Auckland, December 16.— Russia will play Netherlands while Spain clashes with Italy in Saturday’s semifinals of the FINA World Women’s Youth Water Polo Championships at the Sir Owen G Glenn National Aquatic Centre in Auckland.
In quarterfinal action on the fifth day, Russia beat United States of America in sudden-death penalty shootout 16-15 and survived a protest that was lodged by USA and later withdrawn. Netherlands was too good for China 13-6; Spain outplayed Greece 15-10 and in the fourth match, Italy needed a shootout to defeat Hungary 13-12 after levelling the match at 8-8.
In the semifinal round of 9-12, Australia beat Germany 21-1 and New Zealand outlasted Canada 12-10.
In the classification match 13-14, Japan defeated South Africa 15-7.
The tournament, like the youth men's event some months ago, is being played with just 11 of the 13-player rosters, with 25 seconds possession time and 15 seconds exclusion periods. This makes for a much faster style of game with more shots and plenty of goals. However, following this tournament, FINA is not expected to continue with experimental rules.
Japan exited the competition as the 13th best team and South Africa as the 14th, but one can’t stop wondering whether Japan could have finished higher going on earlier performances. Both team learned a lot and it was probably South Africa who gained the most from the encounter. South Africa defended well for most of the first half and was effective at the other end. Japan needed some time to settle before coming alive late in the second quarter and moving away easily in the second half. South Africa closed to 5-4 close to halftime before Japan swam out to 8-4. The first and last goals of the third belonged to South Africa as it played much better and pleased head coach Brad Rowe. Teams were allowed to play with only five major fouls recorded. Kaho Iwano was a model of consistency with a goal in each quarter and South Africa’s Zandre Smit almost achieved the feat with a goal in each of the first three periods.
Photo: Russell McKinnon
Match 33, 10.50am, AUSTRALIA 21 GERMANY 1
Round 9-12 Semifinal
Quarters: 4-1, 7-0, 6-0, 4-0
Referees: Martin Murray (CAN), Dasch Barber (RSA).
Extra Man: AUS: 5/7. GER: 0/3.
AUSTRALIA: Gabriella Palm, Emma Jones (7), Kiara Holden, Matilda Kearns (2), Sofia Chaves (3), Alice Williams (2), Brooke Dickie (1), Danielle Morrissey (3), Savannah Henshaw (1), Sofie Pontre (2), Bridget Johnston. Head Coach: Predrag Mihailovic.
Australia had too much firepower for a Germany that has under-performed at these championships. Australia itself is not at the glory days of previous junior championships, but showed plenty of aggression and turned it on for a debut win in Auckland. Australia now goes to the 9-10 play-off on Saturday. Germany did bring some joy to the team bench when Jamie Verebelyi scored a long lob from the left side of the pool for 3-1. Germany had go back two days since it last scored, having been defeated 21-0 by United States of America on Wednesday. Germany will leave with lessons learned and Australia still has a task ahead of it.
Photo: Russell McKinnon
Match 34, 12.10pm, NEW ZEALAND 12 CANADA 10
Round 9-12 Semifinal
Quarters: 3-2, 2-4, 4-1, 3-3
Referees: Svetlana Dreval (RUS), Daniel Daners (URU).
CANADA: Ana Maria Vulpisi, Tyanna Supreme, Nina Ceklic (1), Viktoria Orlova (2), Joelle Nacovski (3), Emily Aikema, Adrien Van Dyke, Verica Bakoc (1), Keara Boan, Brianna Vtas (3), Katherine Campbell. Head Coach: Andrew Robinson.
It was excitement plus, especially for the local crowd who turned out in their droves for the lunchtime feast. Feast it may have been as the match see-sawed with New Zealand winning the first quarter and Canada the second. Canada held the upper hand for the start of the third until it all changed. The turning point in the match was when Canada witnessed two Kiwi goals and then had two one on ones with the goalkeeper and missed the goal twice. New Zealand responded with a third consecutive goal for 9-7, which closed out the third period. Canada, driving and shooting often, finally gained a breakthrough from an unmarked position at the start. New Zealand responded on extra and Canada did the same for 10-9. Then a long shot from 14-year-old Morgan McDowall gave the home team a buffer that was exaggerated less than a minute later on extra for 12-9. Canada fought desperately as the match was slipping away, giving away too many major fouls — 13 in fact — in the process. New Zealand repelled several Canadian attacks in the final minutes, letting one goal in at 0:34 for 12-10. Time ran out for Canada and New Zealand thoroughly deserved its upcoming clash with New Zealand for ninth place. Canada will play Germany for 11th. If New Zealand had converted more extra-man goals, the task could have been easier.
Photo: Russell McKinnon
Match 35, 4.00pm, RUSSIA UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in penalty shootout
Round 1-8 Quarterfinal
Quarters: 2-1, 2-4, 4-3, 1-1
Referees: Andreas Moiralis (GRE), Oriel Jaumandreau (ESP)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Heidi Ritner, Alexis Liebowitz (3+2), Jewel Roemer, Abrielle Hill, Paige Hauschild (3+2), Bayley Weber (1), Madeline Johnston (1), Sarah Klass (2), Aria Fischer (3+1), Ryann Neushul, (2+1) Thea Walsh. Head Coach: Marcelo Leonardi.
