The four groups will be decided on day three as eight teams have all arrived at the final group stage without a loss. Italy and Hungary will do battle for Group A, United States of America and Greece will face off in Group B, Netherlands and Australia go head to head for Group C and Spain and New Zealand will decide the winner of Group D. New Zealand was the most closely pressed, beating Croatia 13-12.
Group Progress Points:
Group A: Italy 4, Hungary 4, Kazakhstan 0, Turkey 0.
Group B: United States of America 4, Greece 4, Uzbekistan 0, Japan 0.
Group C: Netherlands 4, Australia 3, Canada 1, South Africa 0.
Group D: Spain 4, New Zealand 4, Croatia 0, Serbia 0.
Photos courtesy of Sandic Photography
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 23 JAPAN 2
USA was untroubled, once again, to eclipse Japan by a huge margin. It was more than a training outing as USA obviously conserved energy for the tougher matches ahead and made certain on practising plays, instead of going for sometimes obvious and open goals. USA went 9-1, 12-1 and 19-1 at the breaks. USA had the better skills, scored well on action and used long cross passes to excellent effect. Japan scored its first goal at 7-1 with a 10m shot and netted the second at 22-2, with a seven-metre strike. Japan was shut out of good scoring opportunities as USA stole, countered and set up plays. USA converted five from five on extra-man attack and Japan none from four.
Emily Ausmus collected the MVP award with her five goals from seven shots. Jenna Flynn and Julia Bonaguidi collected four each. Haru Yamamoto scored both Japan’s scores as Japan took 28 shots compared to USA’s 38.
What they said
Emily Ausmus (USA) —Player of the Match
“I think it was a good game. We were really focusing on our defence, which helped push our offence. I believe it’s a team score and that we really helped set each other up. Everybody was very cheerful and many of us had our names on the scoreboard.”
Jenna Flynn (USA) – Goal Scorer
“Our defence did a good job leading up to our offence. I think we did a very good job communicating with everyone in the pool and that helped us stay on the same page and execute our plans. There are many things we can improve by playing as a team or even by playing individually. For me, the most important thing is vision; opening our eyes so we can set someone up for a better shot.”
GREECE 15 UZBEKISTAN 5
Greece had the better of Uzbekistan and registered a second victory, setting itself up for a blockbuster group decider against USA on Wednesday. Greece converted extra-man attack twice as it surged to 4-0 at the first break, struck resistance from Uzbekistan in the second quarter for a 7-3 halftime lead and closed the third at 11-5. Uzbekistan’s first goals came from a 10-metre bomb by Ugiloy Abdulkhaeva and then a second from the top. Greece had a VAR decision go against it for what could have been 12-4 and then Uzbek goalkeeper Valeriya Konovalova repeated her antics of Tuesday with a halfway missile for 11-5 in the dying seconds of the third period. Her second-quarter attempt came unstuck when her shot was blocked and Christina Siouti launched a long range shot from her two-metre line, that bounced into the open goal for 7-3. Konovalova came up twice more in the final quarter with one shot being deflected and not getting the chance to shoot on the fourth sortee.
Sofia Tornarou claimed the spoils thanks to her six goals from eight attempts, Stefania Santa blasted in four more. Greece converted only three from nine on extra-man attack and Uzbekistan missed its only chance.
What she said
Sofia Tornarou (GRE) — Player of the Match
On your team being proud of you for becoming an MVP: “Of course, they are (laughs). This is all an outcome of a team effort. Everyone supports each other a lot. We need to stay focused and do how our coaches have advised us. I hope we will have the same outcome as we did today.”
NETHERLANDS 18 CANADA 8
Netherlands collected a second win against a defiant Canada, especially in the latter stages. The Dutch went on counter in the first quarter and were 6-0 up before Canada woke up and claimed the next three before the quarter-time break. It was tighter in the second period at 3-1, but the 5-2 third showed that the Dutch were the better team. The 4-2 scoring in the fourth was closed down at 4:44 with both teams fiercely defending their territory until the final buzzer. Canada gained two penalty goals to one in the final quarter.
