WPWL Women’s Intercontinental Tourn., Day 5: Australia-USA final; fifth berth up for grabs

World League

auckland5Australia will play eight-time FINA World League champion United States of America for the gold medal at the FINA Women’s Water Polo Intercontinental Tournament at West Waves Aquatic Centre on Sunday. The Aussie Stingers won through with a comfortable 13-6 margin over China but USA turned from 7-4 ahead at halftime to shrug off a determined Canada 11-9.

China, the 2013 World League champion, will play for bronze with Canada. It is irrelevant in the overall scheme of things as all four teams have qualified for the Super Final in Shanghai next month.

However, fifth place, and the coveted eighth place for Shanghai, is up for grabs when Brazil plays Kazakhstan. Brazil played its third penalty shootout, but this time came out a winner, 12-10 over New Zealand after finishing the match at 9-9. Brazil was 9-4 ahead midway through the final period and watched as the Kiwis shoveled in five unanswered goals.

Kazakhstan, earned a chance at a Shanghai trip with an 8-7 win over Japan.

Sunday’s medal-round programme:

15:00    7th-8th        NZL v    JPN
16:30    5th-6th        BRA v    KAZ
18:00    Bronze        CHN v    CAN   
19:30    Gold            AUS v    USA


Match 17: 14:30, NEW ZEALAND 10 BRAZIL 12 on penalties (FT: 9-9) Pens: 1-3

Round 5-8 Semifinal
Quarters: 1-2, 2-4, 1-1, 5-2 Pens: 1-3

Referees: Andrew Carney (AUS), Shihao Li (CHN).
Extra Man: NZL: 3/6. BRA: 0/7.
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 (3), Kirsten Hudson (3), Jasmine Myles (3), Katherine Curnow. Head Coach: Attila Biro.
BRAZIL: Tess Oliveira, Diana Abla (1), Marina Zablith (2), Marina Canetti (1), Lucianne Baroncass, Izabella Chiappini (3), Amanda Oliviera (3), Luiza Carvalho, Melanie Dias (1), Flavia Fernandes (1), Mirella Coutinho, Mariana Duarte, Manuela Canetti. Head Coach: Patrick Oaten.

Match Report:
Brazil moved into the crucial play-off for fifth, which will determine who will take the final berth for the Shanghai FINA World League Super Final next month. But Brazil had to survive its third penalty shootout of the week, losing the previous two after seeing a five-goal lead disappear and send the match to penalties after a 9-9 scoreline. Brazil played steady water polo, putting a zone on New Zealand that the Kiwis seemed incapable of breaking in the first three quarters. When the Kiwis did move closer to goal and gain some movement, it collected extra-man situations that it exploited twice. Then came the amazing final quarter when New Zealand went 9-4 down after two Brazilian strikes and then created a miracle finish with five straight goals, the final shot coming from Jasmine Myles with two seconds left on the clock, sending the match to penalties. While Brazil was sharing around the goals from the top earlier on, New Zealand scored twice through youngster Liana Dance from centre forward. Dance, who has just turned 17, lifted the crowd when she scored on counter while heavily defended at 9-6 with 2:30 remaining. Her counter goal was the middle of three consecutive strikes by New Zealand with veteran Kirsten Hudson and Emma Stoneman scoring from outside — all within two minutes — for 9-7 with 12:40 remaining.  New Zealand went to a timeout and the resulting play brought a goal to Hudson at 0:49 and then Myles’ sublime shot from the top. Brazilian head coach Pat Oaten (CAN) earlier said that the pressure was on Brazil to perform and to at least qualify for Shanghai as it will be hosting next year’s Rio Olympic Games.

NZL vs BRA - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

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

“The team has to learn these situations of changing defence. No team is going to stop working and New Zealand was good on defence. I honestly think these girls want to age me! It was good to win a shootout at last (after two losses in Auckland) and we converted all our shots. We have a lot of work to do.”

Attila Biro (NZL) — Head Coach
“Disappointed because we took back this game. But we need to learn in these situations to play better, especially in the second and third quarters and learn how to finish the game.”

Nicole Lewis (NZL)
“Absolutely gutted. I think we fought for gold in the first and fourth (periods). We wanted it so badly but the second and third (periods) really let us down. We played with a lot of heart to come back the way we did and for that I am proud.”

