Reigning champion Spain was beaten 13-9 by United States of America in the medal quarter-finals of the FINA World Women’s Youth Water Polo Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on Friday. USA’s semifinal opponent will be Italy who stunningly pipped Netherlands 15-14 at the death while Hungary and Greece will meet in the other semifinal after downing Australia 12-10 and New Zealand 23-9 respectively. In the classification 9-12 semifinals, Croatia dumped Uzbekistan 22-5 and Canada surpassed Kazakhstan 14-7. Host Serbia finished the competition in 13th spot after defeating Japan 19-16 and South Africa took out 15th position, shutting out Turkey 12-9.
Sunday Day 6 Programme
12.00 Match 39 Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan
13.30 Match 40 Croatia-Canada
Classification 5-8 Semifinals
16.00 Match 41 Australia-New Zealand
17.30 Match 42 Netherlands Spain
Classification 1-4 Semifinals
19.00 Match 43 Hungary-Greece
20.30 Match 44 Italy-United States of America
Classification 1-4 Quarter-finals
Photos courtesy of Sandic Photography
HUNGARY 13 AUSTRALIA 10
Hungary was pressed all the way by Australia, but deservedly made the semifinals. Hungary started strongly going 2-0 up only for Australia to level. Hungary won the period 5-3 and went 6-3 ahead in the second with Australia coming back to 6-5 with an eight-metre shot. Rozalia Irmes sent in the 7-5 score on the halftime buzzer. Australia had the better of the early part of the third quarter, levelling at eight on counter-attack. Hungary scored a controversial 9-8 goal on extra-man attack, centre forward Tekla Szonja Aubeli gaining the kickout and then illegally shooting the goal from three metres. Despite Aussie protests and a bewildered crowd, the goal was upheld. It stunned the Aussies and Hungary closed the period with a penalty goal for 11-9. Hungary opened the fourth on extra, Australia replied and Hungary went on counter in the dying seconds with two cross passes for the 13-10 victory. The hard-fought win will assist Hungary in the remaining two matches and Australia can be proud of its effort, heading to the five-eight play-offs.
Kata Hajdu (HUN) collected another award for her play and five goals added to her tally, now second-ranked with 20 along with four others. Louisa Downes netted three for Australia. The extra-man count hurt Australia as Hungary converted eight from 14 and Australia only one from nine.
What she said
Kata Hajdu (HUN) – Player of the Match
“We all knew this match was going to be challenging, but thanks to the gradual improvement of our defence, we managed to leave this pool as semifinalists. I was very proud of myself, but this wouldn’t be real if my team didn’t properly support me, so I am thankful to every player of our team who has put as much as she could.”
GREECE 23 NEW ZEALAND 9
Greece is gunning for the title. Its high-level of agility, speed and shot selection was phenomenal against a New Zealand team, which tried hard to contain the darting opposition. Greece had a 6-1 lead at the end of the first quarter, including the buzzer-beating shot from just inside halfway. Three counter-attack goals stunned the Kiwis. Greece took complete control by the long break with 11-2. It was tighter in the third period with two penalty goals each and 16-6. The final quarter was a real blast at 7-3, asserting Greece’s dominance and chances in the medal rounds. One of the more interesting goals was when Greece went on counter and two Kiwis stayed behind, stole the ball from the goalkeeper and scored for 21-9, their last goal.
Nefeli-Chrysoula Chaldaiou (GRE) was named best in water with 100 per cent scoring from her five goals. Team-mate Stefania Santa netted five from seven attempts and sits near the top of the scoring ladder with 18 goals. For New Zealand, Brooke Fonoti had a day out with five goals from six attempts, including one penalty goal. It doubled her Belgrade tally. The big negative for the Kiwis was not scoring on five extra-man chances while Greece made sure of five from six.
What they said
Nefeli-Chrysoula Chaldaiou (GRE) – Player of the Match
“We feel happy. The next game is going to be difficult. We will effortlessly work in order to give our best and possibly end up as the winners.
Agatha Weston (NZL) — Player
“Well, it’s a bitter-sweet feeling, even though we have lost, we are very satisfied with our performance. At the end of the day, they are the better team, and that’s something we deeply admire.
NETHERLANDS 14 ITALY 16
How can a team lead by seven goals and then need to score a VAR-decision-winning goal at the death to win? Italy did. In this incredible match, both teams deserved to win — Italy for being the strongest starter and the Dutch for their sensational comeback to winning 13-7 for more than half the match. Italy did not stop playing; it was just the defence and goalkeeping that slowed its attack while Netherlands kept punching forward and taking every opportunity offered. It was truly sensational viewing. Italy had the 3-1 quarter-time lead and shot to 8-1 before the Dutch pegged back two by halftime. Netherlands was just 9-7 behind in the comeback, but Italy made it 11-8 by the final break. Italy went 12-8 and then 14-10 before the Dutch lifted and scored from the right, on counter at 3:03 and with a penalty at 1:49. At 1:22, the unthinkable happened as the Dutch countered to level the match with plenty of time to spare. The clock ticked as shots missed and then Italy gained a foul outside six metres and Morena Leone shot and scored on the final buzzer. It needed an agonisingly long VAR decision to confirm the ball had left the hand before the buzzer. Italy was through to the semifinals. Netherlands was distraught.
Italian goalkeeper Helga Maria Santapaola was the standout as Italy crept into the semifinals. Team-mate Leone notched three goals as nine Italians scored. Feline Voordouw grabbed four goals for the Dutch. Italy was more deadly on extra-man attack with six from eight compared to the Netherlands’ three from six.
