2023 WORLD AQUATICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
The stage has been set for the gold medal game at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships in women’s water polo, with the Netherlands and Spain securing semi-final victories on Wednesday.
The Dutch team will have an opportunity to win the world title for a second time, having first done so in 1991 (they also won Olympic gold in 2008), and have locked up a second straight medal after earning bronze last summer.
The Spaniards, fifth in 2022, will also have a shot at winning their second-ever world title in women’s water polo, first winning in 2013.
The semi-final victories for both squads also secures their qualification for next summer’s Olympics in Paris.
SEMI FINAL 1 – NETHERLANDS 9, ITALY 8
The Dutch team got off to a strong start, leading 4-2 after the first quarter, and never looked back. Italy fought to bring its deficit down to one goal, 6-5, at halftime, but the two teams essentially traded goals the rest of the way as the Netherlands emerged victorious by a final score of 9-8.
Iris Wolves and Lieke Rogge led the Dutch with two goals apiece, while Simone van de Kraats was named Player of the Match after she had six shots, won all three sprints for possession she contested and logged 26:35 of playing time, tops on the team excluding the goalkeeper.
Claudia Roberta Marletta recorded a hat trick for Italy, while Giuditta Galardi scored twice.
The victory for the Duch team came after they lost a nail-biter, 13-12 to Hungary, in last year’s semis.
“We stayed calm,” said Dutch coach Evangelos Doudesis. “The moment of our attacking game was not very good. We stayed calm, so we could perform very well in defence on that side of the field, so that gave us confidence. The fact that we stayed calm on the day means mental power and that was the reason we qualified against a perfect team. I don’t have an answer to it.
“We need to focus and every day improve every aspect of our game in defence and in attack. It is a very big day for Dutch water polo. It is the second consecutive medal in World Championships, something that has never happened since 2000 when water polo became an Olympic sport.”
SEMI-FINAL 2: SPAIN 12, AUSTRALIA 10
Spain got off to a sizzling start and never relinquished it, as an early goal from Elena Ruiz opened the floodgates to give the team a 5-2 advantage after the first quarter.
From there, the Aussies actually outscored the Spaniards 8-7, and also outshot them as a whole 30-24. But nonetheless, Spain held on for the victory.
“We started very well in the game, scoring three goals and defending very, very well, so we opened a distance in the score, keeping two to three goals and we have been keeping that throughout the game, so that gave us a little bit of calmness to get to the end of the game,” said Spanish coach Miguel Oca.
Arancini, the Aussie team captain, said they lacked communication and execution in the loss.
“It was not our best game,” said Arancini. “I think our communication and defence was poor, which led to some easy goals for the Spanish. Then in the attack we were not converting our opportunities. I think overall we struggled with our conversions in general.”
- France beat Israel 11-7 in the ninth-place game.
- New Zealand beat South Africa 25-6 in the 11th-place game.
- China topped Japan 18-10 in the 13th-place game.
- Kazakhstan beat Argnetina in the 10-8 in the 15th-place game.
The Netherlands and Spain will face off for gold on Friday at 6:00 pm local time, while the Italians and Australians will battle for bronze at 1:00 pm.
The United States will play Hungary for fifth and Canada and Greece will fight for seventh on Friday as well.