Gold is going to Spain! The curtain at the 4th FINA World Women’s Youth Water Polo Championships in Belgrade, capital of Serbia, is down, after Sunday’s finals and the gold-medal match between two European teams, Spain and Italy.
The new world Women’s Youth champions are the Spanish players who managed in the final a one-goal advantage over very strong Italy. The Spanish team deserved the trophy as they were the only team in the World Championships that hasn’t lost a single match. In addition, they also had the best player in the tournament, Alejandra Aznar. Italy had its biggest moment when it won the quarter-finals against the US team, who came to Belgrade as a candidate for a medal and left in the seventh position.
The Greek national team won the bronze medal, thus confirming the good shape of the sport in the country. Two weeks ago, the Greek men’s team (U-18) won gold at the FINA World Junior Championships in the Hungarian city of Szombathely, while in Belarus, also this Sunday, the Men’s European Championship (U-19) also crowned the Hellenic squad.
Individual Awards at the 4th FINA Women’s Youth Water Polo Championships Belgrade 2018:
Best Scorer: Maria Myriokefalitaki (Greece) – 29 goals
Best Goalkeeper: Caterina Banchelli (Italy)
MVP Tournament: Alejandra Aznar (Spain)
Quarters: 2:2, 2:4, 1:2, 1:2
A deserved triumph for the US team. Thea Walsh was excellent in front of the North American goal, as well as Valeria Ayala and Abrielle Hill in front of the Russian goal. The match was balanced in the first 11-12 minutes (4:4), but then the USA scored four goals in a row and the seventh place was secured.
Quarters: 2:2, 3:1, 1:5, 2:3
Hungarians were far better in the first two quarters. From the third period on, a completely different match unfolded. The Netherlands scored five goals, so after a 3:5, the result evolved into an 8:5 for the Dutch team in few minutes. Their excellent attack proved efficient and the absence of mistakes was decisive for getting the fifth place.
Quarters: 1:1, 2:1, 3:0, 1:1
On the same day the Greek male water polo team (U-19), in Belarus, won the gold medal at the European Championships, the Greek women’s junior team won the world bronze. A completely deserved victory in the match against Australia, in which the defense was decisive for the final outcome.
The Greek goalkeeper Emmanouela Archontaki was fantastic one more time. The first quarter was quite balanced, but the Greek team had some problems with the man-up situation (0-4). The only goals in that period of the game were scored by Greece on the penalty and by man-up for Australia. Defense still dominated in the second quarter with a minimal lead of Greece at the end of second period (3:2). The decision concerning the winner came in the third quarter when Greece scored three goals and took a 6:2 lead before the last eight minutes, which proved crucial.
Quarters: 1:2, 3:2, 2:1, 2:2
Spain is the new world champion! Wonderful final match and exciting time concerning the decision of the world crown. The match displayed quality, tension, and toughness from the first to the last minute. Favorite team in Spain was never scared by Italy. In the first quarter, the Italians were even better, presenting a more efficient game. The initial goal was scored by penalty shot, while Aznar immediately equalized for Spain. Riccioli, at 1.16 minutes to go before the end of the first period gave Italy a tangential advantage (2:1).
Spain was much better in the second period of the game when Diaz, Arino, and Aznar turned the result into a 4:2 lead for Spain. Italy responded with two goals of excellent Riccioli, so the result after the first 16 minutes was balanced – 4:4.
The first action in the third quarter belonged to Italian team and was concluded by a fantastic goal of Dafne Bettini (5:4 for Italy), but on the other side, a beautiful move by Ruth Arino, who scored at 3.25 to go, equalized at 5:5. The best player of the final match, and also MVP of the tournament, Alejandra Aznar scored from the penalty at 1.50 to go (6:5 for Spain before the decisive quarter).
In the second minute of the last quarter, Mireia Guiral scored in a man-up situation for Spain (7:5). Exactly five minutes to the end, Claudia Cergol gave some hope for Italy, scoring a goal (7:6). Two minutes later, Aznar scored again (8:6), but Italy successfully replied with 49 seconds to go (Francesca Colletta, 8:7). The last attack was on the Italian side, but Megiatto did not succeed.