WPWL Women’s Intercontinental Tourn., Day 6: USA wins in Auckland (NZL)

World League

auckland6United States of America needed a penalty shootout to beat Australia  for the FINA Women’s Water Polo Intercontinental Tournament title at West Waves Aquatic Centre today In Auckland (NZL).

Australia pulled back a goal in the last 10 seconds for an 8-8 finish at fulltime to force the shootout, but missed twice while USA scored all four attempts. In the bronze-medal match, Canada came from three goals behind to beat China 9-7 in what was an enthralling encounter.

Brazil took fifth place and the critical final qualifying berth for the Super Final in Shanghai next month by downing Kazakhstan 7-4 in a match that went to the wire and saw some frenetic play, especially in the first half.

Brazil joins USA, Australia, Canada and China from Auckland and the three European qualifiers, Netherlands, Italy and Russia.

In the play-off for seventh and eighth, host New Zealand won for the second time, beating Japan 13-10.

The winning team of USA - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Final placings:

1.    United States of America
2.    Australia
3.    Canada
4.    China
5.    Brazil
6.    Kazakhstan
7.    New Zealand
8.    Japan

Tournament team:

Goalkeeper: Brooke Millar (NZL)
Centre forward: Kami Craig (USA)
Field players:     Rowie Webster (AUS)
        Makenzie Fischer (USA)
        Zihan Zhao (CHN)
        Krystina Alogbo (CAN)
        Nicola Zagame (AUS)


Match 21: 14:30, NEW ZEALAND 13 JAPAN 10

Classification 7-8
Quarters: 3-1, 3-5, 5-3, 2-1

Referees: Boris Akberdin (KAZ), Fabio Toffoli (BRA).
Extra Man: NZL: 4/7. JPN: 1/8.
Pens: NZL: 2/2. JPN: 1/3.

NEW ZEALAND: Brooke Millar, Nicole Lewis (1), Kelly Mason, Hannah Klein, Simone Lewis (1), Sarah Landry (1), Miranda Chase (1), Ricci Ferigo, Emma Stoneman (1), Liana Dance (4), Kirsten Hudson (2), Jasmine Myles (2), Katherine Curnow. Head Coach: Attila Biro.
JAPAN: Rikako Miura, Chiaki Sakanoue (2), Yuri Kazama, Shino Magariyama (1), Moe Nakata, Ayaka Takahashi, Yumi Nakano (2), Mitsuki Hashiguchi (2), Kana Hosoya, Tsubasa Mori (2), Midori Sugiyama, Kotari Suzuki (1), Yoko Umeda. Head Coach: Hideo Kato.

Match Report:
New Zealand collected a second win for the week and finished seventh with all the front-running against Japan. Japan drew level at 1-1, 6-6, 7-7 and 9-9, but could not take the lead. The first half was interesting from the fact that the Kiwis won the first quarter and Japan the second. Too many soft goals were scored at both ends where defence would have avoided the scoreboard working too hard. The goals came thick and fast in the third as New Zealand regained he advantage and went to the final quarter two ahead. There were some excellent goals, none better than Liana Dance’s backhand goal at centre forward after a high, lobbing pass from Jasmine Myles. Dance has just turned 17 and was a revelation at the tournament while she and Myles were always in the scoring mix during the week. Dance scored her fourth of the match and 10th goal of the week for 12-10 at 2:41. The winning move came when Nicole Lewis drew a penalty at 1:05 and Miranda Chase, who was the programme and poster cover girl for the event, converted for 13-10 at 1:05. Both teams used their No 13 goalkeepers in the first half and Japan kept Yuko Umeda in for the third quarter before bringing in Rikako Miura for the final eight minutes. New Zealand No 1 Brooke Millar, named to the Tournament Team, made an incredible number of saves during the week.

NZL vs JPN - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Attila Biro (NZL) — Head Coach

“All together it’s a positive result. We’ve won twice and drawn once against Brazil and that’s great after one and a half years out of international water polo. The game was painful and tough, but I respect the team for stepping up again and again when Japan fought back.”

Liana Dance (NZL) – on playing first international tournament
“It was an honour to represent my country at a senior level. I’ve got a lot of hard work to do before playing at the World Champs. It’s been an amazing experience to play against some of the top teams in the world.”

Hideo Kato (JPN) — Head Coach
“I clearly instructed the players not to stay too close when pressing. They were more afraid of the moment and grabbed. They should have stayed loose or check the course of the opponent. The players did not follow instructions. On extra man we just kept passing without taking a very good shot.” On the tournament, he said: “We still have new players and we have to implement new tactics, different from my predecessor. We are still at the learning stage.”

Match 22: 16:00, BRAZIL 7 KAZAKHSTAN 4

Classification 5-6
Quarters: 1-2, 1-0, 2-1, 3-1

Referees: Andrew Carney (AUS), Steven Rotsart (USA).
Extra Man: BRA: 2/59. KAZ: 2/5.
Pens: KAZ: 1/3.