SPAIN 9 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 13
USA virtually won the match in the opening quarter when it went three up. The second quarter gave up only two goals — one each. The third period cemented USA’s lead at 9-3, too far for Spain to come back from — or was it, considering Netherlands’ charge in the previous match. However, Spain was not beaten yet and worked hard all around the field, winning the period 6-4. It was too late as USA went seven up at 11-4 and the three-goal Spanish burst looked good with a centre-forward strike and two from the left side of the pool. Goals were then traded until the final 13-9 victory for USA. USA converted all three penalty shots and Spain one from its sole attempt. On extra-man attack, USA went two from four and Spain two from three.
The best player in the pool was Spain’s Daniela Moreno with six goals from 10 attempts and containing just the one penalty shot. She has a total of 16 goals in the tournament. Julia Bonagiudi (USA) gained the player-of-the-match award for three from three in action. Team-mate Jenna Flynn nailed five goals, three from the penalty line, lifting her Belgrade tally to 21, the best by one.
Classification 9-12 Semifinals
UZBEKISTAN 5 CROATIA 22
Croatia went on the rampage to secure a shot at ninth position in its first visit to these championships. The effort was sublime with action aplenty and well-taken shots, especially on extra-man attack. Croatia went 3-0 up and 4-1 by the first break, improved that to 9-1 by halftime and 14-1 at the end of three quarters. Uzbekistan stuck to its guns and came home with four goals — a penalty strike, one on counter-attack from the left side of the pool and one on extra from the left-post position. The final goal came from Croatia after the Uzbekistan goalkeeper came up to the two-metre line, only for the ball to be stolen at the top, passed to a free player and skipped into goal.
Croatians Eva Rozic hammered in eight goals to lift her tally to 19 and Jelena Butic seven from nine in the rout, taking her to 20. Ulyana Umurzakova netted three for Uzbekistan giving her 12 Belgrade goals. Croatia converted a fantastic 10 from 11 on extra-man attack, one of the best of the week. Uzbekistan made sure of two from three.
What she said
Nina Medic (CRO) — Three Goals
“We entered the game very focused and very concentrated and in the end we won with pretty big score and goal difference. I think we all played like a team. I think we all got some experience and I think it made our team grow.”
KAZAKHSTAN 7 CANADA 14
Canada shot into the seventh-place play-off with Croatia thanks to a controlled match, leading 3-0 in the first —with one VAR-confirmed goal — 5-1 at halftime and 10-4 after three periods. The fact that Kazakhstan could hold Canada to 4-3 in the final quarter showed spirit and desire. Kazakhstan had a penalty shot blocked in the final period, but scored an excellent extra-man goal in the last minute, crossing the ball to the left post to close the scoring.
Ella Cowan took out the major award with three goals for the winner while Serena Browne was on song as well, with three goals and a tournament tally of 19. Kazakhstan’s best was Valeriya Anossova with four goals. Canada’s extra-man count was four from eight and Kazakhstan one from six.
What she said
Ella Cowan (CAN) – Player of the Match
“I think we had tough losses, but we had a good recovery and lots of intensity.”
JAPAN 16 SERBIA 19
Maybe it was because it was the last match. Who knows? But everyone seemingly wanted to score goals in their last match of the championship. Eight Serbians made the scoresheet and six Japanese with goals coming thick and fast. The opening quarter produced nine goals with Serbia holding a 5-4 edge. Japan won the second quarter 4-2 and moved out to 9-7 at the start of the third period. Serbia struck back for 9-9 and swam away to 13-9 at the final break. Serbia stretched it to 14-9, 16-11 and 19-14. Japan was non-stop and scored the last-second counter-attack goal for 19-16. The match was tied at one, two, four, six, seven and nine. Both teams were good on extra-man attack with Serbia five from seven and Japan four from eight. Serbia was 15th four years ago, so 13th is an excellent progression. Japan was 10th in 2014 and 13th in 2016.
Jovana Radonjic (SRB) relished the action with seven goals from 10 shots and best player, taking her to 12 for the tournament. Tijana Lukic and Jana Lujic were Serbia’s highest scorers with 14 apiece. Haru Yamamoto scored six for Japan from 13 attempts and claimed a team-high 20 goals for the week.
What she said
Jovana Radonjic (SRB)– Player of the Match
“The game was unpredictable and we were a bit nervous. In the end, we won and that is really great.”
TURKEY 9 SOUTH AFRICA 12
South Africa turned a 6-2 deficit into a 12-9 victory, not equalising until 3:33 in the third period. Turkey started brilliantly with two excellent centre-forward goals to Doga Kaleagasi and scored a buzzer-beater for 4-1 at the first break. This became 6-4 at halftime after leading 6-2. From that 6-2 mark, the score marched to 6-8 with a fantastic South African resurgence. Turkey came back to be one down on three occasions, but a centre-forward score off a cross pass and a rocket from the top gave South Africa the winning finish and its first victory of the tournament.
South Africans Jenna Weppelman and Catherine Williamson notched four goals apiece with the former collecting the MVP award. Turkey’s Hamiyet Suzmecelik blasted in three. Williamson finished South Africa’s top scorer with 11 goals. Kaleagasi was best for Turkey with six strikes. At 15th, it was South Africa’s lowest finish after a 12th and two 14ths. For Turkey, it was a debut.
What they said
Jenna Weppelman (RSA) — Player of the Match
“It was a really good game. In the first half it was a little bit questionable, but we managed to cope under the pressure. It was a bit shaky, but we set each other up and we won. It’s literally the best experience of my life. I have learned so much. People here are so accommodating and nice. I’m really happy that I had the opportunity to be here.”
Hanzade Dabbag (TUR) — Player
“We got tired, the game was unpredictable and the opponent was stronger. It (the tournament) was a good opportunity to grow and improve.”