/5.

Penalties: AUS: 2/2. NZL: 0/1


AUSTRALIA: Gabriella Palm, Emma Jones (1), Kiara Holden (2), Brooke Dickie (3), Sofia Chaves (1), Alice Williams (3), Meghan Ridge (1), Danielle Morrissey, Savannah Henshaw, Sofie Pontre, Bridget Johnston. Head Coach: Predrag Mihailovic.

NEW ZEALAND: Antonia Young, Emmerson Houghton (3), Malia Josephson, Jessica Marsden, Nadia Pavlovich, Caitlin Parker-Allen, Morgan McDowall, Emily Nicholson (1), Bernadette Doyle (1), Liana Dance, Alisha Winstanley. Head Coach: Davor Carevic.


In the Trans-Tasman clash, neighbours Australia and New Zealand always play for extra pride. New Zealand had by far the better tournament so far and looked capable of giving its best against the girls from “across the water (Tasman Sea)”. However, from the start, Australia looked the better team on the day and was more effective up front. The quarter-time score attests to that. The Kiwis fought hard in the second and were more defensive, stealing many a ball. The crucial third period gave Australia more leeway and New Zealand was defeated. If the Kiwis had been more accurate in their passing, the result could have been much better. Australia moves up two placings from Madrid two years ago while New Zealand lifted three spots to 10th.


Picture: Russell McKinnon



Classification 5-8 Semifinal

Quarters: 5-2, 5-2, 6-2, 4-0

Referees: Martin Murray (CAN), Kazuzo Moribayashi (JPN)

Extra Man: USA: 3/12. CHN: 3/10

Penalties: USA: 0/1.


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Heidi Ritner, Alexis Liebowitz (2), Jewel Roemer (1), Abrielle Hill, Paige Hauschild (2), Bayley Weber (1), Madeline Johnston (2), Sarah Klass, Aria Fischer (9), Ryann Neushul (3), Thea Walsh. Head Coach: Marcelo Leonardi.

CHINA: Jingying Wu, Yanan Bi, Sanfeng Nong (3), Dunhan Xiong (1), Shiyun Wang, Yujia Bai, Rui Xu, Qingwei Wang (1), Xinyan Meng (1), Yuting Xie. Head Coach: Dali Gong.


USA moved into the play-off for fifth place with a clinical exhibition of water polo against China. USA had the assurance, the skills and the determination to prove that it is better than just playing for fifth. Olympic gold medallist and World League champion Aria Fischer enjoyed the outing with a tournament-high nine goals, including four in the second quarter and USA raced to a 10-4 advantage. China left holes in the defence and probably under-played. USA’s passing set up many goals and the agility of the team proved destructive for China. Sanfeng Nong worked hard for goals, collecting her three in the first half. Sadly for China, it could not score in the final eight minutes and a little luck went against it when Ryann Neushul collected a rebound and backhanded the ball into goal to close the scoring. 


Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 42, 4.00pm, GREECE 11 HUNGARY 10

Classification 5-8 Semifinal

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

Referees: Raffaele Colombo (ITA), Michael Brooks (NZL)

Extra Man: GRE: 3/7. RUS: 1/3.

Penalties: GRE: 0/1. HUN: 2/2.


GREECE: Ioanna Stamatopoulou, Elisavet Protopapas (1), Maria Eleni Seletopoulou, Nikoleta Eleftheriadou (3), Vasiliki Plevritou (4), Pinelopi Kollia, Dimitra Papanastasiou, Maria Patra (2), Ifigeneia Mavrota (1), Maria Myriokefalitaki, Marina Kotsioni. Head Coach: Stefanos Leandros.

HUNGARY: Gina Lekrinski, Reka Miklos (4), Vanda Valyi (1), Orsolja Hertska (1), Henriett Adam, Hlengiwe Mchunu, Kinga Mihaly, Csenge Toth, Eszter Kiss, Fanni Muzsnay, Alda Magyari. Head Coach: Gabor Godova. 


This was an evenly matched encounter that had Greece 3-0 ahead early and Hungary 7-6 up at halftime. Greece had the better of the third quarter, shooting out to a 9-7 lead before Hungary pulled one back just before the final-break buzzer. Hungary’s misery was enhanced when Greece’s Vasiliki Plevritou lobbed from nearly 10m — her fourth — in the first attack for the two-goal buffer. Nothing Hungary could do would bring goals and even Greece, so strong and dominating, also dried up on the goal front. Hungary enlivened the match with a goal at 2:57 for 10-9. Greece took a timeout on extra at 2:14 and nine seconds after the restart Nikoleta Eleftheriadou scored her third from deep left with a look-away shot. It proved to be the decisive goal — and Hungary responded with five seconds left for 11-10 — to send Greece to the fifth-place play-off with USA. Hungary, who promised so much, will play for seventh against China.

Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 43, 6.40pm, RUSSIA 12 NETHERLANDS 8

Classification 1-4 Semifinal

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

Referees: Gabriella Varkonyi (HUN), Nicola Johnson (AUS)

Extra Man: RUS: 1/2. NED: 3/6.

Penalties: Nil.


