quinta-feira, 18 de agosto de 2016

Water Polo Women's semi-finals - Golden showdown between Italy and the USA - Olympic Games 2016

Gergely Csurka, FINA Media Committee Member

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A kind of underlining why the women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament is regarded the toughest in water polo (besides the majors), this year’s final from Gouda is replayed in Rio between Italy and the United States. Both sides had to work hard in the semis but there was nothing to worry about in the last periods, against Russia and Hungary respectively.

Game 2, 12.20: Russia v Italy 9-12 (2-2, 2-4, 0-2, 5-4)
Referees: Xevi Buch (ESP), Mark Koganov (AZE)
RUSSIA: Anna Listyukhina, Nadezhda Glyzina 1, Ekaterina Prokofyeva 1, Elvina Karimova, Maria Borisova, Olga Gorbunova 1, Ekaterina Lisunova 2, Anastasia Simanovich, Anna Timofeeva, Evgeniia Soboleva 1, Evgeniya Ivanova 2, Anna Grineva 1, Anna Karnaukh (GK). Head coach: Aleksandr Gaidukov
ITALY: Giulia Gorlero, Chiara Tabani 2, Arianna Garibotti 5, Elisa Queirolo 1, Federica Radicchi 1, Rosaria Aiello, Tania di Mario 1, Roberta Bianconi 2, Giulia Emmolo, Francesca Pomeri, Aleksandra Pomeri, Aleksandra Cotti, Teresa Frassinetti, Laura Teani (GK). Head coach: Fabio Conti
Russia: 3 for 7
Italy: 2 for 7
Russia: none
Italy: 2 for 2

Image 2 The Italian players celebrate their fine win over Russia - Credit: G. Scala / Deepbluemedia
A brilliant game with a lot of twists and turns but at the end of the day Italy proved its superiority and managed to reach the final, a feat they achieved last time in 2004 when they captured the title.
The Russians had a flying start and took a 2-0 lead in less than two minutes. Italy responded well, Arianna Garibotti’s two action goals in 37 seconds put them on equal terms, then a missed man-up at both sides let the score settle at 2-2 after eight minutes. The Italians carried on their momentum to the second period, though, this time a goal from a 6 on 5 by Chiara Tabani and a penalty by Tania di Mario gave the Setterosa a 2-4 advantage. Their 0-4 rush was halted by Ekaterina Lisunova’s action shot and soon Nadezhda Glyzina’s fine centre goal brought back the score to even once more. As it turned out: for the last time. Before the middle break Garibotti netted another one from the distance and 43 seconds later Federica Radicchi added another one, resetting the two-goal cushion (4-6).
And just in the previous quarter, the first two minutes saw more fine goals from the Italians, completing another 0-4 rush for 4-8 – of course, Garibotti was part of the show again, with another action goal. A change in front of the Russian cage slowed down the Italian’s march, but just for a while – and the Russians couldn’t get any closer at the other end either.
As it was expected, they began to play a much riskier game in the fourth and this counter-attack chasing approach began to pay off. After 5-9 they netted two for 7-9, but Garibotti did the damage again, netting her 5th of the afternoon, and even though Anna Grineva responded immediately, a penalty by Roberta Bianconi with 1:41 from time closed down the contest (8-11). Thus, Italy maintained its unbeaten run here while Russia is yet to reach the Olympic final – what’s more, they had to win one more game to get a medal for the first time after 2000. 
 Fabio Conti, head coach, Italy
"The final is the dream. Every player and every coach wants to reach that dream and now we have to make sure the dream doesn't stop."
"Arianna (Garibotti) is a quality player. She doesn't feel fear and that's what makes her so good. When we are in danger she can go out there and do everything for us."
 Aleksandr Gaidukov, assistant coach, Russia:
"We are now competing for the main prizes so you have to show your best. The girls put their whole soul into this game. Not everything has gone as planned but they are trying their hardest."
"We were trying to find their weak spots. Even today we were trying to find their weak players. I think the referees were quite fair despite penalties and fouls going against us. It's our own fault. Unfortunately, some things went right and some things went wrong. During the last part of the game we missed some chances which shouldn't have happened."
"The main factor was uncertainty in our minds. We were ready functionally, but not completely ready technically. We will work on this for the bronze medal match."

