TRIESTE, Italy (September 17) – For the first time Spain won the crown of a major women water polo tournament as their team was triumphed in Trieste at the World Junior Women’s Water Polo Championships.
They played with patience and discipline and waited for their moment which came in the fourth quarter in the final when the exhausted Hungarians couldn’t keep up the pace any more. Australia came third beating the other “marathon-team”, Russia, while the home side, Italy clinched the fifth position.
Quarters: 4-4, 2-2, 2-2, 1-3
The Spanish Team, first on the podium – credit: mc59.com
Hungary: BOLONYAI Flora, CZIGANY Dora, ANTAL Dora 2, KISTELEKI Hanna 2, ILLES Anna, KESZTHELYI Rita, KOVER-KIS Reka 2, PENGO Nikoletta 1,
PARDI Petra, KOCSIS Laura, SOMHEGYI Noemi, MOLNAR Timea 2, SZABO Ivett.
Spain: HERRERA Patricia, ESPAR Anni 1, LLORET Helena 1, ESCODA Lidia, GORRIA Teresa, VICENTE Laura, BLAS Andrea 3, MIRANDA Lorena 1, BACH Marta, TARRAGO Rouser 5, CHILLIDA Paula, LLISTERI Mar, PEREZ Cristina.
Hungary: 3 for 11
Spain: 3 for 10
Spain: 3 for 3
Referees: TACCINI Cristina (ITA), DRURY Amber (USA)
It took three periods and three minutes for Spain to take down the Hungarians but being fresher mainly in mind they finally managed to break their exhausted rivals. Hungary came into the game with two extremely tough over-time wins in the players’ muscles (vs USA in the QF, vs Russia in the SF) and within 24 hours they had to face Spain, the team playing the smartest and most balanced water polo of the tournament.
The Spaniards quickly jumped to a 3-1, then a 4-2 lead but the Magyars had luck on their side as two deflected shots and an almost “touch-down” like goal after a rebound in the very last second of the first quarter pushed them back to 4-4. This kept them rolling and another two goals at the beginning of the following quarter put them in front (6-4) but this was the end of their brightest moments. The Spanish quickly regrouped themselves through Tarrago’s goal and Lloret’s great left-handed shot (6-6), only Bolonyai’s two huge saves preserved the tied score for the half-time break.
ESP vs HUN – credit: mc59.com
The Spanish were visibly superior, their attacks held more danger but, credit to the Hungarians, they struggled sometimes but fought as hard as they could. It was not the body, not the mind but probably the hearts which kept them in the game for another period, despite losing their key player, Rita Keszthelyi who was in foul trouble after two periods and the Spanish tried to exclude her by bringing her in front of the goal. For minutes the Hungarians managed to save their captain – but after a rebound, a penalty was called against Keszthelyi who battled for the ball in front of the open cage. Tarrago made no mistake (she converted 3 out of 3) while the opponent had to find the winning way without the player voted the tournament’s MVP… Still, Kover-Kis scored from the distance, and Hungary had another answer after Spain’s next extraman-goal, this time Molnar tipped in a rebounded ball for 8-8.
ESP vs HUN – credit: mc59.com
But that was all – the Hungarians ran out of gas by the middle of the fourth quarter. Their defender could not neutralise the great Spanish centre-forward, Blas who earned either 6 on 5s or a penalty – thanks to her efforts the team took a 10-8 lead and that was too much for the Hungarians at this stage of the final. They tried everything, played with two centre-forwards, and Molnar’s fine push-shot brought them some hope (10-9), what’s more after a denied Spanish extra they got a 6 on 5 but they were unable to set up themselves properly and could not create any serious opportunity. Two minutes remained when the hero of the day, Blas beat two defenders to finish the centre action herself and this goal was a golden one as the Hungarians were forced to rush but missed the 4th and 5th extra just in this period. Joyful shouting and swimming with the coaches here, tears and sadness on poolside there – but at the victory ceremony smiles were seen on everybody’s faces and this is how it has to be in the juniors’ world.
ESP vs HUN – credit: mc59.com
Miguel Angel Oca, the Spanish head coach said: “My team produced great water polo during this week, I think. We played quick, we played with creativity. I would say, my players are not the biggest ones, they are not the strongest ones, but they are disciplined and they are smart which is rather important in this sport where tactical moves are as important as your skills.” Asked whether it is the old Spanish way to win big titles, the former Olympic Champion player smiled back: “Yes, I think it is…”
Bronze medal game
Quarters: 1-3, 0-4, 0-2, 1-1
RUS vs AUS – credit: mc59.com
Russia: KARNAUKH Anna, ANTONOVA Diana 1, NIZHEBOYCHENKO Maria, KARIMOVA Elvina, ANTONOVA Alexandra 1, NUKHOVA Aygul, ZELENTSOVA Ekaterina, BELOVA Olga, GLUCHKOVA Yana, SAVCHUK Maria, BADYKSHINA Dinara, SIMONOVICH Anastasia, YADRYSHNIKOVA Uliana.
