Radnicki Kragujevac won its first title in the Regional League.
Today, the Serbs defeated Jug Dubrovnik in a high-scoring final in Zagreb – 14:12.
Radnicki defeated two Croatian giants in two days. On Saturday, Radnicki defeated the 2019 and 2020 RL champion Mladost after a penalty shootout and became the first-ever Serbian club that reached the final of the Regional League. Today, they earned a deserved win over Croatian champion Jug, which won the Regional League four times. This was Radnicki’s second appearance at the Final Four. Six years ago, the Kragujevac-based team won 3rd place.
The outgoing champion Mladost Zagreb finished in 4th place. Jadran Split defeated Mladost in the bronze-medal match (11:8)
2021 Regional League Final Four, Zagreb
Radnicki – Jug 14:12 (4:4, 4:3, 3:3, 3:2)
KVK Radnicki: Radulovic 4, Jankovic 3, Rasovic 2, Toholj 1, Ukropina 1, Brankovic 1, Milicic 1, Lukic 1 (Dobozanov 11 saves)
Jug AO: Fatovic 3, Benic 3, Loncar 2, Merkulov 2, Papanastasiou 1, Zuvela 1 (Popadic 4 saves, Vukojevic -)
Extra player shots: Radnicki 4/8, Jug 6/14. Penalty shots: Jug 2/2.
For full statistics and play-by-play action visit: Radnicki – Jug, Total Waterpolo Arena
The first half of the match offered a lot of goals and turns. The difference was never larger than a goal. Radnicki led 1:0, 2:1, 3:2. Late into the first quarter, Jug went ahead for the first time (4:3), but Jankovic leveled 29 seconds before the first break.
The festival of goals continued in the second period. Jug had more chances to score than Radnicki, but the Serbs’ defense, commanded by a goalkeeper Lazar Dobozanov, worked well. Dobozanov, who posted 11 saves in the final, was named the MVP of the game.
Early in the second period, Jug earned a new lead, after Fatovic sent the ball home from the 5m line for 5:4. But Radnicki retook the lead shortly after (6:5). Marko Radulovic closed the first half with a goal for 8:7.
After the middle break, Jug coach Vjeko Kobescak changed goalkeepers. An experienced Toni Popadic, who posted just one save in the first half, was replaced by Antonio Vukojevic.
Loren Fatovic opened the third quarter in the same way as the second quarter – with a goal from a penalty shot for 8:8, but, Jankovic responded in the next possession to put Radnicki in front. Merkulov equalized shortly after. After that, the defenses dominated, there were no goals for a while. Stefan Brankovic converted a man-up two minutes and six seconds before the last break for 10:9. A minute and a half later, Radulovic scored from an extra, and for the first time the distance between the sides was two goals. Radnicki led 11:9, but not for long. Hrvoje Benic halved the difference 11 seconds before the end of the third period.
Before the fourth quarter, Popadic returned between the posts. Loncar found the net in the 26th minute, so the sides were tied for the 10th time – 11:11.
The exchange of goals continued in the next few minutes, and in the middle of the quarter, Milicic gave Radnicki a 13:12 lead. In Jug’s next possession, Hrvoje Benic, who played very well today, missed a great chance to level the score from the center-forward position. That maybe was a turning point. In the next possession, Strahinja Rasovic scored from an extra to double Radnicki’s advantage (14:12) with 02:18 minutes to go.
A minute and 51 seconds from the end, Rasovic interrupted Jug’s attack, he stole the ball, and the Serbs were very close to the victory. However, they also lost the ball in their next possession. Jug had a chance with a man-up in the last minute, but the attack finished with no shot, Rasovic stole the ball again, and that was the end of the contest
Match for 3rd place
Mladost – Jadran S 8:11 (2:3,3:3,1:2,2:3)
HAVK Mladost: Radu 3,Bukic 2, Buslje 2, Milos 1(Marcelic 7 saves).
Jadran Split: Butic 2, Duzevic 2, Zovic 2, Buric 1, Marinic Kragic 1,Milradovic 1, Delic 1 (Podrug 7 saves).
Extra player shots: Mladost 0/4, Jadran S 3/8. Penalty shots: Mladost 1/1.
For full statistics and play-by-play action visit: Mladost – Jadran S, Total Waterpolo Arena
Jadran Split, which was coached by Marin Kljiskinic today (head coach Mile Smodlaka was excluded in the semifinal match), obviously recovered better from the semifinal loss than Mladost. Jadran was more motivated, made fewer number of mistakes, played well in defense, and deserved 3rd place. Jadran’s best achievement before this season was 4th place, which they won three times (in the previous three seasons).
Mladost’s Luka Bukic scored an opener in the second minute, but Jadran responded with two goals for 1:2. The hosts equalized twice (2:2, 3:3). After 3:3, Antonio Duzevic netted two goals with a power-play advantage within 50 seconds and Jadran built a 2-goal lead (5:3). From that point on, the Split-based side was always in front.
In the 23rd minute, Nikola Milradovic scored from a counter-attack (8:5). The difference was three goals for the first time in the match. Still, Cosmin Radu responded immediately (6:8).
But, Jadran regained a 3-goal advantage in the fourth period – 9:6 (26th minute) and 10:7 (29th minute). Mladost managed to reduce the gap (8:10), but that was all from them. The contest was over when Mladost’s Vrlic missed with 55 seconds to go. Jadran didn’t score in the next attack and the hosts’ coach Zoran Bajic called a time-out 22 seconds before the end. He set up a 7 on 6 (goalkeeper Marcelic went in front of the visitors’ goal). But Duje Pejkovic blocked Andro Buslje’s shot 11 seconds from the end. After that, Andjelo Setka sent the ball into the unguarded net for the final score (11:8).
ALL SCORES AND STATISTICS ON OUR TOURNAMENT PAGE
2009: Jug, 2010: Jadran HN, 2011: Jadran HN, 2012: Pro Recco, 2013: Primorje, 2014: Primorje, 2015: Primorje, 2016: Jug, 2017: Jug, 2018: Jug, 2019: Mladost, 2020:Mladost, 2021: Radnicki.