RUSSIA: Evgenia Golovina, Daria Gerzanic, (1) Elizavita Zaplatina (2), Maria Bersneva (6), Bella Khamzaeva (2), Polina Popova (1), Alena Serzhantova, Polina Kempf, Veronika Vakhitova, Tatiana Tolkunova, Svetlana Stephakhina. Head Coach: Sergey Markoch.

NETHERLANDS: Sarah Buis, Rozanne Voorvelt, Brigitte Sleeking (3), Fluerien Bosveld, Maartje Keuning (1), Anouk Bergsma (1), Brigit Mulder (1), Saranne Dukel (1), Kitty-Lynn Joustra, Lieke Rogge (1), Gezina Scholte. Head Coach: Gerrit-Jan Schothans.


Russia will play for gold on Sunday and whatever the result, it will be a huge step up for the country on 2014 when it finished ninth. In a hugely exciting and fast-paced match, Russia was sharp and went for chancy passes that paid dividends. The counter-attack also proved a positive force throughout. Another, more commanding force was the excellent goal-saving skills of goalkeeper Evgenia Golovina (pictured), especially in the first half. She made many outstanding lunges and covered her left post, easily dragging down a handful of shots from that acute angle. This match had probably the slowest start of the tournament with the solo goal of the opening quarter coming at 1:38 through Maria Bersneva. It was mainly all Russia in the second quarter with the speedy Maria Bersneva netting her second and third, firstly on counter and then catching a long pass from down the pool the score while guarded by two players. Netherlands, who gained their first goal on extra-man advantage, netted its second through Brigit Sleeking from the top. Bersneva countered twice, scoring once and passing off to Daria Gerzanich for 7-2. Lieke Rogge responded for the Dutch on extra and Polina Kempf closed the period at 8-3. The Dutch opened the final quarter through Sleeking and Brigit Mulder as the sun was scything through the end windows, making it 8-5. Russia was not flustered and converted extra man as the match reached fever pitch. This became 9-6 at 4:33 and several great chances went begging for the Dutch. Russia, pressed into mistakes by the resurgent Dutch, gained some respite through Bersneva with her fifth, driving from halfway and scoring at 2:24 for 10-6. Netherlands was not finished, centre forward Maartje Keuning scoring at will only for Bersneva to race off and score at the other end. At 11-7, it was a feat beyond the Dutch to crash the final but their effort was courageous. Russia took a timeout and Netherlands stole the ball quickly, went on counter and Sleeking scored her third goal for 11-8. The final score came from Russian captain Bella Khamzaeva on a cross pass from right in front of the goal at 0:13. For more than half the latter part of the match Netherlands equalled Russia (7-7).

Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 44, 8.00pm, SPAIN 12 ITALY 10

Classification 1-4 Semifinal

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

Referees: Amber Drury (USA), Andreas Moiralis (GRE).

Extra Man: ESP: 6/11. ITA: 4/13.

Penalties: ESP: 1/1. ITA: 1/1.


SPAIN: Sandra Domene, Paula Crespi (2), Paula Leiton (1), Mireia Guiral, Alejandra Aznar (3), Blanca Goset, Elia Montoya (3), Carmen Barringo, Alba Bonamusa (3), Laura Gomes, Paula Rutgers. Head Coach: Jordi Valls.

ITALY: Caterina Banchelli, Agnese Cocchiere, Claudia Presta (2), Giulia Cuzzupe (2), Chiara Foresta (1), Giulia Millo (1), Domitilla Picozzi (2), Isabella Riccioli (1), Lucrezia Cergol, Elisa Quattrini, Elena Altamura (1), Sara Ingannamorte. Head Coach: Paolo Cizza.


Spain heads to the gold-medal final with Russia on Sunday after a thrilling semifinal victory over Italy. Spain was ready for action more than Italy and looked comfortable at 3-1 by quarter time. Italy was fighting hard for little reward, but this changed in the second period. Italy pulled one back through Giulia Cuzzupe on extra before Paula Crespi sent in a slider from nine metres for 4-2. Alba Bonamusa and two strikes by Elia Montoya for Spain with a Giulia Millo extra-man goal for Italy took the score to 7-3. With the clock ticking down and Italy in desperation mode, Cuzzupe converted extra with just two seconds until halftime and 7-4. Picozzi and Elena Altamura brought the near-packed stadium to its feet with goals at the start of the third quarter to 7-6. However, Spain, playing with precision, scored twice on extra, through Crespi and Bonamusa. Domitilla Picozzi went on counter for 9-7. An Italian timeout yielded nothing other than a penalty foul against it at the other end of the pool, sending Bonamusa to the line, converting for 10-7 at 0:08. Presta narrowed the match to two on counter early in the fourth period with Montoya netting her third on extra at 5:25 for 11-8. With South African, Australian and New Zealand boys’ and girls’ schools teams in the huge crowd ahead of their annual tri-series tournament, Italy nailed extra-man attack through Chiara Foresta at 3:58. She hit the crossbar on an extra-man chance on the next attack, which could have closed the margin slightly. Aznar, who scored Spain’s second and third goals, added another on extra at 2:31 for a match-winning 12-9 advantage. Italy botched another five-on-four play. The third straight extra play finally yielded a goal to Presta for 12-10, but it was far too late.

Picture: Russell McKinnon