It was a day of last-minute winners, historic victories and big rivalries as the first day at Women’s World Cup in Rotterdam.
China were inches away from a point, but for an incredibly late goal from the player of the match, Silvia Avegno, gave Italy three points. Avegno netted six in the game, and had she not played, China almost certainly would have won the match.
Avegno wasn’t the only Mataro player to net six goals on the opening day. The game between Greece and Hungary became the Rita Keszthelyi show, with the Hungarian single handedly flipping the game with them and Greece.
In the end, the Dutch looked comfortable in their opener against Australia, winning 11-4. In truth, both teams were quite sloppy, and both will hope to improve against sterner opponents tomorrow.
In terms of the action, the first was certainly not the worst, with Spain taking a first competitive win in a decade against the United States. It was a close shave though, with a single penalty-shoot-out miss from Two-time Total Award Winner Maddie Musselman the difference between the two teams. You can read about that game in this special report.
Women’s World Cup Division 1 Rotterdam, Day 1
Italy 14 – 13 China (2-4, 3-2, 5-3, 4-4)
Italy: A. Condorelli, C. Tabani, V. Gant, S. Avegno 6, A. Cocchiere, D. Bettini 1, D. Picozzi 2, L. Di Claudio, V. Palmieri, C. Marletta 4, L. Cergol, G. Viacava 1, C. Banchelli
China: W. Dong, X. Wang 1, J. Yan, D. Xiong 1, Y. Zhai, S. Wang, Z. Deng 3, H. Wang, S. Yan 1, S. Nong, 3 Q. Zhong, J. Zhang 4, X. Du
In the second game in Group A, China suffered a heart-breaking final-second loss against Italy (14-13).
In a tightly contested duel, it was the outstanding performance of Silvia Avegno that proved to be the difference between the two sides, in a game that both could have easily won. The Chinese team started the game strongly and held the lead for the majority of the match, but were ultimately unable to hold off a determined Italian side. The Setterosa were shell shocked in the first, perhaps surprised by the intensity shown by the Chinese. Both teams found spectacular goals, but the eventual quality of the Italians shone through.
China began the match with a flurry of attacks and quickly capitalised on their dominance, with Zewen Deng and Jing Zhang (penalty) both finding the back of the net to put the Asian champions two goals ahead. Although Italy’s Picozzi managed to score, Zhang added her second to restore China’s two-goal lead. Claudia Marletta of Ekipe Orizzonte did manage to score a nice finish from the top, but Zhang completed her first quarter hat-trick with her second penalty, giving China a well-deserved 4-2 lead heading into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, Italy struggled to break through China’s strong defense and was left frustrated. However, the momentum of the game shifted as Italy began to grow in confidence, scoring three consecutive goals, with Silvia Avegno of CN Mataro striking on the breakaway, followed by Picozzi and Marletta both adding their second goals from range. Despite Italy’s comeback, China managed to hold on to their lead and went into halftime with a single goal advantage, thanks to Sanfeng Nong’s shot that crossed the line past Caterina Banchelli after VAR confirmation (6-5).
In the third quarter, China found the first goal, but their two-goal lead was short-lived, as Silvia Avegno struck twice, pulling Italy back on level terms (7-7). China managed to grab the next goal, but after sustained pressure, Italy found themselves firstly level, and then ahead for the first time, with Dafne Bettini scoring off her arm, and then with Avegno’s fourth of the game. Although Jing Zhang of China found her fourth goal, Avegno once again proved her worth with a superb shot from the top, 12 seconds from the end of the third (10-9).
The fourth quarter was a back and forth exchange, with Italy trying to build their buffer, but China not allowing them to pull away. Both teams found crucial scores when needed, with Marletta’s fourth goal from the penalty-spot putting Italy back ahead by two, but China found the next two scores to pull level. The Italians suddenly found themselves needing to defend, with both teams calling timeouts in the last minute. However, it was Italy who made theirs work, drawing an exclusion and converting the man-up via Silvia Avegno’s sixth goal in the game with just six seconds left to play, securing a hard-fought victory over a valiant China side.
Greece 12 – 14 Hungary (4-2, 4-3, 2-6, 2-3)
Greece: C. Diamantopoulou, E. Fountotou, E. Elliniadi, N. Eleftheriadou 4, M. Plevritou, E. Xenaki 3, E. Ninou 1, F. Tricha 1, C. Siouti, V. Plevritou 1, A. Giannopoulou 2, M. Myriokefalitaki, I. Stamatopoulou
Hungary: A. Magyari, D. Szilagyi, V. Valyi, G. Gurisatti 2, G, Mahieu, R. Parkes 2, Z. Mate 1, R. Keszthelyi, 6 P. Szegedi 1, P.Pocze, V. Baksa 1, K. Garda 1, B. Neszmely
Hungary did well to come from behind to defeat Greece 14-12 in the last game of the day.
So often sport is about so much more than a single player, but today, for Hungary, Rita Keszthelyi’s six goals – four of which were in the third period – were pivotal.
For the majority of the game Greece looked strong, but couldn’t find a way to stop the goals flying in.
Hungary got off to a blistering start, scoring within the first 15 seconds of the game courtesy of Greta Gurisatti, who was essentially given a free shot on the penalty-line by the Greek defence. However, Ioanna Stamatopoulou managed to deny Gurisatti a second goal by tipping her penalty-shot past the post.
Greece quickly regrouped and found their footing through Eleni Xenaki, who cleverly chipped the ball over the head of Hungarian goalkeeper, Magyari. Xenaki then showcased her versatility by scoring from the right-wing.