Game 4, 16.30: Hungary v United States 10-14 (2-3, 3-5, 3-4, 2-2)
Referees: Daniel Flahive (AUS), Georgios Stavridis (GRE)
HUNGARY: Orsolya Kaso, Dora Czigany 1, Dora Antal, Hanna Kisteleki 2, Gabriella Szucs, Orsolya Takacs, Anna Illes, Rita Keszthelyi 4, Ildiko Toth, Barbara Bujka 2, Dora Csabai, Krisztina Garda 1, Edinga Gangl (GK). Head coach: Attila Biro
USA: Ashleigh Johnson, Madeline Musselman 2, Melissa Seidemann 1, Rachel Fattal 1, KK Clark, Maggie Steffens 4, Courtney Matthewson 1, Kiley Neushul 2, Aria Fischer, Kaleigh Gilchrist 1, Makenzie Fischer 1, Kami Craig 1, Sami Hill (GK). Head coach: Adam Krikorian
Hungary: 5 for 7
USA: 6 for 12

image 3 Maggie Steffens is about to score one of her four goals against Hungary
Hungarian head coach, Attila Biro said before the match that if any team was capable of beating the US side, it was his European champion side. Well, the plan didn’t work, based on the outcome. The Magyar girls fought hard and bravely but the US team is so strong, so united, so skilled that it requires a 100 percent effort from any opponent to have a real chance to catch them – if it’s enough at all. The Dutch lost to them 5-4 in last year’s World Championships final in Kazan, that was their closest battle in the recent seasons. And of course, they captured all titles on offer since 2012, with the exception of the 2013 Worlds. Any time they have a possession, the scoring threat is stronger than against any other side. If you earn a 6 on 5, you know it’s a must to score, otherwise the gap can start growing. Teams are under enormous pressure both in defence and in offence and after a while they usually break down.
Here the Hungarians did what no other teams could so far in the entire tournament: took the lead against the title-holders. It happened at 2-1, but the reply came soon as Melissa Seidemann netted one from the distance and still in the first Maggie Steffens scored another fine action goal for 2-3. Despite a late miss in a man-up, the Hungarians could stay in visible distance in the second, Barbara Bujka’s bouncing shot hit the back of the net from a dying 6 on 5 for 3-4, but soon the usual numbers began to appear on the scoreboard. Three goals in 1:58 minutes made it 3-7, sooner or later it happens in the matches of US.
Still, the Hungarians tried to chase their rivals, they trailed by three at half-time (5-8) and a really fine one-timer from Rita Keszthelyi brought them even closer early in the third. But before their hopes would have become bigger, the US girls responded with a breathtaking display of attacking water polo. Three back-to-back possessions, three fantastic drives, three goals from close range, like checkmate in chess. It was 6-11 in a sudden, so in two and half minutes the job was finished, from that point there was no way back for the European champions. Credits to the Magyars that they didn’t let the game go, kept up fighting, as they have to take one more step to earn a medal for the first time in their history (among the women they have two painful 4thplace finishes from 2008 and 2012). They managed to keep their composure and were defeated by four goals at the end – from another perspective: it was the ‘narrowest’ win by the US team so far in Rio...
Adam Krikorian, head coach, USA:
"We could be playing dominoes back at the apartment and they would all want to beat me and beat each other. This group hates to lose and that makes my job much easier. It's as much of a mental challenge as it is a physical challenge. I'm fortunate to have an extremely competitive group."
"We were complete offensively and complete in terms of our effort. We didn't lose focus but I do think we could have done a better job defensively. We haven't given up 10 goals in a long time. Hungary is a great offensive team so we knew it was going to be a challenge but I wish we could have done a little better job defensively."
Attila Biro, head coach, Hungary:
“It could have been closer if we had avoided a couple of errors, especially in defence. Then we could have played a more even match. We started well, then we had a weaker period, then we could come back to the game but towards the end of the third their physically superiority began to dominate. You need an extremely high level goalie performance, tight defence, efficient blocking to be able to beat this US team. What we want to achieve now is the bronze medal and we have enough gas left in the tank to play well on the last day.”
 Rita Keszthelyi, captain, Hungary:
“Our defence was disastrous, we conceded 14 goals. We have to review where we made the mistakes if we wish to clinch the bronze medal. I don’t want to go home with empty hands and surely I won’t.”