BRAZIL: Tess Oliveira, Diana Abla, Marina Zablith (2), Marina Canetti, Lucianne Baroncass, Izabella Chiappini (3), Amanda Oliviera, Luiza Carvalho, Melanie Dias, Flavia Fernandes, Mirella Coutinho (2), Mariana Duarte, Manuela Canetti. Head Coach: Patrick Oaten.
KAZAKHSTAN: Alexandra Zharkimbayeva, Aruzhan Yegemberdiyeva (1), Aizhan Akilbayeva, Anna Turova (1), Kamila Zakirova (1), Irina Svinarenko, Zamira Myrzabekova, Oxana Saichuk, Darya Muravyeva, Darya Roga (1), Anastassiya Mirshina, Assem Mussarova, Darya Ryzhinskaya. Head Coach: Miroslav Trumbic.

Match report:
Brazil proved its worthiness of FINA World League Super Final qualification with a 7-4 victory over Kazakhstan in a match where the result was in doubt until the final minute. Kazakhstan had the better of the opening attacks, converting two extra-man chances through Kamila Zakirova and Anna Turova. Several minutes later Marina Zablith scored from centre forward. Zablith was to score the next goal, but not until one second from halftime, gaining a counter and receiving a near-pinpoint pass from goalkeeper Tess Oliviera to lob the ball over Alexandra Zharkimbayeva’s head. During a frustrating period of scoring inactivity, Brazilian assistant coach Roberto Chiappini was red-carded at 4:03 in the second quarter for constantly talking to the players and standing, when his duties were expected to be more like the silent partner. It was at a time when anything on the scoresheet, except major fouls, was the norm. Qualification for Shanghai was making things tough. By comparison, the start of the second half was less frantic and more about confidence in the ability to score. Darya Roga converted a penalty for Kazakhstan and Izabella Chiappini drew Brazil level with an extra-man shot from deep left. Mirella Coutinho gave Brazil the edge for the first time at 4:28 from the top on extra. Kazakhstan had a chance to equalise but Anastassiya Mirshina had her penalty blocked by Tess Oliviera on the next attack. For the next four minutes teams were scoreless. In the crucial fourth period, it was Chiappini who broke Kazakh hearts with a quick shot off the hand from right-hand catch at 6:40. Then Tess Oliviera did it again, stopping a second penalty attempt, this time by the previously successful Roga. Chiappini scored her third on the next attack and at 2:38 an 6-3 ahead, Brazil was booking its flights for Shanghai. Coutinho (BRA) and Aruzhan Yegemberdiyeva (KAZ) swapped goals either side of the final minute to close out the match.

BRA vs KAZ - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Pat Oaten (CAN) — Brazil Head Coach

On qualifying for Super Final: “We feel pretty good; happy with the qualification, but the team realises how much work we need to do. Happy with the qualification but we can play much better than we played here.”

Miroslav Trumbic (KAZ) — Head coach
“We missed a lot on attack. When you don’t score, even with two penalties, what happens, happens. Brazil shot better on attack. We didn’t score. At the end you pay. I am a little disappointed as we expected to win and qualify for the finals. How we played today we didn’t deserve to play the finals.”

Match 23: 17:30, CHINA 7 CANADA 9
Classification 3-4
Quarters: 2-0, 1-2, 1-4, 3-3

Referees: Cory Williams (NZL), Toshio Fukumoto (JPN).
Extra Man: CHN: 1/11. CAN: 1/3.
Pens: CHN: 2/2. CAN: 1/2.

CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Krystina Alogbo (1), Katrina Monton (1), Emma Wright (2), Monika Eggens (2), Jacqueline Kohli, Joelle Bekhazi (2), Shae Fournier, Carmen Eggens, Christine Robinson, Stephanie Valin (1), Dominique Perrault, Claire Wright. Head Coach: Johanne Begin.
CHINA: Jun Yang, Jianing Tian, Zhujia Wang, Xiao Chen, Guannan Niu (2), Xiohan Mei, Donglun Song (1), Cong Zhang, Zihan Zhao (3), Dunhan Xiong, Xinyan Wang, Jing Zhang (1), Lin Peng. Head Coach: Rick Azevedo.

Match Report:
Canada claimed bronze in a tight match that had China three ahead at the start. However, Canada’s shots were more on target while China hit the wood, had shots blocked or shot high. China shut Canada out of the match in the first 10 minutes and led 3-0 thanks to power shooters Zihan Zhao, Guannan Niu and Donglun Song. Then Canada awoke and for the next 11 minutes it commanded the scoring with Joelle Bekhazi from in front of goal, Stephanie Valin from the top on extra, Bekhazi on penalty, captain Krystina Alogbo from two metres and Emma Wright with a buzzer-beater from deep right. At 5-3, Canada was ready for the bronze medal. China responded through Jing Zhang on penalty, but Emma Wright converted extra-man attack with one second left in the third period for 6-4. The only blot on Canada’s record was Emma Wright’s blocked penalty shot when 3-1 down. China was back in the action in the final period as goals were traded, starting with the prolific Zhao, followed by two Monika Eggens goals either side of a Niu score. Zhao brought it back to 8-7 — one behind — at 3:35. Katrina Monton closed the match with a centre-forward backhand at 1:39 and 9-7. China shot high, Canada’s shot was blocked and China lost the ball, giving Canada the ball and the bronze medal.

