After a jam-packed 18 game regular season for the women’s teams in Italy, the all important Scudetto Play-offs are fast approaching. At the change of this month, six teams are still in with a shout to secure the A1 title, while four teams still will battle it out for top-tier status in Italian water polo.
Plebiscito Padova and Ekipe Orizzonte both finished on 48 points in the regular season, finishing 1st and 2nd respectively, meaning both automatically progress to the Semi-Finals of the Scudetto Play-offs. Both are a good bet to make the Play-off Finals with very little to separate the two sides over the course of the season.
SIS Roma finished only two points of the leading two, but in third place, they will need to play an additional quarter-final tie (over two legs) if they are to to become Italian champions. The same applies for Vetrocar CSS Verona, who ended the regular season down in 4th. Roma will face Bogliasco, while CSS Verona will meet RN Florentina.
At the foot of the table, the four teams will battle it out in the ‘Play-outs’ to stay in the division. Trieste will play bottom of the table Vela Acona, while Como will play NC Milano.
It has been a fascinating season in Italy with the women’s game in the country gaining a massive boost. Firstly, Plebiscito Padova secured a historic bronze medal in the Euro League – while all four of the Italian teams were impressive in the early rounds of the competition.
The season itself has been very competitive. The top two teams, Plebiscito Padova and Ekipe Orizzonte both finished on the same number of points, while SIS Roma finished just two points behind them in third – highlighting how competitive the league is at present.
Any of the teams in the Play-offs are capable of beating each other. Some big results this season include; Roma beating Ekipe 13-9 in October, Vetrocar Verona drew 9-9 with Roma in November, Plebiscito lost to Roma 7-6 in February, while Ekipe and Plebiscito have beaten each other once this season (11-9 to Plebiscito in November and 9-8 to Ekipe in mid-April). It is rare that there are 3/4 teams that are so evenly matched at the top end of the table – a phenomenon only visible in Europe’s top leagues.
The quality of players in the Italian league is also of the highest order. The top goal scorer of the league is Silvia Avegno of SIS Roma with a staggering 60 goals. Roberta Biaconi, who has over 340 caps for the Italian national team, of CSS Verona, is not far behind on 56 goals.
Valeria Palmieri, Claudia Marletta and the Aussie Stinger, Bronte Halligan, all lead the way for Ekipe in their strong team, while Plebiscito’s stars of the Euro League Bronze include: Laura Teani in goal, Laura Barzon on the top with Mariia Borisova at centre. Sara Dario and Elle Armit are all also excellent players that complement Stefano Posterivo’s squad.
There is also a wealth of young talent including Dafne Bettini (Ekipe), Lucrezia Cergol (Trieste) and Sofia Giustini (SIS Roma) – who all have only a handful of full-international caps, but will definitely be the future of Italian water polo.
There is no doubt that the top two teams from the first phase of the season will be the favorites for the title, but in Play-off games, anything is possible. SIS Roma will know that very well, given they beat Plebiscito in the final of the Italian Cup last month.
Italian A1 Play-Off Quarter-Finals
(1st leg on 28 April, 2nd leg on 1st May)
Bogliasco 1951 vs SIS Roma
RN Florentia vs Vetrocar CSS Verona
Italian A1 Play-Off Semi-Finals
(1st leg on 4th May, 2nd leg on 7th May, 3rd leg on 10th May)
Plebiscito Padova vs RN Florentia OR Vetrocar CSS Verona
Ekipe Orizzonte vs Bogliasco 1951 OR SIS Roma
Italian A1 Play-Out Finals
(1st leg on 30th April, 2nd leg on 7th May, 3rd leg on 14th May)
Pallanuoto Trieste vs Vela Nuoro Acona
Como Nouto Recoaro vs NC Milano