Noa De Vries was named best in pool as she and senior international Lola Moolhuijzen scored five goals each for Netherlands. Serena Browne, who blasted in 10 against Australia on day one, netted three for Canada — one from the penalty line and an excellent centre-forward goal, although she had her first penalty attempt blocked — before she was fouled out. Netherlands converted three from six on extra while Canada could not pierce the defence with its two chances.
What they said
Noa de Vries (NED) — Player of the Match
Before you came here, did you believe you would become an MVP? “You never know how it will go. I was thinking that it’s possible. I’m happy.”
Simone Lapierre (CAN) – Goalkeeper
“I think we can learn from this and work as a team more. We can really play better in the next games and prove to them that we can win this, and this is how we play all the time. We can beat better teams like this.” Will you try to improve something, if so, what? “Communication. I think we lacked that, but the more we play, the more we get to know each other, and the more we can speak and understand each other.”
AUSTRALIA 12 SOUTH AFRICA 5
Australia beat fellow Commonwealth nation South Africa to place second in the group as Canada — the third Commonwealth nation in the foursome — was beaten by Netherlands, thus slipping to third. Canada could still finish second in the group considering what happens on Wednesday. Australia countered four times for a 5-1 quarter-time advantage. The second quarter was different as South Africa put up stout resistance, gaining a centre-forward goal and then giving up a penalty and an action goal to the Aussies. It could have been 7-3 as South Africa had a two-on-one attack, five metres out, when the buzzer sounded. Early in the third period, a VAR decision gave Australia an earlier goal after South Africa had scored for 8-4. The result changed to 9-3 as the South African goal was disallowed and the clock wound back. Australia made it 11-4 on the buzzer and the final period was drawn 1-1.
Allegra Childs was best in water with three goals for the Aussies, the same number Magali Ogg scored. Jenna Weppelman and Catherine Williamson netted two each for the South Africans. Defence was the key as Australia converted two from nine extra-man attempts to South Africa’s none from eight.
What they said
Magali Ogg (AUS) – Player
I think we’ve improved a lot from yesterday; we were a lot better as a team and I still think we have so much more to improve on.”
Etienne le Roux (RSA) — Head Coach
“Australia were very good; they were very physical and I think in the first half they really caught us napping a bit, and they took quite a bit of a lead and then we managed to kind of hold up and fight up, so… Very well done to Australia; they were very good experienced team and we’re happy to have a privilege to play against them.” Do you think you could maybe improve something for tomorrow? “Definitely, I think we need to learn how to stop a few counter-attacks against us, but this is all a learning process for my girls and we’ll be sure to give Canada our best shot if we can just stop their breakaways.”
NEW ZEALAND 13 CROATIA 12
New Zealand threw away a five-goal lead to allow Croatia to come to level pegging 45 seconds from the final buzzer. However, a magnificent Millie Quin centre-forward goal from four metres secured the victory 19 seconds from the buzzer. It was there for Croatia to win and New Zealand to lose after the Kiwis closed the quarter at 4-1, was comfortable at 6-3 by halftime, maintaining that advantage at 11-8 by the final break. New Zealand was 9-4, 10-5 and 11-6 up in the third before Croatia scored on a drive and counter to be within three heading into the fourth. Croatia made it four unanswered goals by 5:31 in the fourth for 11-10 behind. New Zealand converted from the penalty line and Croatia lobbed by 3:10. Then the match was ripped open when Ria Glas fired in a six-metre -foul shot to level the match for the first time. With 45 seconds on the clock, anything could happen, but Quin made sure of the Kiwi win.
Goalkeeper Islay Martin-Hill was the saviour for New Zealand with the critical centre-forward backhand shot save in the dying seconds to secure the win. She was named player of the match. Team-mate Quin scored four while Croatia’s highest were Glas and Nina Medic with three apiece. The Kiwis had the better of extra-man attack with four from 10 compared with Croatia’s one from 11. That was the difference in the match.
What they said
Islay Martin-Hill (NZL) – Player of the Match
“I honestly think this game was amazing and that all the girls put their best efforts and eventually we managed to place our team on the winning side. I think that our communication throughout the game was outstanding we were all consulting and telling when to cover.” On being named MVP: “I was speechless, in shock and disbelief."
