WPWL Women’s Intercontinental Tourn,. Day 3: Australia and USA top groups heading into quarterfinals

World League

auckland3Australia and United States of America won their groups on the third day of the FINA Women’s Water Polo Intercontinental Tournament at West Waves Aquatic Centre in Auckland (NZL).

In Group A, China needed sudden-death in the penalty shootout to beat Brazil 15-14. It was Brazil’s second successive penalty shootout loss, having earned a chance with a 9-9 equalising goal inside the final two minutes. The win was good enough for second place in the group for China.

United States of America, eight times a winner of the Super Final, breezed home against Kazakhstan in a week where cruisy matches are the exception. The 15-6 scoreline not only showed how well the USA has improved since day one, but also how well Kazakhstan responded to the lift in playing quality. Both teams said, however, that they had plenty of room to improve.

In Group B, Australia won a third straight match with a physical 5-4 margin over Canada. Australia led 3-0 in the opening minutes, but found it tough to shake off a resilient Canada. New Zealand pleased a large crowd with an 8-4 victory over Japan after going into the final period just 4-2 ahead.

In Friday’s quarterfinals, anything can happen with the rustiness of the teams evident through the lack of international play. With plenty of oil applied during the week, chances are some upsets could occur. In the position 1-4 crossovers, USA faces Japan and Australia takes on Brazil. In the 2-3 crossovers, Kazakhstan takes on Canada and China plays New Zealand.

Final points:
Group A: USA 9, CHN 5, KAZ 2, BRA 2.
Group B: AUS 9, CAN 6, NZL 3,  JPN 0.

Friday’s quarterfinal programme:
15:00    Match 14    KAZ    v    CAN
16:30    Match 15    USA    v    JPN
18:00    Match 16    BRA    v    AUS
19:30    Match 13    CHN    v    NZL


Match 9: 14:30, Group A, BRAZIL 14 CHINA 15 in sudden-death penalty shootout (FT: 9-9) Pens: 5-6

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

Referees: Toshio Fukumoto (JPN), Cory Williams (NZL)
Extra Man: BRA: 0/6. CHN: 3/13.
Pens: BRA: 1/1. CHN: 1/1.

BRAZIL: Tess Oliveira, Diana Abla (2), Marina Zablith (3), Marina Canetti, Lucianne Baroncass, Izabella Chiappini (5), Amanda Oliviera, Luiza Carvalho, Melanie Dias (2), Flavia Fernandes, Mirella Coutinho (2), Mariana Duarte, Manuela Canetti. Head Coach: Patrick Oaten.
CHINA: Jun Yang, Jianing Tian, Zhujia Wang, Xiao Chen, Guannan Niu (3), Xiohan Mei, Donglun Song (3), Cong Zhang (2), Zihan Zhao (3), Dunhan Xiong, Xinyan Wang (3), Jing Zhang, Lin Peng. Head Coach: Rick Azevedo.

Match Report:
For the second day in a row, Brazil lost a penalty shootout, this time losing in sudden death to China. It was a match which China nearly lost, having held 4-1 and 8-4 advantages, only to see the advantage disappear. A four-goal Brazilian burst in the last three minutes of the third period unsettled China and broke the match wide open. China responded halfway through the final period and then Brazil’s Mirella Coutinho took a shot-rebound pass to level at 9-9, 1:36 from time. China won the toss, but with two misses each in the rotation it went to sudden death. They both missed their second shots and Canada’s Melanie Dias had her final attempt blocked to bow to China. Both coaches would have gained something from the match with Brazil posting a much better performance from the previous day and China giving pool time to its youngsters. For Brazil to play two shootouts also proved beneficial. Izabella Chiappini was a champion from the top, while Marina Zablith at centre forward and Coutinho’s will to shoot at important moments was crucial. China’s Donglun Song stepped up with three goals, but missed her only chance in the shootout. New star Guannan Niu impressed with an early counter-attack goal and two strikes in the shootout.

BRA vs CHN - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Rick Azevedo (USA) — China Head Coach

“We’re like playing with eight players. We have players who can’t play this level. They are very young, a little bit raw. They (referees) didn’t understand. We are playing the European style of game where we pass the ball to the centre. We play the modern game and the counter-attack. We don’t know how to play this game. I put in three puppies and they gave up three goals. It was OK, all good. We will learn from adversity.”

Pat Oaten (CAN) — Brazil Head Coach
“I was proud of my team and the way they came back (from 8-4 to 8-8). We started slow and were a little flustered and lost goals on defence. We struggled with many things being called. We need more close games leading into Rio (2016). We need these situations.”