Australia: WAKEFIELD Kelsey, SCOTT Emily 3, VENOSTA Genevieve, GRAHAME Emma, BISHOP Isobel, BUCKLING Hanna 1, SCHMID Maddison 2, BROWN Eliesha, ARANCINI Zoe 1, SOUTHERN Ashleigh 1, APPEL Jayde 2, KING Olivia, DAVIES Michaela.
Russia: 1 for 2
Australia: 2 for 3
Referees: TERPENKA Doriel (CAN), STAVROPOULOS Nikolaos (GRE)
Australian joy – credit: mc59.com
In a rather one-sided game Australia won the bronze medal with ease. The Russians looked quite exhausted after two consecutive over-time games, they weren’t as sharp as usual, they couldn’t make their “swimming exercise”, they didn’t have enough energy for constantly moving towards the goal so they couldn’t set up any good opportunity or earn exclusions. They lost many balls through bad passing and it was rather unusual that the shotclock expired a handful times on their possessions. The Australians did what they had to do: defended well and didn’t risk anything in attack just followed their patterns – this was the most efficient way to win the match. The Aussies scored four in a span of four minutes for a 7-1 lead by half time, so the remaining periods didn’t bring too much excitement, everyone knew in the water and at the benches that the game had long been decided.
For places 5-6
Quarters: 3-2, 1-0, 2-0, 2-2
ITA vs GRE – credit: mc59.com
Italy: TEANI Laura, BARZON Laura 1, MILLO Alessia, EMMOLO Giulia 2, QUEIROLO Elisa 2, POMERI Francesca, DARIO Sara, TABANI Chiara, PALMERI Valeria 1, VERDE Medea, GIACHI Gloria 2, LASCIALANDA Letizia, SPARANO Loredana.
Greece: DIAMANTOPOULOU Chrsysoula, BENEKOU Alkistis 1, DIAMANTOPOULOU Vasiliki, PLEVRITOU Eleftheria, PLEVRITOU Margarita, CHARALAMPIDI Ioanna, ZANTOU Aikaterini, TSOUKALA Christina, KOTSIA Christina 1, CHARALAMPIDI Stefania 2, BENEKOU Ioli Angeliki, GARYFALLOU Ioulia, TEREFOU Stefania.
Italy: 1 for 5
Greece: 2 for 9
Italy: 1 for 1
Referees: BENDER Alex (GER), TEULE Jose Maria (ESP)
Italy won its second re-match in a row: after having lost to the USA and Greece in the group-games the home side beat the Americans first (yesterday) then came another retort on the last day. Naturally, the Italians fought to restore some pride in front of their fans and this task was a bit easier than expected as the young Greek team lacked all assets they had in the first three days. Perhaps, they ran out of gas towards the end of this summer (most of their players participated in the youth European Championships three weeks ago where they won the gold medal), but neither their attacks nor their defending work were as sharp as it was in the earlier stage. The Italians were superior in all areas of the game and it was just a matter of time when they would decide the outcome. It happened in the third quarter based on the goals – but in fact the Greeks’ fallback was obvious in the second period when they missed three 6 on 5s in a row. They remained scoreless in the two middle periods, also missed two extras in the third while Italy action goals did the damage – the young Setterosa built a 6-2 lead by the beginning of the last quarter. The Greeks tried to climb back but never got closer than three goals.
For places 7-8
United States–Netherlands 9-11
Quarters: 1-3, 3-2, 2-2, 3-4
USA vs NED – credit: mc59.com
USA: HILL Samantha, MARTIN Brooke, GREENWOOD Emily, GROSSMAN Ashley, DODSON Kaley 1, FATTAL Rachel 2, MENDOZA Kelly, O’DONNELL Colleen 3, OSCHNER Dana, NEUSHUL Kiley 1, ROSENTHAL Madleine 1, SARDO Dominique 1, BALDONI Kate.
Netherlands: SLOBBE Michelle, DONGELMANS Melissa 1, STOMPHORST Nomi, VAN DER SLOOT Chatarina, CABOUT Marloes, KLAASSEN Lieke 5, REMERS Robbin 1, NYHUIS Marloes 1, SMITS Liselotte 1, SEVENICH Vivian, GENEE Amarens 2, MEGENS Maud, WILLEMSZ Debby.
USA: 2 for 5
Netherlands: 3 for 6
USA: 1 for 1
Netherlands: 2 for 2
Referees: DREVAL Svetlana (RUS), TAN Hong Boon (SIN)
USA vs NED – credit: mc59.com
Both teams wanted to finish the event on a high note but the Dutch seemed to be a bit more determined – the Americans struggled to reproduce the fine form they showed at the beginning of the tournament. The Netherlands took a flying start jumping to a 2-0 lead and managed to keep the distance almost until half-time when O’Donnel made the score 4-5 with 5 seconds on the clock. The Americans found their pace for a while in the third, they equalised twice but a penalty-goal put ahead their rivals again (6-7). Nyhuis’ goal from extra opened the fourth quarter for 6-8, the Americans pulled one back (Fattal, 7-8), but a penalty 18 seconds later was crucial: Klaasen – who hit 5 in this game – made no mistake. US head-coach Heather Moody called for a time-out, and Rosenthal’s shot gave some hope but a finely tuned extra from the Dutch set back the two goal cushion and another Klaasen-classic with 2:18 to go closed down the contest.