Match 18: 16:00, KAZAKHSTAN 8 JAPAN 7
Round 5-8 Semifinal
Quarters: 1-2, 1-1, 4-2, 2-2

Referees: Steven Rotsart (USA), Marie-Claude Deslieres (CAN).
Extra Man: KAZ: 2/10. JPN: 2/9.
Pens: KAZ: 2/2. JPN: 1/1

KAZAKHSTAN: Alexandra Zharkimbayeva, Aruzhan Yegemberdiyeva, Aizhan Akilbayeva, Anna Turova (1), Kamila Zakirova (1), Irina Svinarenko, Zamira Myrzabekova (2), Oxana Saichuk, Darya Muravyeva, Darya Roga (1), Anastassiya Mirshina (1), Assem Mussarova (2), Darya Ryzhinskaya. Head Coach: Miroslav Trumbic.
JAPAN: Rikako Miura, Chiaki Sakanoue, Yuri Kazama, Shino Magariyama, Moe Nakata, Ayaka Takahashi, Yumi Nakano (2), Mitsuki Hashiguchi (1), Kana Hosoya (2), Tsubasa Mori (1), Midori Sugiyama (1), Kotari Suzuki (1), Yoko Umeda. Head Coach: Hideo Kato.

Match report:
Kazakhstan survived for a crack at a Super Final berth after a frantic final quarter in which both teams had chances to score and take the win. Japan had the better of the first half at 3-2, but it slipped out to 3-5 and 4-6 for Kazakhstan before Kana Hosoya scored her second consecutive goal to keep Japan in the hunt at 6-5. Kazakhstan took it to 7-5 and 8-6 by 3:44. Japan kept attacking and captain Tsubasa Mori scored on extra-man attack at 2:16 to narrow the match to one. There were frantic scenes and even Japan regained the ball and looked like calling a timeout in the dying seconds, but didn’t, a chance it rued when time was wasted and the equaliser failed to eventuate. Kazakhstan was through to the play-off for fifth and a chance for Shanghai.

KAZ vs JPN - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Miroslav Trumbic (KAZ) — Head Coach

“It was a thriller. I saw my team so much better today. We are really happy that we have won. Now tomorrow we can expect Brazil. We are both really motivated as there is a lot on the line. Last time was a draw (don’t include penalty shootout) so it’s 50/50.”

Hideo Kato (JPN) — Head Coach
“We didn’t have as much speed as usual from the beginning of the game. I should have played with the youngest girls. The senior players have played Kazakhstan so many times and only just keep up with their pace so therefore the younger players don’t have any precedence or notions. When I told the younger players to keep on driving and earn the exclusions, they did. I also instructed them to shoot quickly on power plays (six on fives).” On not winning, he said: “The game was a must-win so I am very sad and regretful.”

Match 19: 17:30, CHINA 6 AUSTRALIA 13

Round 1-4 Semifinal
Quarters: 2-5, 1-3, 1-2, 2-3

Referees: Svetlana Dreval (RUS), Fabio Toffoli (BRA).
Extra Man: CHN: 1/12. AUS: 0/4.
Pens: AUS: 1/2.

CHINA: Jun Yang, Jianing Tian, Zhujia Wang, Xiao Chen, Guannan Niu (1), Xiohan Mei, Donglun Song, Cong Zhang (1), Zihan Zhao (1), Dunhan Xiong, Xinyan Wang (1), Jing Zhang (2), Lin Peng. Head Coach: Rick Azevedo.
AUSTRALIA: Lea Yanitsas, Gemma Beadsworth (2), Hannah Buckling (1), Holly Lincoln-Smith (1), Isobel Bishop, Bronte Colenso, Ellodie Ruffin, Zoe Arancini (3), Bronte Halligan (1), Keesja Gofers (2), Nicola Zagame (3), Lillian Hedges. Head Coach: Greg McFadden.