Nina Medic (CRO) – Goal Scorer
“We opened the game very badly. As the game was coming to an end we gradually played more efficiently. Ria Glas scored an equaliser for us, but then New Zealand made a point in the last second. We didn’t give up, but they were stronger than us. Tomorrow will be better.”
SPAIN 18 SERBIA 7
Spain beat a second Balkan nation — downing Croatia 17-3 on day one — with an all-round performance, using the whole team and scoring from all positions, including a maximum four from four on extra-man attack. Serbia netted one from four. It was tough going early on with Spain holding the edge 3-1 at the quarter break, lifting it to 9-3 at halftime and 15-5 by the last break. The best goal of the night was reserved for centre forward Giorgia Gallinato who took the ball, turned her opponent and then stretched to the right to get the ball around the goalkeeper into the net. Spain looked good at two metres with four goals coming from the position.
Daniela Moreno was named best player with three goals and team-mate Marina Serrano top-scored with four as nine Spanish players made the sheet. Tijana Lukic scored a hat-trick for Serbia, a first for her nation.
What they said
Daniela Moreno (ESP) – Player of the Match
“I’m proud of our team.” Is there anything you’d like to change about your team? “Sincerely, no. I think that we are working very well … I expect it to continue like that.”
Jana Lujic (SRB) – Player
“We knew it would be hard to play against Spain because they are the best in the world, but our team was good today. It’s a big motivation for us (playing for our country), but also a bit of pressure. Tomorrow we’ll be playing against Croatia, so we’ll be better than today. It will be a hard game against Croatia; they are a very good team and we need to do our best to win.”
HUNGARY 15 KAZAKHSTAN 1
Hungary kept Kazakhstan at bay until 2:05 in the final quarter in what was a tough match. Hungary needed four penalty goals to massage the score, even missing the first opportunity. The 3-0 first quarter expanded to 8-0 by halftime and 10-0 by the final break, so it was no easy charge for Hungary. In fact, in a rarity here in Belgrade, there were no counter-attack goals. Also, Hungary needed six of its goals to come from extra-man attack, missing just the one attempt. Kazakhstan was not given the pleasure of a Hungarian ejection. So, 10 of Hungary’s goals came from set plays, something it will need to adjust in the harder matches to come. It was Hungary’s second win and sits it second in the group on goal differential with the all-important clash against Italy on Wednesday to decide who goes straight to the quarter-finals.
What they said
Szonja Golopencza (HUN) – Goalkeeper and Player of the Match
“Our defence is our smoking gun. I have scored only once, but regardless of that, I hope we will maintain this quality of play and cooperation. I have never been the MVP before, so hearing this is mesmerising and captivating. I always wanted to become the MVP, and this was quite a surprise for me.”
Marat Naurazbekov (KAZ) — Head Coach
“Our defence was on point, but our attack is something that we should work on. The crucial game for our team will take place tomorrow, against Turkey, and in order to qualify for the rest of the competition, we need a skilful game, which should result in victory. We have practised a lot of useful tactics, but our team does not manage to implement them efficiently, which is an issue we are actively working on.”
ITALY 35 TURKEY 2
Italy broke through the 50-goal mark in Belgrade with an emphatic display over Turkey and in doing so collected a second win and a shot at Hungary on Wednesday for the group decider. Italy scored 20 goals on counter-attack, although others could be added depending on how you watched the finishing. Eight of those came in the first quarter as Italy took a commanding 10-1 lead, pushing on to 18-1 at the long break and 25-3 by the final recess. Turkey set up a stronger defence in the last two quarters as it struggled to return with the faster-swimming Italians. Turkey might have a better showing against Kazakhstan in the final group match.
Italian Lavinia Papi, not surprisingly, was best in pool with nine goals, the second highest individual match effort this week. She was joined on the nine-goal mark by Aurora Longo. Italy converted two from three on extra-man attack and Turkey a commendable two from four.
What they said
Marta Misiti (ITA) — Player
“Overall, the game was good, and our goal was to score as many goals as possible in order to surpass the opponent. The most important battle for our team will be tomorrow against Hungary. My team is very skilled when it comes to having an extra player; we know how to use that advantage.”
Deniz Adigüzel (TUR) — Player
“It was a valuable experience, and it will help us improve our play and further prepare in order to reach the top.”