Match 10: 16:00, Group B, AUSTRALIA 5 CANADA 4

Quarters: 3-1, 1-1, 0-2, 1-0

Referees: Svetlana Dreval (RUS), Diana Dutilh-Dumas (NED)
Extra Man: AUS: 1/7. CAN: 1/5.
Pens: Nil

AUSTRALIA: Lea Yanitsas, Gemma Beadsworth, Hannah Buckling, (1) Holly Lincoln-Smith (1), Isobel Bishop (1), Bronte Colenso, Rowena Webster, Ellodie Ruffin, Zoe Arancini, Bronte Halligan (1), Keesja Gofers (1), Nicola Zagame, Lillian Hedges. Head Coach: Greg McFadden.
CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Krystina Alogbo (1), Katrina Monton, Emma Wright (2), Monika Eggens, Jacqueline Kohli, Joelle Bekhazi, Shae Fournier, Carmen Eggens, Christine Robinson, Stephanie Valin (1), Dominique Perrault, Claire Wright. Head Coach: Johanne Begin.

Match report:
Australia scraped home a 5-4 winner but, really, the Aussie Stingers were only in control for the first four minutes. After those opening attacks, Australia led 3-0 and it looked like a romp was in progress. However, for the remainder of the match, Canada was in control of the scoring while Australia was just trying to keep ahead on the scoresheet. It took until nearly midway in the third period for Canada to bring the match back on an even keel at 4-4 when Emma Wright scored her second goal. Both teams had big chances in the dying moments of the third period, but defence and stout goalkeepers gave up nothing. The Stingers started well in the final quarter with Holly Lincoln-Smith accepting a long cross pass and steered an easy ball into goal from outside the left post. Australia took a timeout at 2:46 and had two attempts at goal, but the brilliant Canadian defence held up. Goals at the other end were not coming and Australia had only to play out the final half minute, but gave up the ball. Canada called a timeout with five seconds left. The shot, however, was saved by Lea Yanitsas and Australia gained victory by a margin it would not have been happy with considering the excellent start.

AUS vs CAN - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Greg McFadden (AUS) — Head Coach
“Relieved. Canada is a tough opposition and it was always going to be a close game. I was disappointed in our extra-man conversion and our attacking wasn’t great, but it was our defence that won us the game in the end.”

Holly Lincoln-Smith (AUS) — Centre Forward
“It was a really good game – it was our first hard physical game of the season with lots of up and down, but it showed we had a lot of guts to stick it out till the end. Not the result we wanted, as we always like to win by more, but our willingness to never give up and keep on fighting got us the end result.”

Johanne Begin (CAN) — Head Coach
“We’re happy with what we did. The players were great and they concentrated on the game plan; they helped each other. We created opportunities, but our finishing was missing. It’s not that the two teams weren’t shooting on net (she said of the close, low score). Both teams were very physical, so they got tired earlier in the game.”

Christine Robinson (CAN)

“Australia is always a good opponent. It was a pretty tight, low-scoring game and it’s always fun to play this kind of game. We will hopefully match up again and gain revenge. It was a bit crummy coming out slow for 3-0 (down). However, we were playing in the moment and we climbed back. One more goal would have been nice. To play ahead 90 percent of the game was OK but 100 percent would have been nicer.”

Quarters: 3-1, 5-2, 2-1, 5-2

Referees: Marie-Claude Deslieres (CAN), Andrew Carney (AUS)
Extra Man: USA: 4/11. KAZ: 1/9.
Pens: Nil

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Carlee Kapana, Colleen O’Donnell, Melissa Seidemann (3), Makenzie Fischer (2), Caroline Clark (1), Madeline Musselman (1), Aria Fischer (4), Madison Berggren, Kaleigh Gilchrist (2), Paige Hauschild (1), Kameryn Craig (1), Elizabeth Armstrong. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.
KAZAKHSTAN: Alexandra Zharkimbayeva, Aruzhan Yegemberdiyeva (1), Aizhan Akilbayeva, Anna Turova, Kamila Zakirova (4), Irina Svinarenko, Zamira Myrzabekova (1), Oxana Saichuk, Darya Muravyeva, Darya Roga, Anastassiya Mirshina, Assem Mussarova, Darya Ryzhinskaya. Head Coach: Miroslav Trumbic.

