WPWL Women’s Intercontinental Tourn., Day 2: Defending champ USA bursts the floodgates against China

World League

auckland2Reigning champion United States of America overcame 2013 champion China 8-2 on the second day of the FINA Women’s Water Polo Intercontinental Tournament at West Wave Aquatic Centre in Auckland (NZL).

In the Group A match, USA needed a six-goal burst in the final six minutes to break a 2-2 deadlock that had the multiple champion team scoreless for the previous 20 minutes of play. It also meant a second straight win. Brazil and Kazakhstan battled hard in their encounter with Brazil coming back to level the match five times for 8-8 at fulltime, only to lose the shootout 12-11 to a joyful Kazakhstan.

In Group B, Canada displayed tremendous flair and skill in registering its second victory, but not before Japan refused to be subdued. Canada won 15-13 despite a three-goal finish by Japan. Australia rounded out the evening with a 10-2 margin over New Zealand.

Points after day two:
Group A: USA 6, CHN 3, KAZ 2, BRA 1.
Group B: AUS 6, CAN 6, JPN 0, NZL 0.


Match 5: 14:30, Group A, CHINA 2 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 8

Quarters: 1-2, 1-0, 0-0, 0-6

Referees: Andrew Carney (AUS), Cory Williams (NZL)
Extra Man: CHN: 0/6. USA: 2/9
Pens: USA: 1/1

CHINA: Jun Yang, Jianing Tian, Zhujia Wang, Xiao Chen, Guannan Niu (1), Xiohan Mei, Donglun Song, Cong Zhang, Zihan Zhao, Dunhan Xiong (1), Xinyan Wang, Jing Zhang, Lin Peng. Head Coach: Rick Azevedo.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Carlee Kapana, Colleen O’Donnell (2), Melissa Seidemann, Makenzie Fischer (2), Caroline Clark, Madeline Musselman, Aria Fischer (1), Madison Berggren (1), Kaleigh Gilchrist (2), Paige Hauschild, Kameryn Craig, Elizabeth Armstrong. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

Match Report:
A game without punch, as the expression goes. To see the reigning champion USA held scoreless for 20 minutes of a match was just unbelievable. Perhaps it was 2013 champion China who should gain the accolades, but it was hard to tell who was the winner in the pool, especially when the score was still 2-2 nearly three minutes into the final quarter. It was all about defence by both teams and probably some poor shooting, also by both. It seemed that both teams took too many passes when chances could have been taken. Hats off to the goalkeepers, especially China’s No 2 Lin Peng who withstood a solid barrage at one stage. With both coaches seemingly frustrated by the offensive calls and players wilting under the extreme pressure of shutdown after shutdown, one wondered just when the match would bust open. It came on a penalty call, drawn by Kami Craig at 5:21 and Kaleigh Gilchrist converted. Then followed a procession of five more goals as USA gained the confidence it sadly needed and scored from both sides of the pool and finally with a counter-attack goal from Aria Fischer. USA star Courtney Mathewson, sat out the match after suffering an out-of-water accident requiring stitches to the head and might miss two matches.

CHN vs USA - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Adam Krikorian (USA) — Head Coach
“It was a bit bleak for both teams in the first three quarters. Both teams were exhausted with hardly any goals scored. At that point it is about digging deep and finding a way to score. It takes a lot of heart when you’re that tired.”

Rick Azevedo (USA) — China Head Coach

“I thought we played very well today. We had great defence but no offence. Our better players were not shooting. Our lefty had two fouls early. The game was decided on a situation at 2-2. I had seven under-20 players in the team and they were deflated at that point. It was a good job defensively speaking and the young players did well.”

Match 6: 16:00, Group B, JAPAN 13 CANADA 15

Quarters: 3-6, 3-3, 4-5, 3-1

Referees: Svetlana Dreval (RUS), Shihao Li (CHN)
Extra Man: JPN: 4/8. CAN: 5/11
Pens: JPN: 1/1. CAN: 2/2

JAPAN: Rikako Miura, Chiaki Sakanoue (1), Yuri Kazama, Shino Magariyama, Moe Nakata (1), Ayaka Takahashi (2), Yumi Nakano (5), Mitsuki Hashiguchi, Kana Hosoya (2), Tsubasa Mori (2), Midori Sugiyama, Kotari Suzuki, Yoko Umeda. Head Coach: Hideo Kato.
CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Krystina Alogbo (4), Katrina Monton (2), Emma Wright (1), Monika Eggens (1), Jacqueline Kohli, Joelle Bekhazi (5), Shae Fournier, Carmen Eggens (1), Christine Robinson, Stephanie Valin (1), Dominique Perrault, Claire Wright. Head Coach: Johanne Begin.

