Russell McKinnon, FINA Media Committee Member

USA settles for world domination and all the trophiesUnited States of America became the first team in history to hold Olympic, World Championship, World Cup and World League crowns at the same time when it beat Netherlands 5-4 in the gold-medal final tonight.Netherlands was denied a second gold medal after winning in Perth in 1991 and now has five silver medals from this event. For the USA it was a fourth title after victories in 2003, 2007 and 2009.Twice champion Italy won the bronze medal over Australia in a penalty shootout, closing the match at 7-7 and winning the penalties 5-3 for a 12-10 victory.Greece was involved in its third penalty shootout in four days — two for men — when it came back seven times against China for 9-9 to force the five shots. However, like the men the night before, Greece lost the shootout, 3-4 in China’s 13-12 victory.In the classification match for seventh, outgoing champion Spain beat Russia 15-10.Media AwardsMOST VALUABLE PLAYERRachel Fattal (USA)MEDIA ALL STAR TEAMGOALKEEPERAshleigh Johnson (USA)CENTRE FORWARDKami Craig (USA)FIELD PLAYERSZoe Arancini (AUS)Roberta Bianconi (ITA)Rachel Fattal (USA)Rita Keszthelyi (HUN)Maud Megens (NED)Fina placings:1. United States of America2. Netherlands3. Italy4. Australia5. Greece6. Russia7. Spain8. Russia9. Hungary10. Brazil11. Canada     12. Kazakhstan13. New Zealand14. France15. Japan16. South Africa



Classification 1-2 (Gold Medal)

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

Referees: Sergey Naumov (RUS), Massimiliano Caputi (ITA).

Extra Man: USA: 1/11. NED: 1/7.

Pens: NED:  0/1.


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Samantha Hill, Madeline Musselman (1), Melissa Seidemann, Rachel Fattal (2), Alys Williams, Maggie Steffens, Courtney Mathewson (1), Kiley Neushul (1), Ashley Grossman, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Makenzie Fischer, Kami Craig, Ashleigh Johnson. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

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


USA Team on the podium ©Giorgio Perottino / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto


Match Report:

USA made it a clean sweep of all the women’s water polo trophies with a 5-4 victory over the Netherlands. USA trailed only in the first period and had a two-goal margin for much of the final period. Dutch captain Yasemin Smit scored the opening goal at 1:59 with a bouncer on the right side of the pool to take a lead to the second quarter. It was not long before USA was on the board as Rachel Fattal, voted Most Valuable Player of the tournament, scored from the left at 7:00. Madeline Musselman added another on counter and USA was in its usual, comfortable position in front. Nearly three minutes later Lieke Klaassen upset the lead on counter herself for 2-2. Later in the period, Dutch head coach Arno Havenga gained a yellow card. The long break came and went and it was Fattal who proved her worth to the team at 6:55 with a second goal. Maud Megens, out to emulate her mother, 1991 World Championship gold medallist Patricia Libregts, scored her 12th of the tournament on extra from the left-post position. Kiley Neushul scored down the right at 4:36 and it looked like another USA shot went across the line, but it was denied as it bobbled on the line at 3:31. Never mind, USA scored through Courtney Mathewson from shot from the top that went straight down to the left corner for 5-3 at 0:35. The Dutch called a timeout, however, nothing came from talk and the final break of the championship arrived. The crucial third period was won 3-1 by the USA. Catharina van der Sloot had a penalty attempt blocked by goalkeeper of the tournament Ashleigh Johnson (USA) at 4:02 of the final period, but the Dutch weren’t out of the picture as Megens, named to the Media All Star team, received a long cross pass to beat Johnson for 4-5 at 3:13. She scored four goals in the semifinal against Italy, proving she is a big-game player. In the final minute, Johnson made two crucial saves that gave USA victory, proving her the best goalie of the Championship.


Chris Oeding (USA)_ — Assistant Coach
“The Dutch came out with tempo and physical play and we had trouble early on with forced errors and we were out of synch and were made to work for every goal that we got. There were little nerves on both sides and trading goals early on. What gave us the game was Ashleigh (Johnson) in goal. She gave us a lot of confidence in those moments when most needed. “ On holding all four world trophies at once: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet. I was involved in the last couple and it’s incredible and each is unique in its own way. We have so many new kids on the team. It’s their first.”

