Medals Table through 4 Days
Women’s Water Polo
The Dutch women’s water polo team was once a proud lot, having won the Olympic gold medal in 2008 and having been arguably the best program in Europe in the 1970’s, 80’s, and the early part of the 90’s.
Their 2013 World Championship tournament started Sunday with a narrow loss to the hot-handed Spanish team, but their second match on Tuesday resulted in several record-breaking honors as they topped Uzbekistan, the runners-up from Asia, 30-3. That gave them the largest margin of victory in the history of the World Championships, and also was the 19th different country that the Netherlands has defeated in the World Championships: more than any program in history.
Lieka Klaassen scored 6 goals in the lopsided affair, and like most of her team, she immediately turned her attention to the upcoming showdown with the powerful Russian team.
“That match was interesting,” Klaassen said. “We did find ourselves. We have an important match against Russia and we think that we can win. Russia is a good team. We played in the past against them and sometimes we won and others we didn’t. So it will be equal.”
Biurakn Hakhverdian echoed those comments, saying “Our next game is against Russia; they are always on the top, they fight for the medals. They have good shooters. So we have to be focused on the match, like we were today. I think it is going to be an exciting game. ”
That match, which will be played on Thursday, will be for the top of the table in Group A, the victor of whom would result in a first-round matchup against South Africa (who is 0-2 in this tournament) in the round of 16. All 16 teams advance to the knockout stage, so the Group structure is primarily for seeding purposes. That’s after Russia beat the hosts Spain in a very tight 7-6 outcome, led by 4 goals from the rather diminutive Ekaterina Prokofyeva.
She has a total of 10 goals through two matches, making her the highest scorer in the tournament thus far.
That victory for the Russians despite the highest attendance of this tournament yet as the host country rallies behind their proficient women’s team, with 1,500 fans in the stands.
Spain beat the Netherlands already, so if Russia wins the match, they win the group. If the Netherlands wins the match, then it would be down to goal differential between Spain and the Netherlands; at present, that’s +25 for the Netherlands and +1 for Spain, but remember that the Spanish still have a match against Uzbekistan. Either South Africa or New Zealand (the two probable opponents) would be a comfortable first round opponent, though New Zealand easily won the head-to-head between those two. What everyone’s trying to avoid, however, is having to play China, the defending World League Champions, in the first round, as the 3rd-place finisher would have to do.
Australia all-but-sealed their passage as the top seed in Group B with a comfortable 14-5 lead over China. on Tuesday.
Though the margin is fairly large, that comfort only really became apparent to the Australians in the second-half. China, who won the 2013 World League title, was actually ahead 5-4 in what was a shaky start for goalkeeper Kelsey Wakefield. The Australians have two entirely new goalies from their Olympic squad last year, and in the team’s first match they divided time. Wakefield had the better performance of the two to earn this start, and after some early jitters settled down to pitch a perfect shutout in the second half, where the Australians outpaced the Chinese by a partial margin of 10-0.
The Chinese, meanwhile, had extremely limited possession time thanks to Australia’s aggressive, and impressive, defensive performance. That included 15 steals, forcing 21 turnover fouls on the Chinese, and 6 field blocks. Barring a monumental upset against the South Africans, Australia will go on to play Uzbekistan in the first round of the knockout stages.
Meanwhile, New Zealand played a much better match on Tuesday than they did on Sunday to open the tournament, topping South Africa 13-7. New Zealand got 4 goals from Alexandra Myles and Kirsten Hudson each, and with neither spending more than 22 minutes in the field.
South Africa actually shot relatively well (7/18) when they could get shots off, but with some shaky goal tending behind them (Brooke Millar only stopped 3 of 10 shots on target), New Zealand’s field defense was the difference maker. They had 17 steals and forced 27 exclusion fouls against South Africa. South Africa got three goals from Kelsey White, but also saw Marcelle Keet excluded three times in just 14 minutes of action (with none of those exclusions being called at 2 meters). That allowed Australia to convert on 3 of 7 man-up opportunities.
The Americans moved into poll position in Group C after beating North American rivals Canada 10-8.
This was another very-tight affair between their two countries, reminiscent of the match played in the championship of the 2011 Pan Am Games (the Olympic qualifier) that saw the Americans finally break a deadlock in a penalty shootout by final score of 27-26 (37 of those goals came in the shootout).