Match report:
Canada and Japan fought out a match in complete contrast to the previous encounter with the pair attaining a 2-2 scoreline inside the first four minutes let alone well into the final period. There were goals aplenty and two in particular caught the eye with Ayaka Takahashi scoring a swim-away backhand from an acute angle for 2-2 and Canadian captain Krystina Alogbo flicking the ball with her right hand over her right shoulder with her back to the goal. By quarter time we were breathless with nine goals and then 15 by halftime. One would be forgiven for thinking that Canada had the match in the bag. Sorry. Japan fired in three goals to tie the match in less than 90 seconds as Yumi Nakano scored twice from the top right, followed by Lana Hosoya on extra. Canada was rattled. But not defeated. The press defence of Japan was working and tiring Canada. However, the Canadians found inner strength and Monika Eggens on extra, Joelle Bekhazi for a penalty strike, Katrina Monton with a centre-forward lob and then Bekhazi with her fourth on extra had the match at 13-9. Nagano and Bekhazi traded goals for a thrilling 14-10 Canadian lead at the final break. Alogbo made it 15-10 at 4:34 in the final quarter for what seemed like a relatively easy win, but Japan struck through Chiaki Sakanoue and then Nagano twice, for her fourth and fifth to lose by just two goals.

JPN vs CAN - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Johanne Begin (CAN) — Head Coach
“We put ourselves into trouble with the counter-attacks that came from miscommunications, but we won. So, it’s better to get the win.”

Stephanie Valin (CAN)
“Not the best showing today. We had to adapt, but a win’s a win.”

Hideo Kato (JPN) — Head Coach
“For the Japanese current level, we can say this was a very good game. We’re very small and we play hard press. We try our counter-attack to set up open chances rather than our set offence. We kept our hard press on from the beginning and they had fatigue. I told them (centre backs) to keep moving and get their centre forwards to grab for contra fouls.”

Rikako Miura (JPN) — Goalkeeper

“At two goals difference, we could have won the game. Last year we lost to Canada by a big margin. We felt the Canadians were getting tired with our hard press. We couldn’t do that last year, but we could today.”

Match 7: 17:30, Group A, BRAZIL 11 KAZAKHSTAN 12 on penalties (FT: 8-8)

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

Referees: Diana Dutilh-Dumas (NED), Toshio Fukumoto (JPN).
Extra Man: BRA: 4/15. KAZ: 2/9.
Pens: Nil.

BRAZIL: Tess Oliveira, Diana Abla (1), Marina Zablith (3), Marina Canetti, Lucianne Baroncass, Izabella Chiappini (2), Amanda Oliviera (1), Luiza Carvalho, Melanie Dias (2), Flavia Fernandes, Mirella Coutinho (1), Mariana Duarte (1), Manuela Canetti. Head Coach: Patrick Oaten.
KAZAKHSTAN: Alexandra Zharkimbayeva, Aruzhan Yegemberdiyeva, Aizhan Akilbayeva  (4), Anna Turova, Kamila Zakirova (2), Irina Svinarenko, Zamira Myrzabekova, Oxana Saichuk (1), Darya Muravyeva, Darya Roga (3), Anastassiya Mirshina (2), Assem Mussarova, Darya Ryzhinskaya. Head Coach: Miroslav Trumbic.