For places 5-8th
Game 1, 11.00: Australia v Brazil 11-4 (2-1, 3-1, 4-1, 2-1)
Referees: Marie-Claude Deslieres (CAN), Ni Shi Wei (CHN)
AUSTRALIA: Kelsey Wakefield, Gemma Beadsworth, Hannah Buckling 1, Holly Lincoln-Smith 1, Keesja Gofers, Bronwen Knox 1, Rowie Webster, Glencora McGhie 1, Zoe Arancini 3, Ash Southern 3, Isobel Bishop, Nicola Zagame 1, Lea Yanitsas (GK). Head coach: Greg McFadden
BRAZIL: Tess Oliveira, Diana Abla, Marina Zablith, Marina Canetti, Lucianne Barroncas, Izabella Chiappini 2, Amanda Oliveira 1, Luiza Carvalho, Camila Pedrosa, Viviane Bahia, Mariane Duarte 1, Gabriela Mantellato, Victoria Chamorro. Head coach: Patrick Oaten
Australia: 3 for 11
Brazil: 1 for 6
Australia: 2 for 3
Brazil: 0 for 1

Image 4 The Brazilians tried it hard but it wasn't their day... Credit: Marcel Terbals / Waterpoloworld
For almost two periods it was an equal encounter, since the Aussies needed some time to rebuild their friendship with their beloved game where they went through the utmost disappointment two days ago while losing to Hungary in the most heartbreaking way, after a penalty shootout.
But towards the end of the second quarter they were back and after 2-2 they scored three connecting goals in a span of 77 seconds and they never looked back. Soon it was 7-2, so the hosts could do nothing but try to minimalise the margin of their defeat. A missed penalty at 7-3 didn’t help though late in the fourth their goalie also stopped one. Still, thanks to the powerful offensive play of Ash Southern, who was really outstanding in the whole tourney, and Zoe Arancini, they scored three goals apiece, the Aussies won with ease and restored some pride.

Game 3, 15.10: Spain v China 11-6 (2-2, 2-0, 4-2, 3-2)
Referees: Radoslaw Koryzna (POL), Fabio Toffoli (BRA)
 SPAIN: Laura Ester, Marta Bach, Anna Espar 2, Beatriz Ortiz, Matilde Ortiz, Paula Leiton, Clara Espar, Pilar Pena 2, Judith Forca 2, Roser Tarrago 1, Maica Garcia 2, Laura Lopez 2, Patricia Herrera (GK). Head coach: Miguel Oca
CHINA: Yang Jun, Ma Huanhuan 2, Mei Xiaohan, Siong Dunham, Niu Guannan 1, Sun Yating, Song Donglun, Zhang Cong 1, Zhao Zihan 1, Zhang Weiwei, Wang Xinyan, Zhang Jing 1, Peng Lin (GK). Head coach: Rick Azevedo
Spain: 6 for 12
China: 3 for 14
Spain: 0 for 1
China: 1 for 2
The first period brought a balanced game but from the second period the gap began to grow, with two man-up goals from Anna Espar, even though between the two Roser Tarrago’s penalty was well saved by Yang Jun. Defences worked well, 6 on 5s were denied in succession at both ends so it stood 2-4 at half-time.
Maica Garcia’s classical centre-goal was followed by Ma Huanhuan’s fine distance shot but two more action goals in the middle of the third, in a span of 25 seconds for a 3-7 lead diminished the Chinese chances. In the fourth they could shave the Spaniards’ advantage to three, but not more and they could hold it that just for a while. The last two goals came from the 2012 runner-up so it turned into a big win for Spain.
Italy v United States
Bronze medal game
Russia v Hungary
For places 5-6
Australia v Spain
For places 7-8
Brazil v China


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