WP World Cup 2014 (W), Day 6: USA retains World Cup crown with repeat win over Australia

Water Polo World Cup

United States of America continued its charmed run through the FINA World Cup with a repeat win over Australia for the week and the last two World Cups. In Christchurch four years ago, USA triumphed over Australia, giving the country a second World Cup to go with the inaugural World Cup in 1979. Now it has three.

On the final day at the Ugra State University Sports Complex, USA won 10-6 and Australia has to be content with its third silver to go with three golds and four bronzes. In fact, Australia has contested the last three World Cup finals with head coach Greg McFadden at the helm, winning his first in 2006 in Tianjin, China.

In today’s final, USA led 3-1 at the quarter and 7-3 at halftime, showing its dominance of this event in the last two editions. It was enough to get across the line with Australia scoring the only goal of the final period.

Earlier in the week, USA beat Australia 8-6.

Winning team USA - credit: Russell McKinnon

USA head Coach Adam Krikorian was ecstatic with the way his team played. “A great win caps off a very good summer for us. We played tough all week. It was comforting to come into the final with the right attitude and preparation. It was excellent. It was a little bit reminiscent of Christchurch (four years ago) when we got up (6-0 at halftime) and they battled back (6-3). Anyway, it was good to get a good lead. All credit to Australia for fighting back. We expected it.”

Goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson was voted best for the tournament, even though she did not play the final. Her efforts earlier in the week gained huge votes from opposition coaches.

Australia’s Rowena Webster was voted the Most Valuable Player for the week and deservedly so with her six-goal effort to salvage the 10-8 quarter-final against Russia. Bronze went to Spain — its first at this level — and still on the dais after winning world gold in Barcelona last year and the European championships this year. China pulled the game back to 5-5 in the last, but Anna Espar claimed four goals including the go-ahead goal before teammate Roser Tarrago, one of the week’s standouts, scored the last.

In the play-off for fifth and sixth, Hungary emerged the victor over host nation Russia, 14-11, in what was an interesting match-up. It was 9-9 early in the final quarter before Hungary pulled away. Ekaterina Prokofyeva, Russia’s captain, amassed the highest number of goals with 24, including a nine-goal haul against Singapore.

South Africa gained its first win of the week, a week in which three players were sidelined at various stages through injury. South Africa beat fellow World Cup newcomer Singapore 11-6.


Most Valuable player: Rowena Webster (AUS)
Best Goalkeeper: Ashleigh Johnson (USA)
Highest goal-scorer: Rita Keszthelyi (HUN) - 24 goals

Media All Star Team:

Goalkeeper: Ashleigh Johnson (USA)
Centre forward: Kameryn Craig (USA)
Field players: Rita Keszthelyi (HUN)
Ekaterina Prokofyeva (RUS)
Yujun Sun (CHN)
Roser Tarrago (ESP)
Rowena Webster (AUS)

Game reports:

Match 21: 15:00, Classification 7-8, SINGAPORE 6 SOUTH AFRICA 11
Quarters: 0-3, 3-2, 0-5, 3-1

Referees: Amber Drury (USA), Keiichi Orikasa (JPN)
Extra Man: SIN: 1/6,  RSA: 2/4
Pens: RSA: 1/2

SINGAPORE: Seet Low, Ting Koh (1), Su-Lynn Tan, Enci Kan, Adelyn Yew (1), Angeline Teo, Ser Han Neo, Lynette Tan (2), Yiwen Ng, Denise Chen (2), En Yuan Loke, Cheng Ong, Eunice Fu. Head Coach: Luo Nan.
SOUTH AFRICA: Anke Jacobs, Amica Hallendorf (2), Kieren Paley, Kim Rosslee (1), Carly Wessels, Samantha Shead (1), Chloe Bradley, Lee-Ann Keet, Christy Rawstrom (1), Megan Parkes (1), Deborah O’Hanlon (1), Kelsey White (4), Rebecca Thomas. Head Coach: Brad Rowe.

