Netherlands, Greece, Hungary and Spain are through to the quarter-finals after winning their groups at the FINA Women’s Youth Water Polo World Championships after day-three action. They will have a day to rest, reflect and train while the second round is played to find the other four quarter-finalists for the medal round. The fourth team in each group will play the 13-16 classification semifinals on Thursday.
Group A: Hungary 6, Italy 4, Kazakhstan 2, Turkey 0.
Group B: Greece 6, United States of America 4, Uzbekistan 2, Japan 0.
Group C: Netherlands 6, Australia 3, Canada 3, South Africa 0.
Group D: Spain 6, New Zealand 4, Croatia 2, Serbia 0.
Day 4 Programme:
12.00 Match 25 Turkey-Japan
13.30 Match 26 South Africa-Serbia
16.00 Match 27 Italy-Uzbekistan
17.30 Match 28 Kazakhstan-United States of America
19.00 Match 29 Australia-Croatia
20.30 Match 30 Canada-New Zealand
Netherlands made sure of the group victory and direct entry to the quarter-finals with a controlled match against Australia. The Dutch forced the Aussies out and made them shoot from longer distances, which they did not like. The Dutch, however, were strong from outside and deadly. Both teams enjoyed the centre-forward position. Netherlands was on top 5-2 at the quarter, boosted by a penalty goal and one on counter. The Dutch scored the only goal in the second quarter — on extra-man attack — and won the third 3-1 with the third goal beating the buzzer from a foul outside six metres. Australia was tentative on selecting shooting options, but scored the opening goal of the fourth after a long period of inactivity on the scoresheet. Netherlands responded with a penalty strike for the final score of 10-4. Both halves were 5-2 in favour of Netherlands, who now has a day’s break while Australia, who finished second in the group by virtue of its better plus-one goal advantage to Canada’s minus two, gets another chance to improve playing combinations and skills in the second round with a better ranking and a clash with Croatia. Canada takes on New Zealand and that should be an equal contest.
Lisa Backer, Netherlands’ goalkeeper, was named player of the match for her sterling effort at dragging down a large number of Australia’s 30 shots. Feline Voordouw netted three goals for the Dutch and Australian Kali-Yah Taafili-Taoso scored twice. Netherlands converted two from four on extra-man attack and Australia none from three.
What they said
Lisa Backer (NED) – Goalkeeper and Player of the Match
“I think it was a good game. It was an exciting game. We had practised a lot against them, as well, so I think both teams knew a lot about the other team. Because of that we had to play very tactical and know what the other team was going to do.”
Sienna Green (AUS) – Goal Scorer
“I think we came in with some goals and we did execute it, of course, it wasn’t as good we wanted it to be, but we are all happy that we got through where we wanted to be.
SOUTH AFRICA 7 CANADA 15
Canada had to come from 3-1 down in the first quarter to level early in the second, progress to 6-3 at halftime with a buzzer beater and then head into the final quarter with a handsome 13-4 margin. South Africa looked confident in that first period, but could not contain the aggression as Canada slowly came back and started scoring off unguarded shots all too often. The 12-4 goal was easier still as goalkeeper Liyakhanya Ndamane was inexplicably behind her goal and the coach, with his back turned to the pool, did not notice. She was immediately replaced after the goal was scored. The fourth period started with South Africa finding renewed energy with consecutive goals and looking far more dangerous. However, Canada may have lost the period 3-2, but it came up with its first victory to go with the first-day draw with Australia. However, it finished third on goal differential while South Africa was fourth. Canada will play New Zealand and South Africa meets host Serbia.
Canada’s Ashley Ferguson claimed the player-of-the-match award with her three goals while four team-mates sent in two each. Nine Canadian players scored. For South Africa, Rebecca Currie, Jenna Weppelman and Catherine Williamson scored two each with the last two centre-forward goals.
What they said
Brooklyn Plomp (CAN) – Two Goals
“I think we had a really good game. We had a little bit slower start, but then we started waking up and working more as a team together. I think, overall, it was a good game, better than yesterday, that’s for sure, so I think we learned a lot from our game yesterday.”
Olufunke Gando (RSA) – Goalkeeper
“I think that we really tried our best. I think that there were some times when we kind of fell off the wagon. I know our first quarter was probably our best, and I think this is probably not our best game, but I am still proud of my team. We know we are really good in our heart and we can do so much better.”
