United States of America is hunting its seventh consecutive and 14th title when it fronts Hungary in Saturday's gold-medal final. USA caught a wave to the final, beating Russia 17-8 after a close first period. Hungary recovered from two down to get past Group A winner Canada 14-10. Hungary achieves the remarkable, having only placed third in its preliminary-round group. USA and Hungary met in the inaugural 2004 event with USA the winner.
United States of America continued its run of major-championship finals appearances with a typically well-crafted 17-8 victory over Russia.
Russia was in the picture at 4-3 down late in the first period but had to wait until very late in the third period before scoring again. That was nearly 18 minutes of scoring inactivity, something that does not bode well for winning vital matches. Mel Seidemann made it 5-3 three seconds from time with a centre-forward goal off a cross pass.
USA sent in four more in the second quarter, including a Madeline Musselman penalty goal.
In the third quarter, Musselman started the scoring, netting when two Russians were sidelined and Makenzie Fischer converted USA’s third penalty. It was Nadezhda Glyzina who brought some long-awaited joy to Russia with an excellent lob from the left side of the pool at 0:39. Stephanie Haralabidis converted USA’s fourth penalty for 13-4 at the final break.
The final eight minutes were tight with Russia scoring first and USA responding twice for 15-5. Russia won the next four minutes 3-2, giving it hope for the bronze-medal play-off.
Russia’s all-round play was exemplified with eight different players scoring goals. Seven USA players made the scoring list with Musselman, Haralabidis and Makenzie Fischer grabbing three each. Another statistic worthy of note was USA’s relatively poor showing on extra-man attack, converting just four from 11 chances.
Full match statistics — http://results.microplustiming.com/athens2021
Hungary forced its way into the gold-medal final against United States of America with a 14-10 margin over Group A winner Canada.
Although Canada led 2-0, Hungary had a one-goal advantage at the first break, two goals at halftime and four at the final break.
Canada’s start was a continuation of its excellent play all tournament. Hungary, who came through the group phase with only one win was out to prove it could be done and rattled in four unanswered goals with a pair to Natasa Rybanska on extra-man attack.
Rita Keszthelyi pushed it out to 5-3 early in the second quarter, from the top on extra before Kelly McKee pulled one back from deep left. Shae La Roche converted extra to bring Canada to within one again after Anna Illes sent one in from the top. That 6-5 was the closest Canada would approach Hungary for the rest of the match. Aniko Gyongyossy latched on to a rebound and backhanded the ball into goal to close the half at 7-5. Canadian goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault looked in distress and was escorted from the pool, but she was fit enough to resume the next quarter.
Twice Canada came within two goals of Hungary early in the third period — Kyra Christmas fired in a missile over the shoulder of the high-performing Hungarian goalkeeper Alda Magyari from nine metres out and Emma Wright lobbed from the top. In the blink of an eye, Hungary smashed in three goals, including as penalty strike, and the match was virtually over, Hungary leading 12-7. Canada netted twice with the score closing the period at 13-9.
In the last quarter, both teams battened the hatches and it took nearly four minutes for Hungary to adjust the scoreboard with and extra-man goal top Keszthelyi. More than two minutes later, La Roche scored the final goal off the right-hand-catch position and Canada’s dream of going one better than its two silver medals at this level, were dashed.
For Hungary, it’s been a long time coming. It last met USA in the final in 2004, the inaugural year of the World League. What it wants is to reverse that result and finish atop the dais and end USA’s long run of gold medals.