Match Report:
United States of America produced one of the best performances of the week in beating Kazakhstan. There was quality on both sides with some excellent finishing, especially from the USA’s Fischer sisters, Makenzie and Aria, who scored six between them. Kami Craig, one of the best centre forwards in the world, was smothered by the tight Kazakh defence, but she managed to break the shackles eventually on the first attack of the fourth. Mel Seidemann controlled the play from in front on defence and created many ball-stealing chances, as well as scoring twice. On the other side of the ledger, Kamila Zakirova was in fine form with three goals before halftime, one a screamer from at least seven metres out off a free throw. She scored on extra-man goal in the fourth at the 12-5 mark. Another Kazakh to impress was centre forward Zamira Myrzabekova whose nerve held with a sharp turn and lob for her team’s only goal of the third period. To Kazakhstan’s credit it managed to slow down the USA juggernaut in the third period, a quarter that is normally very telling to a result. In the final period, USA’s well-oiled machine was fully in gear. The injured Courtney Mathewson (USA) sat out a second match.

USA vs KAZ - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Adam Krikorian (USA) — Head Coach
“I think we can play better. It was an uninspired game for us, slow and quiet. We need to do much better. We have to help our young ones more. Hopefully we will do better in the next three games.”

Miroslav Trumbic (KAZ) — Head Coach

“The difference in score I can accept, but I can’t accept the lack of discipline from my players. USA, Canada and Australia are physically much stronger than us and more experienced. Today we play with the Olympic winner and we are satisfied. It was good experience for us.”

Match 12: 19:30, Group B, JAPAN 4 NEW ZEALAND 8

Quarters: 0-1, 1-2, 1-1, 2-4

Referees: Steven Rotsart (USA), Boris Akberdin (KAZ)
Extra Man: JPN: 2/8. NZL: 2/8.
Pens: NZL: 1/1.

JAPAN: Rikako Miura, Chiaki Sakanoue, Yuri Kazama (1), Shino Magariyama, Moe Nakata (1), Ayaka Takahashi, Yumi Nakano, Mitsuki Hashiguchi, Kana Hosoya (1), Tsubasa Mori (1), Midori Sugiyama, Kotari Suzuki, Yoko Umeda. Head Coach: Keiji Oi.
NEW ZEALAND: Brooke Millar, Nicole Lewis (1), Kelly Mason, Hannah Klein, Simone Lewis, Sarah Landry, Miranda Chase (1), Ricci Ferigo, Emma Stoneman, Liana Dance (1), Kirsten Hudson (3), Jasmine Myles (2), Katherine Curnow. Head Coach: Attila Biro.

Match report:
New Zealand won its first match of the tournament with a lead-from-the-front 8-4 victory to take third place in the group. It was Kirsten Hudson who commanded the scoring in the first half, opening with a short drive at 5:55 in the first quarter. She nailed the second and third goals of the match in the first three minutes of the second quarter, one from the penalty line and the other with a deft five-metre lob for 3-0. Japanese captain Tsubasa Mori raised her flag for a halftime deficit of two. That was narrowed to one early in the third as Yuri Kazama scored on counter on the deep left. On the next attack, New Zealand moved back to two goals ahead through Simone Lewis after a cross pass from the right to the far post. The next goal came nearly seven minutes later on the first attack of the fourth period through youngster Liane Dance at centre forward. The celebrations were muted soon after as Japan struck twice from the deep left through Moe Nakata and Kana Hosoya with nearly six minutes remaining. Jasmine Myles lifted the roof above the packed stand with a long shot for 6-4 at 5:17. After a timeout, Myles fired in another missile and then Miranda Chase scored her first goal of the tournament with 10 seconds left. The Kiwis can thank goalkeeper Brooke Millar for a standout performance, with a host of important blocks.

JPN vs NZL - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes
Attila Biro (NZL) — Head Coach

“I’m happy about the result, they deserved to win. It was all about having discipline and that’s what I wanted. Defence was perfect and was the key to this game.”

Kelly Mason (NZL) – Captain
“Awesome. Brooke Millar played so well. We were all excited before the game; we weren’t going to lose; it was that kind of feeling. The girls played amazing.”

Hideo Kato (JPN) — Head Coach
“We suffered from a poor conversion rate. We had the opportunities but could not convert. Our players were not good enough to keep the ball. We need to work on that. We should have utilised more mobile play. I used the centre forward when I should have employed the more mobile game. I was trying the younger girls as they are more mobile. I should have continued that.”

Chiaki Sakanoue (JPN) — New international and centre back
“We did lots of counter-attacks but had problems with very low conversion. We need to improve that.” On being 18 and a freshman at university playing her first international tournament: “The match-up with the bigger centre forwards, I need to think how to cope with them.”