Spain have won their second ever U20 World Championship title after beating Greece by 10 goals to 5. The Ruiz Barril sisters, Elena and Ariadna, were the two who ran the final, scoring five between them. The damage was done in the first half from the Spaniards, with the Greeks ultimately unable to recover.
In the penultimate game of the competition, Hungary beat Greece to secure yet another Bronze medal at a womens competition. Three has been the magic number for them this summer, finishing third at the Tokyo Olympics, the U17 European Championships in Sibenik and now an U20 World Championship Bronze medal.
Russia stuffed the Dutch in a game neither really wanted to play, while the hosts Israel ended a rollercoaster of a week with a buzz, defeating an unlucky Serbian side only on penalties.
As the sun sets on another major tournament, those involved in the running of Women’s World Junior Championships can be very proud of the fantastic spectacle that the players, coaches and fans all over the world have enjoyed over the last week.
Greece 5-10 Spain (1-5, 0-1, 3-3, 1-1)
Spain have beaten Greece in the final of the 2021 Women’s World Junior Championship to lift the trophy for a second time in their history, ten years after their first title in 2011. In a game that was won due to a relentless early onslaught from the Spanish, the Greeks looked shell-shocked and could not recover.
Elena Ruiz Barril converted a penalty within two minutes to get the game going. Greece’s young superstar, Maria Myriokefalitaki looked to draw her side level, but the final two minutes of the quarter was what made the difference. Two super-quick goals on the bounce from the other Ruiz Barril, Ariadna, and follow up conversions by Elena Camarena and Paula Camus put the Spaniards in the driving seat.
In a fairly eventless second period, the only goal-scorers were Spain, through Gisel-La Farre, as she gave her side a commanding 6-1 lead.
Foteini Tricha and Eirini Ninou looked to spark a comeback for the Greeks, but two goals from Paula Camus made it three in the game from her, and another score from Ariadna Ruiz for her hat-trick kept Greece at bay. Then, as if Greece were not sick enough of the Ruiz Barril’s, Elena put away Spain’s final tenth goal to secure the win and the tournament.
Spain are deserved winners, but one wonders what could have been for Greece had they not had a shocker in the first half of the game. Alexia Anna Kammenou will full-well know that at this level of the game, you cannot afford to start slowly – especially with the talent that Spain have. Greece had an off-day tonight in Netanya, but it should not overshadow a really composed performance at these games, by the Greeks and there is no doubt that this proud nation still produces some of the world’s top young female athletes.
For the Spaniards, this championship title will go some way to reasserting the confidence in the country that their next generation of players are at the level of those before them. Despite a disappointing Olympic final at Tokyo, Spanish water polo has never been in such a good place; with the domestic league being stronger than ever which is definitely helping with the development of so many young talents. Several games in the Spanish league were postponed for the opening two game weeks, in the main because of the number of young players that would be attending this competition on international duty.
Hungary 12-10 Italy (3-3, 4-4, 1-1, 4-2)
Hungary had the guile to see of Italy in the 3rd-4th play-off to take home a bronze medal. In an extremely close contest, that saw a constant shift in momentum from one goal to another, the Hungarians waited until three minutes from time to score two unanswered goals from Panni Szegedi and Panna Pocze.
Two of the tournament’s finest, Kinga Peresztegi-Nagy (HUN) and Sofia Giustini (ITA) both bagged four in the match, but ultimately it was the Hungarians who secured the Bronze medal – the third in their history in this competition (the previous two being in 1999 & 2007).
Netherlands 8-19 Russia (3-6, 4-2, 0-7, 1-4)
The Russian’s put their animosity of not medalling in this competition into their final game in Netanya by flawlessly outclassing a tired dutch side. Russia had the advantage after the first, but there was pushback in the second from the Dutch thanks to some silky man-up executions.
However, the Russians found another gear and really finished the game as a contest in the third as seven unanswered goals from Daria Chagochinka, Aleksandra Bogdanova, Regina Galimzianova, Anastasia Panfilova, Daria Bunakova and Yulia Lapteva (2) mercilessly ended Dutch hopes of a positive finish.
Serbia 13-14 Israel (3-4, 3-3, 3-0, 1-3, PSO 3-4)
It took a penalty shoot-out to separate Israel and Serbia as the hosts Israel secure a 7th place finish – one of their best showings at major competition in recent years. In a game that was far closer than the first time these two met on the first day of the competition, it is hard to say that Israel didn’t deserve the result in such a grandstand finish.
Israel’s best scorer, Maria Bogachenko, netted a first quarter hat-trick, but it looked for all the world that the Serbs would win the game when Ana Milicevic made it 10-8 with four minutes left in the match. However, two goals in the last two minutes from Yahav Farakash sent the game to a penalty shoot-out.
The heart-breaking irony for the Serbs was that their two best finishers, and two players who had very decent tournaments Ana Milicevic and Hristina Ilic, both missed their penalties, costing their side the game.