Match Report:
Australia moved into the final with an accomplished victory over China, using superior skills and more experience deeper into the bench than China. Australia opened strongly with four unanswered goals in five minutes before Xinyan Wang accepted a long pass from the top down the left side to her post position, catching, turning and scoring while highly elevated. Zoe Arancini scored her second goal for 5-1. And Guannan Niu gained a disputed goal three seconds from the break for 5-2. The Aussie Stingers were in control of the second quarter despite a blocked penalty shot by Hannah Buckling. The third-quarter margin stretched to 10-3 before Cong Zhang flashed one in from the top after extra-man advantage at 0:59. Jin Zhang brought it to 10-5 early in the fourth when goals were traded, including a penalty strike by Nicola Zagame for her third. Keesja Gofers and Holly Lincoln-Smith with a centre-forward backhand inside the final minute, closed the match at 13-6.

CHN vs AUS - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Greg McFadden (AUS) — Head Coach)
“We started very good and our strong defence led to counter-attacks. We’ve been working a lot of defence in the last three-four months and we’re starting to nail it. Early in the week our attack was not very good but in the last two games it’s been very good. China is a very good team and to come away with a seven-goal win is a great result.”

Hannah Buckling (AUS)

“It’s good to get a win against China. They are a quick and explosive team and we gained lots of counter-attacks. We shut down a lot of their attacks. In tomorrow’s final it’s either Canada or USA. Canada’s centre forwards are not very mobile but Kami Craig (USA) is quick and experienced. It will be interesting implementing some new stuff, especially at centre back.”

Rick Azevedo (USA) — China Head Coach
“It was great. The girls played very well. Our plan was to focus on the centre-forward play and they did a great job earning 12 exclusions. It was a great game for us as we learned a lot and I thought the girls showed a lot of charisma and dedication.”

Round 1-4 Semifinal
Quarters: 3-4, 1-3, 0-1, 5-3

Referees: Diana Dutihl-Dumas (NED), Cory Williams (NZL).
Extra Man: CAN: 0/9. USA: 1/9.
Pens: CAN: 2/3.

CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Krystina Alogbo (2), Katrina Monton, Emma Wright (2), Monika Eggens, Jacqueline Kohli, Joelle Bekhazi (1), Shae Fournier, Carmen Eggens, Christine Robinson, Stephanie Valin (4), Dominique Perrault, Claire Wright. Head Coach: Johanne Begin.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Carlee Kapana, Colleen O’Donnell, Melissa Seidemann (1), Makenzie Fischer (3), Caroline Clark (1), Madeline Musselman (2), Courtney Mathewson (3), Aria Fischer, Madison Berggren, Kaleigh Gilchrist (1), Paige Hauschild, Kameryn Craig, Elizabeth Armstrong. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

Match report:
USA surged into the final after a torrid start where Canada applied plenty of pressure and refused to allow its southern neighbour free reign, especially in the first half. Canada shot back to win the final period but it was not enough. Canada opened the scoring and looked good until USA sent in a pair of goals in quick success, thanks to Courtney Mathewson on extra and Makenzie Fischer on counter from down the right. Stephanie Valin with a penalty goal and Emma Wright drew Canada level at 3-3. Goals were traded either side of the first-quarter break for 4-4 but USA clipped in two more on counter attack for 6-4. Monika Eggens was called for a slow penalty attempt and then Madeline Musselman with a second left in the half gave USA the margin it was looking for. USA was held to one goal in the third period as the score went to 9-4 two minutes into the final period. Valin nailed two more for 9-6 by 4:26, but tournament sensation Makenzie Fischer lobbed on counter to stretch the margin to four. Emma Wright and captain Krystina Alogbo scored within 32 second and the match was hovering precariously on 10-8 for USA at 2:27. It was put beyond doubt by Mel Seidemann at 1:34 when she scored easily from two metres off a short cross pass. Valin netted the last at 0:57, but it was not enough.

CAN vs USA - Photo credit: Russell McKinnon

Flash quotes:
Adam Krikorian (USA) — Head Coach

“The game as a whole was chaotic. I had a hard time getting a feel for the game. Our defence in the second and third quarters was the difference. We stepped up after the first quarter. We let our guard down in the fourth (quarter) and against a good team like Canada you can’t do it as they will get back into it.”

Johanne Begin (CAN) — Head Coach
“Our start was good; we were playing our way. But we lost our calm and we weren’t playing the game plan and then we did and we came back. I don’t think they [USA] did anything outstanding; we made mistakes and they accounted for them.”