* Shootout goals
It needed a sudden-death penalty shootout to separate two of the leading teams in the competition. After a 9-9 normal-time match, both teams had a miss in the first round of five shots and needed to go to sudden death. Both teams scored twice and then Jewel Roemer had her shot blocked by goalkeeper Evgenia Golovina. It was up to the sharp outside shooter Alena Serzhantova to seal the match. However, in the mayhem of the final quarter, a Russian player allegedly re-entered the pool after already having three major fouls. She seemingly misinterpreted what her coach was saying about getting to the corner quickly. This meant she should have been an illegal player and a penalty shot awarded. Play continued following a turnover foul and after the match USA protested and later, in the interests of sportsmanship, withdrew the protest, meaning Russia was the winner. Back to the match — both teams fought strongly, gave a huge account of themselves and provided high-speed entertainment like no other match in Auckland. Russia started the stronger while USA had the halftime lead. The teams tied at five, six, seven and eight en route to the shootout. In fact, the only score they didn’t tie was at one because Russia had a 2-0 advantage. Russia had lost four players to three major fouls by the final buzzer, severely restricting its shootout power. which made the victory even more meritorious. Russia had 14 fouls to USA’s six. USA converted just two of its 13 chances and this was the real reason for the loss. Russia had a similar percentage from six attempts.
CHINA: Jingying Wu, Yanan Bi (2), Sanfeng Nong (2), Dunhan Xiong, Shiyun Wang, Wen Su, Rui Xu, Qingwei Wang, Xinyan Meng (2), Jiawen Li, Yuting Xie. Head Coach: Dali Gong.
Netherlands claimed the second berth in the semifinals with a sparkling victory over China, who was playing at its best this tournament. The Dutch went three up early and that advantage gave them confidence and allowed them to play their natural game. Shooting from downtown Auckland at times, Netherlands used exceptional skills to nullify China’s defence. China pressed hard and at times upset the Dutch rhythm. China was also good with missiles from near halfway and, as many teams have in Auckland, have done so to beat the buzzer, catching many teams out so many times. The 25-second possession is probably not something that will be seen again at this level in the near future.
Picture: Russell McKinnon
Match 37, 6.40pm, GREECE 10 SPAIN 15
Round 1-8 Quarterfinal
Quarters: 1-6, 2-4, 2-2, 5-3
Referees: Nicola Johnson (AUS), Henk Smit (NED)
Extra Man: GRE: 3/13. ESP: 1/8.
GREECE: Ioanna Stamatopoulou, Elisavet Protopapas (3), Eleni Elliniadi, Nikoleta Eleftheriadou (5), Vasiliki Plevritou (1), Maria Eleni Seletopoulou (1), Dimitra Papanastasiou, Maria Patra, Ifigeneia Mavrota, Maria Myriokefalitaki, Marina Kotsioni. Head Coach: Stefanos Leandros.
SPAIN: Sandra Domene, Paula Crespi (2), Paula Leiton (1), Mireia Guiral (7), Alejandra Aznar (3), Blanca Goset, Laura Gomes, Carmen Barringo, Alba Bonamusa (1), Sofia Diaz (1), Paula Rutgers. Head Coach: Jordi Valls.
Spain brought its top game to the quarterfinals and outgunned Greece, built mainly on an excellent opening quarter. With the score heading to 10-3 by the long break, Spain could settle into a rhythm and Greece was left wondering what had gone wrong. Many people were picking Greece and to see Spain so dominant was a shock for Greek supporters. Spain knew it had the game to take forward to the semifinals and beyond and proved it with all-round play. Spain has a strong pivot in Olympian Paula Leiton and she is hard to handle in the hole position. Greece improved considerably in the second half and started taking the game to Spain. That impetus gave some hope in the final eight minutes, winning 5-3 — Nikoleta Eleftheriadou netting four of them — but by then it was too late. Both teams struggled with the extra-man advantage and Spain had two players tossed for three majors. Mireia Guiral had a field day with seven goals spread over all four quarters.
HUNGARY: Gina Lekrinski, Reka Miklos (4+1), Vanda Valyi (1+1*), Orsolja Hertska (3+1), Henriett Adam, Hlengiwe Mchunu (2+1), Laura Koncz, Csenge Toth, Eszter Kiss (2), Anna Mucsi, Alda Magyari. Head Coach: Gabor Godova.
ITALY: Caterina Banchelli, Agnese Cocchiere (2), Claudia Presta (2), Giulia Cuzzupe (2+1), Chiara Foresta (1+1), Giulia Millo (1+1), Domitilla Picozzi (3), Elisa Quattrini, Lucrezia Cergol, Elena Altamura (1+1), Sara Ingannamorte. Head Coach: Paolo Cizza.
The second penalty shootout of the night occurred just when people were about to head home. No-one it seemed left the stadium because the match was so exciting and close. Both teams provided flashes of brilliance and Italy looked a shoe in for the semifinal position, but Hungary had other ideas clawing back to 4-3 by halftime. Italy went two up and then Hungary levelled at five, going ahead 6-5 through Reka Miklos 24 seconds from the final break. Italy levelled, went ahead, had Hungary level and then scored on extra at 1:12. It looked like an Italy win. Then Hungary fired back after taking a timeout and netting on the third touch for 8-8 at 0:50. This led to the shootout. Hungary went first and both teams scored twice. Italy substituted its goalkeeper and immediately struck gold with a stop. The remainder of the goals went in and Italy won the shootout and advanced to the semifinals and will face Spain on Saturday.