Australia and the USA will have a rematch of their opening match in the final of the World League Intercontinental Cup in Auckland after contrasting semifinal wins.
Australia, who beat the USA with a goal in the final few seconds on day one, did the same against China in their semifinal, while the USA had a five goal buffer in their win against neighbors Canada.
USA coach Adam Krikorian was disappointed they’d conceded so 11 goals but happy with the attack which produced 16.
While China and Canada will play off bronze, Canada will do it without head coach David Paradelo who was ejected for arguing with the referees.
Quarters: 4-2, 1-3, 5-4, 4-5
Kazakhstan won in dramatic fashion with a referee’s overrule giving them a draw on full time before they won the penalty shootout 4-3, with one of New Zealand’s best shooters, Emmerson Houghton, hitting the bar. Kazakhstan led 4-2 at the first break but New Zealand responded strongly in the second period to go into halftime tied 5-5 in a performance that had the small crowd calling for more.
In the third quarter New Zealand gave Anastassiya Yeremina too much space and she responded with four goals as Kazakhstan picked up five to lead 10-9 going into the final quarter. Yeremina was injured mid-way through the third quarter with the game stopped as she received medical attention. She’d scored twice already and came back from the stoppage to score two more. But New Zealand had a sharp shooter of their own in Houghton who scored once in the second quarter and three times in the third. She has nine for the tournament. Yeremina was fouled out of the game with five minutes to play as Bernie Doyle drew a penalty that Houghton converted to draw New Zealand to 11-10 then Morgan McDowall levelled the scores.
She scored again to have the game at 12-12 and sucked a penalty for Houghton to put New Zealand in front for the first time, 13-12. McDowall scored a screamer out the back of the hand for New Zealand’s 14th goal but Kazakhstan took the game to penalties, 14-14, with a goal to Zamira Myrzabekova. The goal umpire said the ball didn’t cross the line but was overruled by referee Michael Goldenburg from the USA. Kazakhstan won the shootout 4-3 with Houghton, so accurate through the match, missing along with Brydie Pye.
New Zealand coach, Angie Winstanley-Smith, commented:
“I’m proud of the girls. I’m disappointed for them that we lost because they deserved to win but that’s good practice for us in how to execute under pressure. We didn’t start well. We didn’t do what we’d talked about and that’s fatigue but we got it back quickly.”
Quarters: 6-1, 6-1, 5-1, 7-0
Japan’s Chiaki Sakanoue has moved into the competition’s top 10 shooters with five against New Zealand 2 in a 24-3 win taking her to nine for tournament. Teammate Yumi Arima scored three in the one-sided thrashing to stay in second place four behind Canada’s Monika Eggens with 15 goals. Kana Hosoya also scored five times against the young Kiwi team with three of hers in a final quarter that saw Japan out score New Zealand 7-0. The result means New Zealand’s two teams will play each other tomorrow for seventh, while Japan take on Kazakhstan for fifth.
Quarters: 1-1, 2-3, 2-2, 2-2
In a tournament where attack has dominated, defense was to the fore in Australia 8-7 win against China with the winning goal coming with less that two seconds on the clock. It showed Australia’s composure under pressure, just as they had when they beat the USA in similar circumstances on day one.
The hero in both match was Morgan Baxter who said having the confidence to take the shot in the final few seconds reflected the team’s training. “I know we’ve done the work and training and we practice for these opportunities. You have to have the confidence in these moments.” The match was even through out with Australia leading by just a goal, 4-1, at half time, and taking a two goal lead for the first time in the fourth quarter, but China drawing level almost straight away. It seemed the match was going to a penalty shoot out till Baxter struck with just 1.3 seconds on the clock.
Australia’s Morgan Baxter said:
“We’re feeling confident. It will be tough to come up against the USA. We beat them earlier but they are world champions and we won’t be taking them lightly. But we’re confident and ready to go.”
And Zoe Arancini, Australia captain commented:
“It wasn’t our best game but we slugged it out and it’s great to see Morgan backing herself at the end there.”
After the match, we also talked to Keesja Gofers, the best scorer in the game:
“It was a really tough match, going goal for goal for almost the entire game. Both teams did really well. All the fans were saying how they were on the edge of their seats the entire game, especially with the last-second goal to win the game. We’re very excited to play the grand final versus the USA.”
Quarters: 4-3, 6-4, 3-1, 3-3
The USA came out of the blocks hard and fast with three quick goals before Canada got into the match, slowed their southern neighbors down and got on the scorecard. Monika Eggens was there of course, her 20th goal keeping her top of the sharp shooters’ list for the tournament. It was her pass, not her shot, that gave Canada their third goal when Krystina Alogbo scored with a lovely tip in, the USA ahead 4-3 after the first quarter.
There was some classy shooting in the second quarter with the USA’s Rachel Fattal outstanding as she scored three goals while Eggens predictably collected another one. The USA went into halftime leading 10-7 and their cross cage passing was a key again in the third quarter with Fattal adding a fourth goal as they stretched their lead to 13-8. Canada scored through Joelle Bekhazi, her second for the night and both were absolute scorchers. Canada had a run of three goals in the final quarter but were matched by the USA who won 16-11. Canada’s head coach David Paradelo was ejected in the fourth quarter so will miss his side’s bronze medal game against China.
USA coach Adam Krikorian on restricting Canada’s Monika Eggens to three goals:
“Three! We should never give up three goals to anyone and there were six too many on the scoreboard. I was happy though with our defense in the third quarter. We did a really nice job on attack too. We executed out game plan and took advantage of opportunities. It was simple, fundamental water polo which is good.”