Rachel Fattal (USA) — Tournament MVP as voted by Media
“It was surreal. We played well together, we were balanced and our defence we nailed. Ash Johnson is just an amazing player and we played as a team the whole time. If you have an amazing goalkeeper behind you in defence it leads to  (good) offence. There are a lot of newcomers to the team.” On how long she would celebrate the victory: “Just tonight.” On how many of the four crowns she holds: “Three of the four; I did not play the Olympics (London). Hopefully next year will be the cherry on the top.”

Arno Havenga (NED) — Head Coach
“Unfortunately it was not a good evening. I think we played well, but we were not strong enough. I think we can be really satisfied this tournament. Every game we got a bit better. Now we look for the next step and the European Championships in Belgrade, then to Rio (Olympics). We will set new goals.”

Maud Megens (NED) — Daughter of 1991 World Champion Patricia Libregts (NED) and named to Media All Star team
“I get advice from her every game and what I can do better. I have learnt so much from her.” On if she spoke to her mother before the match: “Yes. She wished me luck. She is a nice mother who’s proud of her daughter. I get a lot of that.”

Laura Aarts (NED) — Goalkeeper
“If I look back now I am really pretty happy as we have a very young team and we did a great job. It’s a big shot for us for the future.”


Match 47: 20:30, AUSTRALIA 10 ITALY 12 in penalty shootout (FT: 7-7. Pens: 3-5)

Classification 3-4 (Bronze Medal)

Quarters: 2-3, 1-2, 2-0, 2-2. Pens: 3-5.

Referees: Frances Buch (ESP), Vojin Putnikovic (SRB).

Extra Man: AUS: 2/10. ITA: 2/9.

Pens: Nil


AUSTRALIA: Lea Yanitsas, Gemma Beadsworth (1), Hannah Buckling (1), Holly Lincoln-Smith, Keesja Gofers, Bronwen Knox, Rowena Webster (3), Glencora McGhie (1), Zoe Arancini, Ashleigh Southern (3), Bronte Halligan, Nicola Zagame (1), Kelsey Wakefield. Head Coach: Greg McFadden.

ITALY: Giulia Gorlero, Chiara Tabani, Arianna Garibotti (2), Elisa Queirolo (1), Federica Radicchi, Rosarie Aiello (2), Tania di Mario (4), Roberta Bianconi (2), Giulia Emmolo, Francesca Pomeri, Laura Barzon (1), Teresa Frassinetti, Laura Teani. Head Coach: Fabio Conti.

Match report:

