The big story on the last day of the group-stage fixtures was that Hungary squandered a guilt-edge chance to finish top of Group A after suffering a narrow defeat to China. There is no doubt this is a huge shock, given China are not even ranked in the world’s top ten sides, whilst Hungary beat the World Champions, the USA, earlier this week. Hungary will now face the third-placed side in Group B, the Netherlands, even though the Dutch ran out winners against Canada.
The win for China does not alter their place in the group, and they will have a tough date with Spain in the first quarter final.
On the other side of the bracket, ROC’s victory against the hosts, Japan, was inconsequential to where they finished in group B. As they placed third, they will meet Australia in their quarter-final after the Aussies defeated South Africa in the day’s last fixture.
Either ROC or Australia will battle against the winner of the North American derby between Canada or the USA.
Netherlands 16-12 Canada (4-4, 4-3, 3-2,5-2) – LIVESCORE
Netherlands: J. Koenders, M. Megens 2, S. Van der Sloot 1, I. Wolves, N. Stomphorst 1, K-L. Joustra 1, V. Sevenich 1, M. Keuning 1, I. Koolhaas 2, S. Van de Kraats 6, B. Sleeking 1, D. Willemsz. Head Coach: A. Havenga
Canada: C. Wright, J. Bekhazi 1, A. Crevier 1, E. Wright, M. Eggens, K. McKee 1, G. Sohi 1, E. Lemay-Lavoie, H. McKelvey 2, K. Christmas 4, P. Kindred, S. La Roche 1, Head Coach: D. Paradelo
Extra Player Shots: Netherlands 6/9, Canada 3/7. Penalty Shots: Netherlands 2/2, Canada 0/0.
The Netherlands will finish third in Group A despite a solid victory over Canada. The second game of the day was an enthralling encounter as the world was treated to an exhibition of outstanding left-handed shooting with Simone Van der Kraats netting six times for the Netherlands and Kyra Christmas scoring four for Canada.
Both teams had already qualified for the quarter-finals, but the 2008 gold medalists, the Netherlands, were clinical in front of goal which ultimately secured the two points. Canada may come to regret losing today, as they will now face their local rivals, the USA, in the quarter-finals.
Fans were treated to a really lively start when both teams got themselves on the scoreboard within forty seconds – firstly for Kyra Christmas of Canada, and then Brigitte Sleeking for the Netherlands. The match was being played at such a high intensity, that we saw a deadlock in which three minutes then passed until the goal frenzy resumed. Maud Megens scored from Monika Eggens giving away a 5m penalty before Simone Van der Kraats scored one of two extra-player goals from the right to put the Netherlands two ahead. Kyra Christmas then pulled one back, before Shae La Roche’s bouncing shot made it 4-4 just before the end of the first quarter.
Simone Van der Kraats then scored her second of the game into the second period with her country’s second penalty of the game, but Elyse Lemay-Lavoie’s quick and well-placed backshot in the pit levelled the scores at 6-6.
Ilse Koolhaas converted on the post with an instinctive flick on past Claire Wright in the Canadian goal. But again, Canada’s left-hander, Christmas, got her side back on level terms with a first half-hat trick. Shae La Roche appeared to block a shot off the line to stop the Netherlands from taking the lead again, but Kitty Loustra was on hand with a poacher’s finish to put the Dutch ahead by 7-6.
Debbie Willemsz in the Dutch goal was then completely wrong-footed when Kelley McKee’s central shot from 6m took a huge deflection and levelled the game up. However, the Dutch took the initiative going into the third quarter courtesy of yet another goal for Van der Kraats.
Into the third period, the Netherlands found a three-goal buffer. Megens scored her second from a narrow-angle before Koolhaas’s shot beat Claire Wright too easily. Axelle Crevier then converted a cheeky lob to reduce the deficit, but the youngest player in the pool, Van der Kraats, netted her fourth of the game to restore the three-goal lead.