Greece were awarded a penalty soon after, thanks to the hard work of Maria Myriokefalitaki, which was converted with ease by Vasiliki Plevritou, putting Greece ahead for the first time in the match (3-1). Hungary managed to pull one back through Rita Keszthelyi, but The Greeks responded immediately through a tidy finish from Vouliagmeni’s Athina Giannopoulou (4-2).
Gurisatti opened the scoring in the second quarter, but Greece maintained their two goal lead after Alda Magyari couldn’t get a strong enough grasp on the shot from Foteini Tricha.
The goals began to flow; two stunningly precise shots Greece (Ninou and Eleftheriadou) and two close-range scores for Hungary (Parkes and Szegedi). Another penalty for Greece, Nikoleta Eleftheriadou, handed them a three-score lead heading into the second half (8-5).
At the change of ends, Hungary were by no means out of the game, and as Greece found out, how so quick a three goal deficit can vanish – especially when an attacker of the quality of Rita Keszthelyi is on the opposing team. Three sublime shots from range suddenly stunned the Greeks, and dislodged them from their lead (8-8).
Greek sought sanctuary, and Athina Giannopoulou bagged a important score from the right wing, but soon it became the Rita Keszthelyi show. for the fourth, and then the fifth time in the quarter, Rita Keszthelyi let a rocket fly that gave Ioanna Giannopoulou no chance in the Blue and White goal to give the Hungarians the lead for the first time in 22 minutes. Both teams continued to exchange scores, with Eleftheriadou and Baksa contributing to the tally. However, it was the Magyars who managed to maintain their advantage, taking the lead into the final quarter (10-11).
Hungary had clearly worked on getting the ball into Rebecca Parkes on the post, because within the first attack of the game, she found the back of the net to give Attila Biro’s team the lead for the fist time (12-10).
Greece now looked in trouble, and they desperately needed the quickly-taken man-up goal that Eleni Xenaki provided. But Hungary were in the mood, and Krisztina Garda’s rocket shot on the power play restored Hungary’s breathing space, before Zsuszanna Mate powered the ball past Greece’s sub keeper to give the Magyars a real sense of comfort. That sequence proved fatal for the Greeks, who couldn’t recover.
Australia 7 – 11 Netherlands (2-1, 2-4, 2-2, 1-4)
Australia: G. Palm, P. Casey, T. Fasala, B. Halligan, B. Leeson-Smith, A. Andrews 1, C. Andrews 2, A. Ridge, Z. Arancini, A. Williams 2, S. Pontre 1, E. Armit 1, G. Longman,
Netherlands: L. Aarts, I. Wolves 2, B. Sleeking 3, S. Van der Sloot, M. Keuning 1, S. Van der Sloot, B. Rogge 1, V. Sevenich 1, K. Joustra, R. Voorvelt, L. Moolhuijzen 2, N. Ten Broek, B. Van den Dobbelsteen.
The Netherlands kicked off their World Cup campaign with a well-deserved 11-7 victory over Australia, thanks to a dominant last quarter that sealed the deal in an evenly contested game. Despite both teams being far from their best, the Dutch were spurred on by their home crowd and emerged victorious in the tournament opener between two heavyweight women’s water polo nations.
Brigitte Sleeking was the standout performer of the match, scoring three goals to emerge as the game’s top striker. Iris Wolves was also impressive at center, netting two goals, while 18-year-old Lola Moolhuijzen bagged a brace.
The Stingers failed to do enough to secure maximum points, but they can take heart from the fact that the four-goal margin of defeat flattered the Dutch. Charlize Andrews and Alice Williams both showed their class with excellent performances, no doubt boosted by their time in Europe this past season. However, the Aussies were too vulnerable to conceding exclusions and failed to create enough quality chances. In a crucial moment of the match, Bronte Halligan saw her penalty saved by Dutch goalkeeper Laura Aarts.
The game had a somewhat subdued start, with neither side able to shift out of first gear. However, the Aussie Stingers deserved their first-quarter lead on balance. Debutante Sofia Pontre made her mark by finding the opening score with a well-executed bounce shot past Aarts. Vivian Sevenich eventually gave the home crowd something to cheer about with a quintessential backshot. But it was Charlize Andrews who separated the two teams at halftime with a rocket of a shot that gave the Stingers a 2-1 lead.
The game became more free-flowing in the second quarter, with both teams adding to their tallies. The Dutch began to show their threat, particularly at center, as Iris Wolves scored twice to level the score at 4-4. Both teams added scores from their center-backs, with Alice Williams (AUS) and Bente Rogge (NED) finding the back of the net. However, a perfectly executed looped lob by Maartje Keuning in the last minute gave the Dutch the lead for the first time in the game.
The Dutch went into the second half with a two-goal advantage thanks to a cute finish from Brigitte Sleeking. But Charlize Andrews’ fantastic solo effort on the breakaway cut the deficit back to a single score. Van de Kraats extended the Dutch lead from a 5m penalty, but Australia rallied and were back within one thanks to a brilliantly improvised strike at center from Alice Williams. The Stingers then had a golden opportunity to level the score, but Laura Aarts made a brilliant save with her head from Bronte Halligan’s penalty to keep the slender Dutch advantage heading into the final quarter (7-6).
Two minutes into the last quarter, the Dutch were back ahead by two after Amy Ridge was dismissed on three exclusions, the third of which was a penalty that Lola Moolhuijzen subsequently converted. The game then heavily favored the Dutch, with Bente Rogge’s steep lob putting the Orange up 9-6. Abby Andrews scored another for the Aussies, but Brigitte Sleeking’s powerful close-range shot took the Dutch to double digits and nearly sealed the game (10-7). Moolhuijzen’s late penalty, her second of the quarter, wrapped up the victory for Eva Doudesis’ team.
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