Italy came from one behind to be level at 7-7 with Australia and went on to win the penalty shootout. At the start, Nicola Zagame had two open chances, but did not follow through at the start of the match, the first time unsure if it was her free throw or not on counter. Rowena Webster opened the scoring with a centre-forward backhand, followed by an Ashleigh Southern shot on extra for 2-0 by 5:04. Then Italy came alive with three unanswered goals through captain Roberta Bianconi, Arianna Garibotti, both on extra, and a centre-forward shot from Rosaria Aiello. Three goals in two minutes exactly. A last-gasp shot from Webster cross the bar and Italy had the lead at the first break. Webster equalised from deep left after the exclusion period at the start of the second period and Tania di Mario found a channel down the middle on extra for 4-3 on the next attack. The Aussie Stingers took a timeout, but the attack was hesitant as much as Italy’s confidence was building. That confidence soared to new heights as di Mario sent in a lob from halfway into the top right for 5-3 at 2:23. Italy tried a timeout ploy unsuccessfully, but still had a two-goal buffer for the second half. Zagame missed an excellent one-on-one opportunity at the start of the third period and made up for it with a extra-man strike for 4-5 at 4:51. It was only the second goal for Australia in 16 minutes of play. A timeout each and there were no rewards. Southern collected her second goal on counter, electing to bounce in off the right post from six metres at 1:06 for 5-5. Italy lost the ball on a full attack and Australia did not shoot in the 26 seconds it had before the final break. Italy was kept scoreless for more than 10 minutes. The 36-year-old di Marion, Olympic champion in 2004, won the swim for the final quarter. Glencora McGhie spun a ball in through Giulia Golero’s hands for the opening goal from wide right at 7:02, regaining the lead for the first time since the late first quarter. Australian captain Bronwen Knox gained her third major foul and di Marion scored her third of the match and 10th of the tournament at 4:53 for 6-6. Hannah Buckling converted extra-man off the left post for 7-6 at 4:16. Both teams did not score and then when Italy regained the ball and called timeout, an ejection was called against Webster giving Italy a man up, which Aiello proudly tipped in off the near-post position on the left for 7-7 at 2:46. Federica Radicchi went for three majors but the Aussie shot was blocked. Italy had the ball stolen and at the other end controversy as Holly Lincoln-Smith was driving for goal and the ball turned over as she shot. Italy lost the ball at the end as the match went into the final minute. Southern shot from five metres and bounced over the top. Garibotti’s shot was blocked and the match went to a shootout — the second of the day’s short programme. Italy started first and there ewere eight straight scores before a change of goalie by Italy brought Laura Teani into play. She was responsible for stopping Hannah Buckling’s shot for Australia and Garibotti sent in the winner to the delight of her team-mates. Australia and Italy are in the club of five nations to win all colours of medals at World Championships. Australia won the inaugural title in 1986 and collected two silvers, including at Barcelona in 2013, and has one bronze. Italy has two crowns, from Perth 1998 and Fukuoka 2001; one silver and now two bronzes.

The Italian team celebrating the bronze medal - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


Fabio Conti (ITA) — Head Coach
“The key to our game was the penalties. It may be that the penalties go another way.  Some go in and some don’t. We played a very, very good game. When we play against Australia it is a very difficult game. Australia is very difficult, very strong and very physical. Today we came and played with a big heart.”

Elisa Queirolo (ITA)
“It was a very, very good finish. We won this medal. After the match against Netherlands we organised our ideas, did a very good game and we finished in a better way. We deserved it.”

Greg McFadden (AUS) — Head Coach
“We didn’t make the most of our opportunities early. We could have put the game away early, especially when 2-0 up. We let them back. It was positive that we were in for the fight, but I said it before, it’s a shit way to lose. We’re really went out to win, but we didn’t perform to our expectations. Now we have to debrief and see what’s the best way to move forward.”

Ash Southern (AUS) — Two goals in action play
“We were feeling pretty confident for the shootout, but it’s all about what happened in the game. We were unlucky. It was always going to be physical. There were some missed opportunities that could have been scored.”


Match 46: 15:30, CHINA 13 GREECE 12 in penalty shootout (FT: 9-9. Pens: 4-3)

Classification 5-6

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

Referees: Mark Koganov (AZE), Gyorgy Kun (HUN)

Extra Man: CHN: 1/2. GRE: 1/5.

Pens: Nil.


CHINA: Jun Yang, Jianing Tian, Xiaohan Mei, Dunhan Xiong, Guannan Niu (5), Yating Sun, Donglun Song (1), Cong Zhang, Zihan Zhao (4), Weiwei Zhang (2), Xinyan Wang (1), Jing Zhang, Lin Peng. Head Coach: Rick Azevedo (USA).

GREECE: Eleni Kouvdou, Christina Tsoukala, Stefania Charalampidi (4), Christina Kotsia, Margarita Plevritou, Alkisti Avramidou (1), Alexandra Asimaki (4), Antigoni Roumpesi (1), Ioanna Charalampidi, Triantafyllia Manolioudaki, Eleftheria Plevritou (2), Eleni Xenaki, Chrysoula Diamantopoulou. Head Coach: Georgios Morfesis.