SIN vs RSA - credit: Russell McKinnon

South Africa created World Cup history for its country with a first win at this level of competition. Both South Africa and Singapore were playing at a World Cup for the first time and they suffered some heavy defeats all week, so relished the chance for closer competition. The injury-prone South Africa had control in the early stages and led 5-0 at 5:21 in the second period before Singapore awoke and snapped in three straight goals, two from centre forward Denise Chen to close out the half at 5-3. Singapore then had a rampant opposition in the third period as South Africa slotted five unanswered goals with Kelsey White adding two more to the two she scored in the opening quarter. Deborah O’Hanlon scored with a penalty goal at 8-3. Singapore, keen to get back scoring, went to a timeout at 1:18, but the resulting shot by Chen went wide of the mark. On Singapore’s next attack it took three shots on goal for no reward, the last a drag-back on the buzzer. Adelyn Yew brought Singapore back on track with a strong effort at centre forward to start the final quarter, scoring Singapore’s 10th goal of the tournament. Tan struck again two minutes later with a low missile from the top just after the extra-play period was over for 10-5 at 5:21. O’Hanlon stepped up for another penalty attempt, but Seet Low blocked the shot. Christy Rawstrom converted extra-man attack at 2:46 for 11-5. When Ting Koh scored from well outside at 0:57 for 11-6, it doubled Singapore’s tally for the tournament.

Match 22: 16:30, Classification 5-6, HUNGARY 14 RUSSIA 11
Quarters: 4-4, 5-4, 3-1, 3-1

Referees: Andrew Carney (AUS), Yagi Wang (CHN)
Extra Man: HUN: 3/7  RUS: 4/9
Pens: HUN: 0/1. RUS: 0/1.

HUNGARY: Orsolya Kaso, Dora Czigany, Dora Antal (1), Hannah Kisteleki (2), Gabriella Szucs (1), Orsolya Takacs, Anna Illes, Rita Keszthelyi (4), Ildiko Toth (3), Barbara Bujka (2), Anita Hevesi, Kata Menczinger (1), Edina Gangl. Head Coach: Andras Meresz.
RUSSIA: Maria Bersneva, Ekaterina Prokofyeva (1), Elvina Karimova (3), Valeriia Kolmakova (1), Olga Koryakina, Nadezhda Iarondaykina (1), Maria Borisova (1), Anna Kravchenko, Anna Grineva (2), Evgeniya Ivanova (2), Daria Ryzhkova. Anna Karnaukh. Head Coach: Mikhail Nakoriakov.

RUS vs HUN - credit: Russell McKinnon

Hungary and Russia could have expected higher finishes at this tournament, but such was the luck and superior play of other teams, they had to settle for fifth and sixth. Hungary came through in what was an engrossing match. The pace of the match was frantic from the start with 17 goals by halftime. Hungary started fastest at 2-0, only to be overtaken 3-2 by Russia — five goals in just over three minutes. The eight goals in the quarter were scored by eight different players. The intensity was there still in the second quarter Barbara Bujka took Hungary to the lead and, soon after Rita Keszthelyi had a penalty attempt blocked by Anna Karnaukh, Maria Borisova regained the lead for Russia at 6-5. Hannah Kisteleki and Kata Menczinger brought Hungary 7-6 ahead, only for Elvina Karimova to respond. The match see-sawed through to 10-9 midway through the third period when Prokofyeva had her penalty attempt blocked by Orsolya Kaso. Ildiko Toth, who missed a match through injury earlier in the week, scored at centre forward and Keszthelyi drilled a shot on counter at 3:26 for 12-9 and the final goal of the period. Karimova gave Russia hope on extra at 6:26, but Kiszthelyi, then Valeriia Kolmakova and Keszthelyi again, for her 24th goal of the tournament had the match secured at 0:26.

Match 23: 18:00, Classification 3-4, CHINA 5 SPAIN 7
Quarters: 1-2, 1-2, 2-1, 1-2

Referees: Gabriella Varkonyi (HUN), Marie-Claude Deslieres (CAN)
Extra Man: CHN: 2/7.  ESP: 3/7.
Pen: ESP: 0/1

CHINA: Jun Yang, Jing Zhang, Ping Liu, Yujun Sun, Huili Chen, Yating Sun (1), Donglun Song (1), Cong Zhang, Zihan Zhao (1), Jianing Tian, Xinyan Wang (1), Guannan Niu (1), Lin Peng. Head Coach: Rick Azevedo.
SPAIN: Patricia Herrera, Marta Bach, Anna Espar (4), Beatriz Ortiz, Matilde Ortiz (2), Helena Lloret, Clara Espar, Lorena Miranda, Mar Pastor, Roser Tarrago (1), Paula Chillida, Laura Vicente, Maria Sanchez. Head Coach: Miguel Oca.

