The Netherlands and Spain will compete in the first all-European World Championship since the last World Championships in Fukuoka in 2001.
Both sides needed to be close to their best to overcome their semi-final opponents (Italy and Australia), but no-one can deny that these two sides have shown that they are more than worthy of being considered the best two teams in the world.
Played 37; Netherlands 22 win, ties 3, Spain 12 wins
Played 37; Netherlands 22 win, ties 3, Spain 12 wins
Both teams will take medals home, but perhaps more valuably, both have secured a place at the Paris Olympics next summer.
Both the Netherlands and Spain are vying to secure their second World Championship title, with the Dutch having previously triumphed in the 1991 edition, while Spain emerged victorious a decade ago in Barcelona during the 2013 tournament.
The Dutch have won the last two meetings between the two sides, winning 7-6 in the group stage. earlier in the competition, and 12-8 at the World Cup semi-finals last month
Although Italy and Australia narrowly missed out on the final, they will have the opportunity to compete for the bronze medal, a distinction the Stingers achieved in 2019 and the Setterosa four years earlier in Kazan.
Hungary and the United States, last year’s finalists, will meet once again in the 5th play-off. Greece is favored to secure a consecutive finish in the World Championships as they face Canada.
France secured a commendable 9th place finish after a hard-fought battle with Israel, while New Zealand secured the 11th position following a comfortable victory over South Africa.
The Netherlands have advanced to their fourth World Championship final following a hard-fought 9-8 victory over a determined Italian side in the first semi-final.
The Dutch team displayed exceptional composure throughout the game, establishing an early advantage and maintaining their poise to secure the win.
Iris Wolves and Lieke Rogge both contributed with two goals each for the Dutch, while Simone Van de Kraats, the tournament’s top goal-scorer, showcased her defensive prowess instead. Laura Aarts delivered an outstanding performance as goalkeeper, registering an impressive tally of 13 saves.
Italy put forth a strong effort, but despite their determination, they were unable to find the crucial goal they needed in the last quarter. Giuditta Galardi performed admirably in the 2m position, and Claudia Marletta stepped up with a hat-trick for the Setterosa, who will now compete in the bronze medal match for the second consecutive tournament.
In the early stages of the match, the Netherlands dominated the play, securing two goals within a minute (Moolhuijzen and Van der Sloot) to gain momentum. Sleeking then extended the lead immediately into the second period, creating a moment of uncertainty for Italy. However, the Setterosa responded with two quick goals of their own within a minute (Avegno and Marletta), narrowing the gap to 6-5 at halftime.
The Dutch team maintained relentless pressure in the third quarter, launching a series of sustained attacks that tested the Italian defense. Despite having eight extra-player opportunities, the Netherlands couldn’t convert, retaining a narrow one-goal lead heading into the final quarter (8-7).
In the last quarter, Italy found themselves defending intensely and needed to secure a goal or two to gain momentum. However, they struggled to find their rhythm in attack, missing their first five opportunities before scoring again in the last two minutes. The Dutch team, though not executing well in their offensive attempts, remained resolute in defense, ultimately securing their spot in the World Championship final, and qualification to the Paris Olympics next year.
Spain will meet the Netherlands in the the World Championship final after a deserved 12-10 victory over Australia.
The European Champions proved a step too far for the Aussie Stingers, who fought incredibly well for the majority of the match, but had no answer to the considerable Spanish threat, particularly on the perimeter. Elena Ruiz made the headlines with four outrageous goals,while Judith Forca, one of the standout players of the tournament, contributed two scores.
This victory marks Spain’s third appearance in the last four World Championship finals, a testament to their consistent performance at the highest level..
Australia were incisive with a numerical advantage, scoring 6 of their 9 extra-player shots, but found it hard to threaten in other phases of play. The Spanish, however, found 7 goals from normal play. Both goalkeepers were phenomenal, particularly Australia’s Gabi Palm who made a couple of excellent 1 on 1 saves to keep her team competitive.
Spain took an early 2-0 lead in the opening minutes, extending their advantage to 4-1 with 90 seconds remaining in the first period. They maintained a three-goal lead for most of the first half, until Bronte Halligan narrowed the deficit to two scores with a penalty just before halftime (8-6).
In the third quarter, Spain momentarily gained a four-score lead with two quick goals from Elena Ruiz. However, Australia responded with two well-executed powerplay moves, bringing the Stingers back within reach heading into the final phase of the match (10-8).
The pivotal moment arrived when Maica Garcia scored two minutes into the final quarter, halting Australia’s momentum and granting Miki Oca’s team a three-goal advantage (11-8). Despite the Stingers’ continued efforts, they were unable to bridge the gap, ultimately securing Spain’s place in the World Championship final.
Many expected the two finalists from last years World Championships to meet once more. The re-match, however, will take place not in the final, but in the 5th place match.
Up first was America, and Team USA put their disappointing quarter-final defeat to Italy behind them with a controlled 16-4 victory over their neighbouring Canada, 16-4. The United States did well to limit their opponents to just a single goal a quarter, while unlocking the Canadian defence with real ease, converting with a 67% efficiency (16 from 24).
It was a game that was really influenced by USA’s young stars, with nineteen year-old Jenna Flynn showing rampant form when it came to hitting the target, scoring a game-high five times; seventeen year old Emily Ausmus netted three times.
Meanwhile there was very little to separate Hungary and Greece, but it was the Magyars who edged out the Greeks with by a narrow 10-9 margin. The teams were neck and neck for the majority of the match, but Hungary crucially put themselves two goals ahead early in the third period via Rita Keszthelyi’s penalty (5-3), and from there the Greeks were left chasing the game.
There were three goals each for MVP Krisztina Garda and Eirini Ninou – with the latter missing a penalty in the first quarter which ultimately proved costly.
9th & 11th Place Finals
France have finished in a respectable 9th place in Fukuoka with an impressive final-day win over Israel (11-7).
A second quarter hat-trick from Estelle Millot was pivotal, turning a 3-2 game into a 7-3 match, with the former Ferencvaros winger finding two quick goals at the end of the period. With the momentum very much with the French, they leaped ahead finding the next three goals in the second half. Israel finished with spirit, but couldn’t make amends for a goal-less 13 minutes in the middle two quarters of the game.
These two developing nations have come so far in such a short space of time that they will be slightly disappointed to finish outside the top-8, but a top-10 finish for both teams is objectively a decent showing for both France and Israel – particularly the latter at their maiden appearance in the competition.
Meanwhile, in the first game of the day, every outfield player was on target for New Zealand as they brushed aside their Souther Hemisphere counterparts South Africa 25-6.
It was a game New Zealand were never going to lose, from taking a 7-0 lead in the first via seven different scorers. The Kiwi’s flexed their muscles in transition and on their extra-player scenarios. New Zealands number seven scored seven goals, as the Spandau 04 Berlin attacker finished the tournament as her sides best scorer (18 goals).
Given New Zealand’s quick ascent to this level of water polo in the last two years, its easy to suggest this tournament was underwhelming for Angie Winstanley’s young and ever-growing team. However, a tough preliminary group, and then a really difficult cross-over with Italy (who later defeated USA) is important context for any analysis.
Despite just a single victory at these World Championships, South Africa can return to their continent with their heads held high, with a record-setting 12th place finish.
11. New Zealand
12. South Africa