SPAIN 17 NEW ZEALAND 11
In a match of 28 goals, incredibly 14 of them came in the opening quarter. It was a flurry of excitement as goals were raining in from all directions and not just for one side. Spain closed the period 8-6 ahead and only managed to get the margin to 11-7 by halftime. It was 3-2 in the third and fourth periods, showing not only Spain’s prowess to win, but also the resilience of the Kiwis in not laying down at any stage in the match. It was a physical encounter and New Zealand failed to get some calls in the final stages, but Spain had the precision, the speed and the penetrating shots. New Zealand relied on power at the top and matched Spain at the centre-forward position. Spain finished top of the group and New Zealand is well placed at second spot and will clash with Canada for the right to go to the top eight.
Alba Munoz was the four-goal hero for Spain in a team where three others scored a hat-trick — Daniela Moreno, Isabel Piralkova and Queralt Bertran. For the Kiwis, Millie Quin topped the scoring with three — 14 for the week — and another three netted twice. Extra-man attack proved critical with Spain converting five from eight and New Zealand three from eight. Spain converted two from three at the penalty line and the Kiwis two from two.
What they said
Isabel Piralkova (ESP) – Three Goals
“I think we had a good game. In the first quarter, we started a little bit confused, we didn’t start the game as we wanted and as the game was going, we were getting better. We know what we have to do and we are not nervous.”
Agatha Weston (NZL) – Two Goals
“I’m very proud of the girls, it was such a good match. They are the reigning champions and it is a very respectful score, very proud. It’s the first time in years we are here and the results so far are mind-blowing, way more than we expected. It is just incredible.”
SERBIA 7 CROATIA 18
Croatia won the battle of the Balkans with a six-goal burst in the final quarter that blew away the closeness of the match. Croatia was by the far more prepared with a 5-1 opening quarter; Serbia won the second 3-2, but Croatia swamped Serbia 5-1 in the third period, turning 7-4 into 12-5. Serbia scored the first two of the final period for 12-7, only for Croatia to swim away with the match. It was the second consecutive day that Serbia scored seven goals. Croatia now has 33 goals in the tournament and will need that experience when it comes up against Australia in the cross-overs. Serbia will play South Africa in the round 13-16 semifinals.
Jelena Butic (CRO) netted seven shots to claim the match award and nine goals in Belgrade. She scored three from out the top, including a booming 10m blast for 15-7. Jana Lujic scored four, lifting her tally to seven from three matches. Serbia scored one from nine on extra-man while Croatia buried five from eight.
What they said
Mia Simunic (CRO) – Head Coach
“Thanks to the versatile goalkeeper Latica Medvesek, who has saved a lot of attacks, outstanding Jelena Butic, who has scored seven times, and all the other dedicated team members, we managed to finish this game as winners. We were committed throughout the entire game, even in the last quarter. I am so proud of my girls.”
Ivana Corovic (SRB) — Head Coach
“I cannot say that I am satisfied. As I told the girls, it is not the problem to lose the game if you are satisfied when you get out of the pool. Unfortunately, we were not on our highest level this evening. We had a bad start, but we got the chance to catch, and then it just looked like our team got numb and not interested in the full participation. Even though the result shows significant difference among these teams, I am convinced this is not the case. That’s the only conclusion I can extract out of this situation. Tomorrow is the new day, so we will hopefully lift our heads and spirits up.”
TURKEY 3 KAZAKHSTAN 14
Kazakhstan came up with the victory it needed to stay away from the bottom four and achieved the success through a 3-1 opening quarter that saw three penalty goals, repeated the 3-1 in the second and won the match with the 5-0 third period before closing with 3-1. Turkey has seven goals for the week and will be hoping for more when it tackles Japan in the round 13-16 semifinals on Thursday. Kazakhstan earns a tough encounter with USA in the second round for teams in the top 12. Kazakhstan nailed three from eight on extra while Turkey gained two from 10 attempts.
What she said
Darya Pochinok (KAZ) — Player of the Match
“We gave our best and everything we could in order to achieve this sweet victory. We have invested everything that we had, and we hope that our effort will result with the best possible outcome.”