CHN vs ESP - credit: Russell McKinnon

Spain gained its first World Cup medal, out-gunning China 7-5 with two late goals and the experience and guile of Anna Espar. It was Espar who grabbed the limelight with four goals and could have taken a fifth had she not had her penalty attempt blocked six minutes from full time. Once Espar scored from outside and then from centre forward to take Spain into the lead at 2-1 in the first quarter, the world and European champion maintained the advantage, despite China coming back at 2-2 at the start of the second period, and then 5-5 early in the final quarter. When Zihan Zhao equalised at 5-5, the match looked like it could go to a penalty shootout, something that did not look likely in any of the four matches on Saturday. There was a buzz in the pool and both teams had the experience of big matches to produce a winning effort. Espar did not succeed with the penalty but she did strike back three minutes later on extra for her fourth goal. Then Roser Tarrago, so much the driving force for Spain all week, struck the winning goal and China’s effort after a timeout was commendable, but too late. Yating Sun was given the ball at two metres and snappily went with a backhand shot that was blocked. If it went in, China could have won the ball and equalised. However, Spain was not to be denied a medal, something that is starting to become a habit. Head Coach Miguel Oca said on Saturday that his team had no right to expect title after title. They had to be earned each tournament, he said.

Match 24: 19:30, Classification 1-2, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 10 AUSTRALIA 6
Quarters: 3-1, 4-2, 3-2, 0-1

Referees: Alexey Krapivin (RUS), Jaume Teixido (ESP)
Extra Man: USA: 3/7  AUS: 3/10
Pens: USA: 1/1. AUS: 0/1

USA: Samantha Hill, Alys Williams, Melissa Seidemann (3), Rachel Fattal (1), Caroline Clark, Maggie Steffens (1), Courtney Mathewson (2), Kiley Neushul (2), Jillian Kraus, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Annike Dries, Kameryn Craig (1), Ashleigh Johnson. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.
AUSTRALIA: Lilian Hedges, Jayde Appel, Hannah Buckling, Bronte Colenso, Isobel Bishop, Bronwen Knox (1), Rowie Webster (2), Glencora McGhie (2), Zoe Arancini, Ashleigh Southern, Morgan Baxter, Keesja Gofers (1) , Kelsey Wakefield. Head Coach: Greg McFadden.

USA vs AUS - credit: Russell McKinnon

United States of America proved why it is one of the best teams of the past decade, collecting a second consecutive gold medal, while Australia had to settle for silver for the second time, following a third consecutive appearance, winning gold in 2006. USA had the goods in all departments and used them effectively. It was a high-class match as they always are, as evidenced by Olympic, World League and World Cup titles. Only Spain’s world title has eluded it in recent years.
The Aussie Stingers began the goal assault, but USA struck the next four times and it was not until two minutes into the second period that Australia made it 4-2. By halftime, USA had taken a stranglehold with a 7-3 margin. Australia kept fighting back, but just when it looked good at 7-5 down by 4:31 in the third, USA hammered in three more for 10-5 by the end of the third quarter. Courtney Mathewson converted one of the few penalty conversions of the day. Glencora McGhie brought one back at 4:18 in the final quarter and a late timeout ploy saw Ashleigh Southern smash the crossbar. It was not to be Australia’s day, but it goes home with 10 medals in this competition, second only to the Netherlands, who have 12. USA and Australia now have three golds, which USA has five silvers and a bronze compared to Australia’s three silvers and four bronzes.

Australian head coach Greg McFadden said: "USA is a very good team and been together since May. They are a well-drilled team and do not have many weaknesses. We made some silly errors and missed opportunities and didn’t get close enough to put pressure on them. The senior players — Rowie [Webster], Glennie [Glencora McGhie] and Bronnie [captain Bronwen Knox], worked their butts off all week."