This was a total team effort by both squads, as the United States got two goals a piece from Lauren Silver and Melissa Seidemann, while Canada earned a trio from Dominique Perreault. That is a much better result for Perreault than we saw in Canada’s first match, where she was limited to 15 minutes on the back of three exclusion fouls.
Canada also got a pair from 17-year old Emma Wright, the future of their program, including two late when the United States had built a bit of a lead.
“The game was a rollercoaster ride,” said American Kiley Neushul. “We did well, got away but they got back. Canada is a good team. We did well in the first half, but then we lost the concentration. Canada has good shooters.”
Canadian captain Krystina Alogbo felt that her team did everything they could for a stretch in the second half before running out of gas. ““We dominated the game in the second half. If only we could have continued being that strong we could have won, but we got tired.”
With tie-breakers against Canada and Greece, the Americans are locked take the top spot, which means a likely open against Brazil in the round of 16. The Americans can’t totally overlook their last match against 0-2, but quality 0-2, Britain.
The British women played to a 13-7 loss against Greece in their match, though they had things tied in a defensive struggle at halftime 3-3. Greece got four goals from Christina Chrysoula Tsoukala and five from Alexandra Asimaki to account for a bulk of their scoring, and also scored two penalty shots.
In what has become a very well-paired group D, Hungary won a key match against Italy by score of 10-4 on Tuesday, making them the first team in the group to win a pair. That was behind a great performance in cage from Flora Bolonyai, who blocked a total of 71% of the shots that came her way, including stopping all 5 man-up situations. Bolonyai is the keeper that led the USC women to this year’s NCAA National Championship in a thrilling sudden-death victory over Stanford.
The Italians, meanwhile, are not a very high-scoring team typically. They weren’t sloppy offensively, per se (they only committed 10 turnover fouls and only gave up 4 steals) but they do struggle to get quality shots. They scored 4 goals on 33 attempts, but only 14 of those shots were on-target, and as the Hungarians pushed them away, 19 were forced off of fouls beyond 5 meters. Boloyai is too good for that strategy.
The Hungarians got four goals each from Rita Keszthelyi and Barbara Bujka. Kezthelyi now has 9 through two matches.
In the other match, Kazakhstan beat Brazil 9-5. Both teams got solid play in goal, though the Brazilians’ came perhaps too late: they pulled Manuela Canetti in the third quarter after giving up her 7th goal and replaced her with Victoria Chamorro, who stopped 4 out of 6 shots the rest of the way.
The Brazilians were their own worst enemy though; they took all four sprints in the match, but balanced that out with 12 exclusion fouls (including two starters earning three each – though Marina Zablith’s third didn’t come until the last minute).
Two medal sets were handed out in diving on Tuesday, again swept by the Chinese for 5 golds in 6 events thus far. China’s He Zi, defending Olympic silver medalist in the 3-meter, took the women’s 1 meter title with a score of 307.10. This marks her second World Championship of all-time in this non-Olympic event, as well as her third altogether.
It was very much a nail-biter, however; though she never really faltered too much, on the 1-meter there is little margin for error against a field this strong. On a 203B in the second round, she received as low as a 7.5, which on the easiest dive of her schedule resulted in a sub-60 point score.
The result was an incredibly close final, where Italy’s Tania Cagnotto finished just one-tenth of one-point behind He for silver. Cagnotto already had a silver from the 3 meter synchro, and is one of only two Italians (along with synchro partner Francesca Dallape) to have medaled thus far at the World Championships. Wang Han, the defending silver medalist, was good for just bronze this year, with a finishing score of 29.75.
Mexico’s Dolores Hernandez finished 4th, and Canadian Pamela Ware was 5th. The lone American to make the final was Deidre Freeman, who finished 11th out of 12 divers.
In the men’s 3-meter synchro final, China won running-away with a finals score of 448.86. The victors were Qin Kai and He Chong; Kai is the veteran of the pair, having won the last two Olympic gold medals and now four-straight World Championships in this event, but this is his first time diving with Chong at an event of this level.
The Russians Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov were 2nd in 428.01, and the Mexican duo of Rommel Pachecho and Jahir Ocampo were 3rd in 422.79. Patrick Hausdingand Stephan Feck from Germany finished 4th, while the American combination of 33-year old Troy Dumais and 18-year old Michael Hixon were 5th.