Italian Women Will Play for Water Polo Gold after Eliminating Russia


  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Water Polo: August 6-20
  • Maria Lenk Aquatics Centre/Olympic Aquatics Stadium, Rio de Janeiro
  • Schedule & Results

Italy advanced to the final of the women’s water polo tournament in Rio de Janeiro with a 12-9 win over the Russian Federation on Wednesday.

Evgeniya Ivanova put Russia on the board in the first 15 seconds of play with a goal from outside 5 meters. A minute and a half later it was her teammate Olga Gorbunova who connected, giving Russia a 2-0 lead with not quite 2 minutes elapsed. Italy’s Arianna Garibotti scored two in a row soon thereafter and the teams were tied at 2-2 when the first quarter whistle blew.

Chiara Tabani opened the second period with a power play goal at 7:19 left on the clock. Roberta Bianconi put Italy up 4-2 scoring on a penalty shot. Russia then evened the score with goals from Ekaterina Lisunova and Nadezhda Glyzina. A minute later Italy was up by two again after Garibotti and Federica Radicchi each netted long-distance shots. At halftime the score was 6-4 to Italy.

Italy opened the third quarter with a 1-2 punch from Garibotti and Tania di Mario in the first two minutes. Trailing 8-4, Russia brought in goalkeeper Anna Ustyukhina to substitute for Anna Karnaukh. The next six minutes proved to be a defensive battle; neither team scored and both Ustyukhina and Italian goalkeeper Giulia Gorlero made several key saves.

In contrast, the fourth quarter was a scoring bonanza. Lisunova narrowed Italy’s lead with a power play shot with 6:09 left to play. Chiara Tabani put Italy up 9-5 with 5:04 on the clock. Ivanova kept Russia’s hopes alive with a marker less than 20 seconds later. Ekaterina Prokofyeva took advantage of an Italian exclusion foul to net one with 3:17 left in the game. The score was now 9-7. But Garibotti, who came through for Italy again and again throughout the match, put Italy up by three again, scoring on a power play. Anna Grineva took advantage of a player-up situation to score for Russia with 1:58 on the clock. She was then charged with a penalty foul which Bianconi converted to put Italy up 11-8. Elisa Queirolo connected on a long shot with :57 left to make it 12-8 Italy. The match ended with a Russian goal by Evgeniia Soboleva to make the final tally 12-9 in favor of Italy.

Italy remains undefeated in Rio, with 5 wins and no losses. The Italian squad won gold in the 2004 Olympics but missed medaling in each of the last two Games. They will play the winner of the other semifinal match, between the United States and Hungary, in the final on Friday.


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About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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