As the Netherlands were netting through their lethal left-hander, Canada turned to their own leftie, Kyra Christmas, for inspiration. She made it 11-9 on Maartje Keunning’s exclusion. There was then a period of play, like in the first quarter, where neither side could convert. It stayed that way until the end of the quarter, where the difference between the teams was only two goals.
Hayley McKelvey then further reduced the Netherlands’ lead with a rifled bounce shot from distance past Dutch substitute goalkeeper, Joanne Koenders. However, Sabrina Van der Sloot grabbed her first goal of the game for the Netherlands to restore the two-goal lead.
Canada looked on the ropes, and the Netherlands had two breakaway attacks in which they should have scored, but some last-ditch defending from the Maples kept them in the game. However, the pressure told as Van der Kraats scored her fifth from the perimeter to make it 13-10.
David Paradelo’s side needed three goals in as many minutes, however, the team were struggling to stay composed. The game was getting away from them as Nomi Stomphorst drilled one home to put the game beyond doubt. Hayley McKelvey launched one against the bar before it bounced into Joanne Koenders’ net, and then Joelle Berkhazi converted a well-drilled man-up, but they were merely consolation goals for the North Americans.
Canada will be disappointed with finishing fourth, however, they have qualified for the quarter-finals from a very difficult group. The Netherlands will face Hungary in the other quarter-final.
Australia 14-1 South Africa (1-0, 6-1, 4-0, 3-0) – LIVESCORE
Australia: A. Andrews, H. Buckling 1, E. Armit 1, K. Gofers 2, B. Knox, R. Webster 1, B. Halligan 2, Z. Arancini 2, M. Kearns, L. Mihailovic 2, A. Ridge 2, G. Palm. Head Coach: P. Mihailovic
South Africa: H. Calvert, Y. Gerber, G. Moir, B. Motau, M. Sileno, A. Hallendorff, S. January, A. Vaughn 1, J. Wedderburn, C. Meecham, H. Miller, N. Macleod, M. Maartens. Head Coach: D. Mentoor
Extra Player Shots: Australia 4/8, South Africa1/3. Penalty Shots: Australia 0/2, South Africa 0/0.
Australia comfortably beat South Africa in the final group game fixture of the tournament, although it was a much more competitive match than many predicted. A fantastic first-quarter defensive display from South Africa saw only one goal go past Meghan Maartens – who had the game of her life, saving two penalties.
Australia finishes second in group A, and will face the ROC in the third quarter-final, while South Africa will return home having had a great experience of what Olympic water polo is like.
The first six minutes of the game emulated a swimming gala, however, South Africa will be content that the only goal of the game for Australia came from Zoe Arancini’s cross-cage shot. South Africa’s goalkeeper, Meghan Maartens, orchestrated a tight defence and made two big saves.
Australia woke up in the second period and started to go through the motions. Zoe Arancini took less time to grab Australias second, as her low bouncing shot evaded the outstretched grasp of Maartens. Amy Ridge scored two more, however, South Africa pulled off an outstanding man-up that was converted on the post by Ashleigh Vaughn. Credit must go to Delaine Mentoor, South Africa’s trailblazing coach, for calling the timeout and coordinating the set-play.
Meghan Maartens then made an unbelievable save from Lena Mihailovic’s penalty, however, the daughter of coach Predrag Mihailovic, eventually scored Australia’s fifth. The half ended with the score at 7-1, with goals right on the buzzer from Rowie Webster and Bronte Halligan.
Elle Armit and Keesja Gofers grabbed one each at the midway point in the third quarter as Australia started to put daylight between the two teams before Lena Mihailovic added her second of the game to put the score at 10-1. Halligan scored right on the buzzer to secure the Aussie Stingers their eleventh.
Australia modestly added further scores. Abby Andrews inevitably grabbed a goal on a man-up, before Hannah Buckling made up for her missed penalty with a good breakaway finish. Gofers netted a second to wrap the game up.