Match Report:
Kazakhstan earned a brilliant penalty-shootout victory, showing the better aggression during regular time and never being headed, except in the shootout. Kazakhstan had the game and Brazil struggled, playing below its best, according to head coach Pat Oaten, for so long the mentor of Canada. At 3-1, Kazakhstan was comfortable, but Brazil struck back with goals either side of the quarter. By halftime Marian Zablith scored her second straight goal for 4-4. Izabella Chiappini, who missed the opening match because of college commitments in the USA, scored Brazil’s fifth and sixth goals to level the match for the third time. However, veteran Aizhan Akilbayeva scored her team’s only two goals of the period and the second for a 7-6 advantage at the final break. Marina Duarte levelled at 7-7 and with just 33 seconds remaining, after Anastassiya Mirshina had Kazakhstan ahead again, Amanda Oliveira answered the call from her teammates and scored the fifth equaliser from deep left, forcing the shootout. Kazakhstan won the toss and scored first, but missed the second (Irana Svinarenko) while Canada missed its third attempt (Melanie Dias). The next three were converted to give Kazakhstan a 12-11 lead with just Izabella Chiappini to fire in the last. However, a two-handed stop by Alexandra Zharkimbayeva gave Kazakhstan a well-deserved victory.

BRA vs KAZ - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Miroslav Trumbic (KAZ) — Head Coach

“A win on penalties is still a win. We need it for our spirit, for the next days and the next games. These girls were really afraid. I hope they relax now the weight off their shoulders and can expect to win more games. I think 8-8 (full time) was the correct result. This is sport.”

Assem Mussarova (KAZ) — Captain
“Right now we are exhausted. There is a big difference in distance between our countries and we are tired. We are happy to win the game. We had good shooters (in the shootout) and showed that, but we were nervous.”

Pat Oaten (CAN) — Brazil Head Coach
“Probably the worst game we’ve played since I have been in Brazil in over a year.”

Marina Canetti (BRA)
“Not a good game. We can play a lot better than we did. We need to improve on the things we didn’t do, but we still have plenty of time for the qualifications and we will be ready.”

Match 8: 19:30, Group B, NEW ZEALAND 2 AUSTRALIA 10
Quarters: 2-3, 0-5, 0-1, 0-1

Referees: Fabio Tofoli (BRA), Boris Akberdino (KAZ)
Extra Man: NZL: 0/6. AUS: 1/7.
Pens: Nil.

NEW ZEALAND: Brooke Millar, Nicole Lewis, Kelly Mason, Hannah Klein, Simone Lewis, Sarah Landry, Miranda Chase, Ricci Ferigo, Emma Stoneman (1), Liana Dance, Kirsten Hudson, Jasmine Myles (1), Katherine Curnow. Head Coach: Attila Biro.
AUSTRALIA: Lea Yanitsas, Gemma Beadsworth, Hannah Buckling (1), Holly Lincoln-Smith (3), Isobel Bishop (2), Bronte Colenso, Rowena Webster (2), Zoe Arancini, Bronte Halligan (2), Keesja Gofers, Nicola Zagame, Lillian Hedges. Head Coach: Greg McFadden.

Match report:
Australia asserted its strength and depth with victory over a determined New Zealand with a large spectator turnout. It was a second straight win for the Aussie Stingers as they build to the sharp end of the competition. The Kiwis were impressive in the opening quarter, twice levelling. The second period was all Australia, particularly in front of goal. Rowie Webster, named most valuable player at last year’s FINA World Cup, scored twice. New Zealand peppered the goal to no effect, but those attempts did lift the roof. The third period brought just the one goal from centre forward Holly Lincoln-Smith — her third. Australia had trouble finding the goal, thanks to Kiwi defence and goalkeeper Brooke Millar. Despite several excellent chances in the dying minutes and a timeout, New Zealand could not add to its first-quarter goals.

NZL vs AUS - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Greg McFadden (AUS) — Head Coach
“Our defence was pretty good. We executed poorly and missed a lot of one-on-ones. There were opportunities we should have scored. We were hammered with offensive turnovers and we need to look at that. Overall our defence was good and we were never under pressure. We created plenty of opportunities. We have to be more clinical.”

Lilian Hedges (AUS) — goalkeeper

“Our defence was really strong and we channeled the ball really well. We put pressure on the attack as showed by our score. We missed some opportunities but generally we followed the game plan.”

Attila Biro (NZL) — Head Coach
“I think it was a little similar to yesterday. Playing one of the best teams in the tournament is always hard. Our defensive game was pretty good, but attack, we are still working on.”

Katherine Curnow (NZL) — Goalkeeper
“We had really good defence. We had a goal to keep them under 10. I am really happy with the girls. Now we just need to focus on our attack.”