ITALY 8 HUNGARY 12
Hungary overcame Italy quite convincingly for the four-goal victory and the group supremacy. It was constructed on a 3-1 opening quarter and 3-2 in the second. The third was tied at three and then Hungary took grasp of the match and pushed the margin to 12-6 and on to 12-8 as Italy converted two extra-man chances late in the match. There was a glimmer of hope for Italy as Hungary went to 7-3 with a score from the top to start the third quarter. Italy responded with a penalty goal, a goal off a rebound and then a near-post, extra-man goal to close within one. A centre-forward backhand by Eszter Varro snatched the advantage back to Hungary and this started the five-goal sprint that eventuated in a beautiful victory over frequent opponent Italy. Hungary has a rest day and Italy will play Uzbekistan for the right to appear in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Kata Hajdu topped the match scoring with four goals and took out the player-of-the-match award. She is equal top in the scoring in Belgrade with 15 goals, alongside Canada’s Serena Browne. She was one of seven Hungarian scorers. Emma De March threw in three for Italy.
What they said
Kata Hajdu (HUN) —Player of the Match
“I think we started the match a bit lazy, but then we woke up and scored goals and we didn’t let them score. I think we have to correct our mistakes in defence, but I think it will be better and better and I hope we can win this, and be first in the tournament. Our goalkeeper, Szonja (Golopencza), was really good and Italy couldn’t score on her.”
Livia Boldrini (ITA) — Two Goals
“It was a hard game, but our next game is against Japan, so we are getting ready.”
GREECE 15 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 14
Greece turned a 7-6 halftime deficit into a 15-14 victory. In truth, from that 7-6 scoreline, Greece dug deep and produced a daunting exhibition that had the North Americans reeling at 15-11 behind — a 9-4 period of play that turned and won the match. From that 15-11 margin, USA fired up, scored on extra-man attack, converted a penalty foul and sent one in on counter-attack. With 52 seconds remaining, there was still a chance, but the sole USA shot was saved and the match drifted to a Greek victory. Greece won the group and will have a day off and USA will take on Kazakhstan to progress further into medal contention.
Foteini Tricha (GRE) was best in pool with five goals from 10 attempts. Jenna Flynn nailed four goals for USA. The difference in the result could be attached to the extra-man count where Greece snared five from eight and USA only two from four.
What they said
Foteini Tricha (GRE) — Player of the Match
“This was a really tough and tiring game. We were really concentrating on what we had to do, and our effort eventually paid off, with the final result being the evidence. The (North) American team has a rather rigorous, versatile and progressive play. “
Ava Stryker (USA) – Goal Scorer
“I think we held under the pressure just because we have each others’ backs. We managed to overcome the difference of four goals just by playing together, as a team. They played a captivating game with us.”
UZBEKISTAN 19 JAPAN 11
Uzbekistan gained its first win and elevation from the bottom four with an action-packed 19-11 victory over Japan. Ugiloy Abdulkhaeva was the undoubted star of the match with six goals, four coming from two metres and one of those a tip-on on extra-man attack. Her fifth goal for 16-7 was an underwater looping flick with three defenders on her — just magnificent. Japan was always going to make it hard for Uzbekistan and kept the Uzbek lead to 5-2 at quarter time and 10-4 at halftime. The 4-3 third period proved how close Japan was at times. Uzbekistan raced out to 19-10 before Japan scored the last goal on extra-man attack, its only conversion of three attempts. Uzbekistan netted two from three.
Ugiloy Abdulkhaeva lifted her tournament tally to 11 with a six-goal haul and Anastasiya Berezina and Ulyana Umurzakova chimed in with four apiece. Japan’s best was Kaho Shironoshita with three goals.
What they said
Ugiloy Abdulkhaeva (UZB) – Player of the Match
“I enjoyed every minute of this game. I am proud of my team and I am thankful to my coach for all the useful advice he provided us with. Our coach suggested we play our own game, and as a team. Spectacular and ambitious acrobatics were not cherished.”
Haru Yamamoto (JPN) — Two Goals
“Knowing capabilities of our team, I think we could do much better. Those girls were considerably taller and in a more suitable shape than us, so we tried to overcome that hindrance by rapid movements and game development, which unfortunately proved to be not enough for the positive outcome.”