Australia have played some great water polo and will be confident going into a quarter-final against the ROC.
Hungary 9-11China (1-4, 1-3, 4-2, 3-2) – LIVESCORE
Hungary: D. Szilagyi, G. Szucs 1, G. Gurisatti 4, V. Valyi, R. Parkes, A. Illes 2, R. Keszthelyi 1, D. Leimeter 1, A. Gyongyossy, N. Rybanska, K. Garda, A. Magyari. Head Coach: Attila Biro
China: L. Peng, X. Wang 1, X. Mei, D. Xiong 2, G. Niu 1, Y. Zhai 1, Y. Lu, H. Wang, Z. Deng 2, D. Zhang, X. Chen 2, J. Zhang 2. Head Coach: Petar Porobic
Extra Player Shots: Hungary 5/12, China5/12 . Penalty Shots: Hungary 1/1, China 1/1.
China have recorded one of the most historic victories in the history of women’s water polo as they secured a hard-earned victory against Hungary. Hungary squandered their all-important chance to finish top of Group B and will face the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. Had Hungary won, they would have faced Canada, but instead, the USA will take on the Maples.
It was not a cynical performance from Hungary in an attempt to avoid Canada, as the Netherlands are probably the tougher of the two sides to face especially given the fact the Netherlands beat Canada today. The past week has summed up perfectly this Hungarian side; as when they are at their best, they genuinely can beat anyone, but when they do not turn up, they are distinctly average.
However, credit must go to this group of Chinese players and their coach Petar Porobic. China are definitely not at the games to make up the numbers. As today’s result shows, they are no push-overs, and they were unlucky to lose to ROC on matchday one by a single goal.
China started the game excellently scoring the first three goals. Jing Zhang’s bouncing effort besting Alda Magyari, before Xinyan Wang made it two on the post from an extra-player situation. Zewen Deng then made it 3-0 with a shot that curled around the block of Dora Leimeter. Hungary finally got their first goal through Anna Illes, but Guannan Niu put China three clear with five seconds to go in the quarter when her bounce shot beat Magyari far too easily.
Gabriella Szucs scored with Hungary’s first attack of the second quarter, however, China scored three back-to-back goals from Zhang, Zhai and Xiong to give China an unbelievable 7-2 lead at half-time.
Into the third quarter, Xiong then grabbed her second of the game on the post from Aniko Gyongossy’s exclusion to make it 8-2. Hungary needed something quick if they were to get that all-important win, and before long, they looked like seriously making a comeback. Anna Illes and Greta Gurisatti both converted extra-player situations before Rita Keszthelyi made it 8-5 from near range. With three goals in a row, it China looked nervy, however, a tidy close-range shot that was guided past Magyari from Xiao Chen put China four goals ahead.
A goal from Gurisatti at the end of the third quarter put Hungary within three, and it felt for all the world that Hungary would complete a comeback in the last quarter. However, Hungary were completely toothless in the fourth period and didn’t really have that many chances to score due to an excellent defensive shift from China.
Hungary did then eventually score through another goal from Greta Gurisatti that nestled in the top left-hand corner of the net, however, it would take them until the last minute before they got another through Gurisatti from a 5m penalty to make the score 9-8.
China, however, who had been feeling the pressure from wave after wave of Hungarian attacks, had the composure to win it with a penalty forty seconds from time. Dorottya Szilagyi was the guilty party who Zewen Deng the chance to score from a 5m penalty.
As if to make matters worse for Szilagyi, she was then excluded two seconds from time which allowed Xiao Chen to grab her second of the game to give China a two-goal victory.
China will need to pull off an even bigger shock if they are wishing to progress past the quarter-final stage, as they will take on the impressive-looking Spain, who topped Group A.