Match Report:

This was a match that seemed assured of a penalty shootout as the teams were equal throughout. China was never headed and Greece had to come back seven times to level. It was also a match dominated by the stars. China’s new sensation was Guannan Niu and she did not disappoint. Coming into the match she had a scored 13 goals. Today she netted five, including two in the last. Zihan Zhao scored three to lift her to 19 for the championship. On the other side of the ledger, it was powerhouse centre forward Alexandra Asimaki, who scored four goals from centre forward in her inimitable style. Her fast sweep at 1:19 was the leveler that forced the shootout. Greece went first, missing the second and fourth attempts, while China missed its third, sadly by Niu. With the match locked at 12-12, it was left to Zhang Weiwei to end the match for a 4-3 penalty win. China finished ninth in Barcelona two years ago and took the silver medal behind Greece in 2011. Greece was sixth in Barcelona, just two years after winning in Shanghai, its sole medal at this level.

CHN vs GRE - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


Rick Azevedo (USA) — China Head Coach

“I think they were excellent. I changed five players in January, including two, two-time Olympians. They played tactically smart. They don’t get emotional.” On his quiet demeanour on pool deck: “I’m not the type of coach who yells and screams at the girls. Coaching is for practices. I’m proud that they played every single match with more confidence, especially on offence and counter attack.”

Dunhan Xiong (CHN) — 17 years old
On her first experience of a World Championship: “I was so nervous, but it was also exciting.” On the best match: “Against Australia, because we came so close to top four.” On what she did when she made the water: “I went into centre and I tried my best to shoot each time.”

Alexandra Asimaki (GRE) — Four Goals
On having to come back to level the match all the time: “I don’t know why that happened. I think we played a lot better today and it was a different China from before. We were OK on offence and we equalised a lot. We played with more passion, at least. We want to go to Rio (2016 Olympics) so badly as we were not in London after some big successes. It’s hard to qualify in a structure like this and only eight teams. We have to work more. Our team can make it. I believe in my team.”


Match 45: 14:00, SPAIN 15 RUSSIA 10

Classification 7-8

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

Referees: Radoslaw Koryzna (POL), Nenad Peris (CRO).

Extra Man: ESP: 2/9. RUS: 5/14.

Pens: ESP: 1/1. RUS: 2/2.


SPAIN: Laura Ester, Marta Bach, Anna Espar (1), Paula Leiton, Matilde Ortiz (1), Jennifer Pareja (2), Clara Espar, Pilar Pena (1), Judith Forca (2), Roser Tarrago (4), Maica Garcia (1), Laura Lopez (3), Patricia Herrera. Head Coach: Miguel Oca.

RUSSIA: Anastasia Verkhoglyadova, Tatiana Zubkova, Ekaterina Prokofyeva (1), Elvina Karimova (1), Ekaterina Zubacheva, Anastasia Simanovich (2), Ekaterina Lisunova (2), Evgeniia Abdriziakova (1), Anna Timofeeva, Ekaterina Tankeeva, Evgeniya Ivanova (3), Nadezhda Iarondaikina, Anna Karnaukh. Head Coach: Mikhail Nakoryakov.

Match report:

Outgoing world champion Spain was too strong for Russia, finding gaps all over the pool in which it could manoeuvre. The match was played at a great pace, due more to poor defence at both ends as players managed to display their shooting prowess. Spain had the two-goal quarter advantage and stretched the margin to 7-4. Evgeniya Ivanova converted a penalty at 4-6, but after Laura Lopez gave Spain the three-goal margin, Ivanova struck twice more as Russia levelled at 7-7 late in the second quarter. However, Spain went to 10-7 and 12-8 by the end of the third and a victory for the Russian Minister of Sport, Vitaly Mutko, was not looking good. Russian captain Ekaterina Prokofyeva converted a penalty to start the fourth period for her 12th goal of the tournament, only for Spain to grab two more for 14-9, putting the match well beyond the reach of Russia, who finished the 2013 edition in Barcelona in fourth position while in Shanghai four years ago it was a bronze medal. In fact, Russia had finished no worse than fourth since 2003 and has four bronze medals from World Championships. For Spain it was a big drop from top spot in Barcelona but far better than 11th in Shanghai. In the individual standings, Ivanova top-scored for Russia with 15 goals and Roser Tarrago’s four goals today lifted her to best with 14.

ESP vs RUS - Photo credit: Giorgio Scala/Deepbluemedia


Miguel Oca (ESP) — Head Coach