CHN vs CAN - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Johanne Begin (CAN) — Head Coach

“I’m happy with the result for sure, winning with a lot of exclusions — against China — is difficult but we put ourselves in a difficult position. We controlled our emotions in the second half, applied the game plan, and it worked and we won.”

Jessica Gaudreault (CAN) — Goalkeeper
“We’re happy with the placing, it’s better than last year. We’re just looking to grow as a team and we’re doing that.”

Rick Azevedo (USA) — China Head Coach
“It was a good game. Today’s the first day we have played our defence and played what we will do for the rest of this summer. We jumped to a 3-0 lead, we had some good opportunities and some wide open shots in front of cage we missed. I was very satisfied and it was well played both ways. Every game we have earned 12-13 exclusions on defence. When we get together with the other half of the team (back in China), we will be a very good team.”

Match 24: 19:30, AUSTRALIA 10 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 12 in penalty shootout (FT: 8-8. Pens: 2-4)

Classification 1-2
Quarters: 3-3, 2-2, 2-3, 1-0. Pens: 2-4

Referees: Svetlana Dreval (RUS), Diana Dutilh-Dumas (NED).
Extra Man: AUS: 0/11. USA: 3/8.
Pens: AUS: 0/1. USA: 1/1.

AUSTRALIA: Lea Yanitsas, Gemma Beadsworth (1), Hannah Buckling (2), Holly Lincoln-Smith (1), Isobel Bishop, Bronte Colenso, Rowena Webster (3), Ellodie Ruffin, Zoe Arancini, Bronte Halligan, Keesja Gofers (1), Nicola Zagame (2), Lillian Hedges. Head Coach: Greg McFadden.
Seidemann (1), Makenzie Fischer (4), Caroline Clark, Madeline Musselman, Courtney Mathewson (4), Aria Fischer (1), Madison Berggren, Kaleigh Gilchrist (1), Paige Hauschild, Kameryn Craig (1), Elizabeth Armstrong. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

Match report:
United States of America survived a penalty shootout to beat Australia 12-10 after the match was tied at 8-8 by fulltime. The Aussie Stingers rattled USA with a 2-0 start inside two minutes thanks to Hannah Buckling’s score off a cross pass and Nicola Zagame’s centre-forward lob. Courtney Mathewson, who sat out two games because of a dressing-room injury earlier in the week, brought up USA’s first goal on extra-man advantage. It became 3-1 when Holly Lincoln-Smith lobbed at two metres. Then Mel Seidemann and Makenzie Fischer both scored on extra for 3-3 with one minute left in the first quarter. Australian again went to a two-goal margin thanks to a seven-metre lob from Rowie Webster and a backhand shot from outside four metres by Gemma Beadsworth. USA redressed the situation with a Makenzie Fischer penalty strike and Mathewson’s second goal, on extra-man attack, just 14 seconds from halftime. USA proved why it wins so much with a fantastic third period, Mathewson with a blast from seven metres cross cage and Makenzie Fischer scoring in a period of double exclusion for 7-5. Keesja Gofers, who missed a penalty shot late in the previous quarter, lobbed on counter, but Aria Fischer capitalised on an Australian defensive error for 8-6 at 2:36. Webster scored the fourth Australian lob of Carlee Kapana on counter 10 seconds from the final break for 8-7 in USA’s favour. Both teams were shut out in the final period and Australia failed to have a critical shot inside the final minute. It seemed no-one wanted to shoot. USA went to the far end and could not convert. Then the Stingers found some sting when Webster fired in a missile from well outside for the all-important equaliser 10 seconds from full time, for what was to become a penalty shootout. Both teams scored their first shots and then Australia hit the wood twice with USA went four straight after Hannah Buckling netted Australia’s second. USA deservedly won 14-12 on penalties.

AUS vs USA - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Adam Krikorian (USA) — Head Coach

“We made some critical defensive stops in the first quarter to keep it close otherwise Australia would have got away. Both teams played without centre forwards for much of the game with Holly (Lincoln-Smith) injured, Gemma (Beadsworth) out on three majors and Kami Craig on two majors. A lot of players were playing out of position. Both teams were tired after six matches. They were not in the best of physical conditions.”

Georgina Kovacs (AUS) — Assistant Coach
“It was a great game of water polo for World League finals. Both teams have similar tactics and depth in the water. We missed some opportunities to get ahead, but we got back at the right moment. Then we were unlucky with our penalty shots. Congratulations to USA on the gold medal.”