ROC 20 – 16 Japan (5-5, 7-3, 6-4, 2-4) – LIVESCORE
ROC: M. Bersneva 3, E. Prokofyeva 1, E. Karimova 1, N. Glyzina 2, V. Vakhitova, A. Serzhantova 4, A. Simanovich 2, A. Timofeeva, E. Soboleva 1, E. Ivanova 3, A. Fedotova 3, A. Karnuakh. Head Coach: Alexandr Gaidukov
Japan: R. Miura, Y. Arima 5, A. Inaba 3, E. Ura 2, K. Iwano 2, M. Koide, M. Hashida, Y. Niizawa, K. Kawaguchi 3, M. Tokumoto, K. Kudo 1, M. Shioya
Head Coach: Makhiro Motomiya
Extra Player Shots: ROC 5/6, Japan 8/19. Penalty Shots: ROC 0/0, Japan 1/3.
Russia had to hold on in the last quarter to ensure they defeated Japan in a high-scoring and incredibly entertaining game. The Russians looked set to cruise to victory having led by several goals much of the game. However, ill-discipline in the fourth period from the ROC provoked a Japanese onslaught in which they scored four unanswered goals.
The game was free-flowing and free-scoring, as a goal looked probable every time either side attacked. Japan will perhaps regret their two missed penalties in the second half, but ROC had just enough quality to survive a bit of a scare.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that ROC received 21 personal fouls, compared to Japans’ 5. No team is ever this clean, especially in a relatively close game.
A word on Japan, though, as they really gave an excellent account of themselves at every juncture this week. They have competed far better than most would have predicted at their home games, despite losing every game. Some of the Japanese players were in tears at the end of the match, but Japan can be proud that they competed in large parts of this competition.
The ROC finish third in Group B, and they will have their work cut out if they are to beat Australia.
The way the ROC started, it looked like they were going to run and hide against Japan. Anastasia Simanovich netted only sixteen seconds into the match with a composed backshot from centre-forward. Nadezhda Glyzina, who has been slightly disappointing at these games so far, then doubled the ROC’s lead when she finished off a swift counterattack. Anastasia Fedotova made it three with a shot straight through the hands of Japanese keeper, Rikako Miura.
But Japan weathered the early Russian storm and took the lead. Japan’s first goal of the game came via a cool and calm finish from Eruna Ura on the breakaway, before Kaho Iwano scored a one-on-one from an extra-player shot. Yumi Arima, Japan’s top goalscorer, then stepped up to convert a 5m penalty from Ekaterina Prokofyeva’s illegal foul, before Japan had the lead for the first time via an Akari Inaba effort.
With further goals from Serzhantova and Karimova for ROC, and another from Inaba, the score was level at 5-5 after the first quarter.
In spite of Japan’s slow start, they were now playing with a little more confidence. But they could not stop an extra-player conversion from Serzhantova, even after Iwano’s second of the game.
ROC then suddenly turned a switch in the second quarter and started punishing Japan on the counterattack. They went ahead with a nonchalant finish from Simanovich in the pit, before Maria Bersneva couldn’t miss when faced with an empty net at close range. Bersneva then scored her second goal of the match not long after on the counter-attack.
Japan stayed in the game by making it 10-7 via Eruna Ura, but Glyzina’s beautiful dinked lob to the back post was delicate enough to give the Russian’s their eleventh goal, before Serzhantova secured a first-half hat-trick. Arima scored a lovely lob with a second left in the half to conclude an entertaining first half.
Bersneva then joined Serzhantova in grabbing her third goal in the second half as it soon became a matter of how many Russia would get, rather than whether they’d win at all.
Goals later in the quarter from Soboleva, Prokofyeva, Serzhantova and two from Fedotova were enough to mitigate four goals from Kako Kawaguchi, Akari Inaba and two from Yumi Arima for Japan. At the end of the quarter, the score was 18-12.
It’s fair to say that Japan had the ROC very nervous in the last quarter. Two goals on the right-hand side from Kako Kawaguchi, as well as pinpoint goals from Arima and Kudo, kept the ROC within one goal.