The Women’s World Cup continued today in Athens, and the two games played so far couldn’t have had more contrasting dynamics.
The first game of the day, between two sides still in the hunt for a World Cup Finals ticket, was a really tight tussle that saw Spain narrowly prevail over Australia (9-8). Australia missed a last minute penalty which could have otherwise altered the outcome of the match completely.
The second match, however, was a lopsided affair in which the Dutch defeated Italy 16-10. The final score may not look too bad, but Italy was never in the game – largely due to the domineering form of the Dutch forwards.
Later on today, China will face the hosts Greece, followed by a replay of the World Championship final from Budapest between Hungary and the United States.
Day 1, Women’s World Cup 2023 Athens– Group B
Spain 9 – 8 Australia (3-1, 2-4, 3-2, 1-1)
Spain: L. Ester, C. Nogue, P. Prats, B. Ortiz 5, N. Perez, P. Crespi, E. Ruiz 1, P. Pena, A. Ruiz, P. Camus 1, M. Garcia, P. Leiton 2, M. Terre
Australia: G. Palm, P. Casey 2, T. Fasala, B. Halligan 2, B. Leeson-Smith 2, A. Andrews, C. Andrews 1, A. Ridge, Z. Arancin 1i, B. McClean, S. Hearn, E. Armit, G. Longman
Spain narrowly defeated a spirited Australian side today by a single goal, aided by the five-goal contribution of Bea Ortiz and a last-gasp penalty save from Martina Terre.
In an entertaining first contest in South Athens, the game was, perhaps surprisingly, a close encounter. Spain deserved the win, but it was anything but simple. The Australians rallied twice from desperate situations in the second and third quarters, and in the end were a Bronte Halligan penalty miss away from guaranteeing penalties.
Bea Ortiz continues to shine for her national team, with a brilliant five-goal game today. Sant Andreu’s Martina Terre, however, may well be the hero, with a late penalty save to seal the win.
Although it was another narrow defeat for the Stingers, they can take heart from the manner of their defeat. They made sure that Spain could not run away with the result and went toe to toe with one of the most complete outfits in world water polo. Given the result today, Paul Oberman and his team will still feel qualification to the World Cup is still on the cards.
Neither side was at their best going forward. The Stingers took a decent return on their extra-player situations in attack, converting five out of ten. Spain, as ever, exploited their advantage on the 2m line, earning three penalties and scoring three goals from that position.
The Spanish were deservedly ahead after eight minutes, with Australia unable to really threaten the reigning European and World League Champions.
Paula Leiton had a big part to play in the first two goals of the game, converting dominantly for Spain’s first before earning a penalty that was put away by Bea Ortiz. Ortiz herself made it 3-0 via a second penalty shot. On Australia’s seventh attempt on goal, they finally found their first goal of the game, three seconds from the end, with Charlize Andrews’ finish from close range.
Australia really lived up to their name in the second period, with a stinging spell early on that saw them score the next three goals to take the lead. Although Australia had struggled to convert any of their extra-player moves in the first quarter, they immediately converted two power-plays in the second period to level proceedings (Casey and Halligan). Bronte Halligan’s well-placed shot then saw the Aussies lead 4-3.
Spain rallied, with Ortiz finding her third of the game before Ruiz tucked home Spain’s third penalty of the game. The Stingers’ attacking momentum hadn’t left yet and they went into half-time level, though, with a captain’s finish from Zoe Arancini, 17 seconds from half-time.
Spain might well have been out of sight going into the third quarter, having found the next three scores. Once again, their dominant centre-forward pairing of Paula Leiton and Paula Camus were too hot to handle, with both finding excellent scores (8-5). But Spain could not escape the Aussies, who clawed back into the duel with beautiful finishes from Halligan (off the post) and Bridget Leeson-Smith (8-7).
Neither side took a big stride in the last quarter, with Australia unable to equalize and the Spanish unable to kill the tie. Ortiz added her fifth goal of the game in the last quarter, but Miki Oca’s team was once again pegged back by Pascalle Casey’s second extra-player strike of the game (9-8). With 0:36 seconds to play, Bronte Halligan looked odds on to take the game to extra-time, but saw her penalty saved brilliantly by one of the best young goalkeepers in the world, Martina Terre.
Day 1, Women’s World Cup 2023 Athens– Group A
Netherlands 16 – 10 Italy (4-2, 5-2, 4-3, 3-3)
Netherlands: L. Aarts, I.Wolves, B. Sleeking 3, M. Keuning, S. Van der Sloot 1, S. Van de Kraats 4, B. Rogge 3, V. Sevenich, K. Joustra 1, L. Rogge 4, F. Bosveld, N. Ten Broek, S. Buis
Italy: A. Condorelli, C. Tabani 2, S. Galardi, S. Avegno 3, L. Cergol, D. Bettini 3, D. Picozzi, V. Gant, V. Palmieri 1, C. Marletta 2, A. Cocchiere, G. Viacava, C. Banchelli
The Netherlands continued their winning streak in the World Cup, bossing Italy in an extremely one-sided contest, 16-10.
The Oranges were incredibly impressive today, tearing the Setterosa’s defence apart in attack. The Dutch sharpshooters were in sublime form in both ordinary and extra-player attacks, with a 70% man-up conversion rate and a 66% overall shot efficiency.
Italy looked totally disjointed and slightly overwhelmed. They were without their head coach, Carlo Silipo, who was serving a one-match ban, which might have been a factor. But there is no doubt that the Italians were second best, and that this is a damaging defeat ahead of their game with the USA tomorrow. In the end, with the Italians grabbing three late goals in the 4th quarter, the scoreline looks slightly more flattering for the Italians.
All the credit has to go to the Dutch, who look like they currently possess the most dangerous attack in the competition. Lieke Rogge, once again, is proving why she deserves her call-up with four more goals. Van de Kraats also netted four times, with Brigitte Sleeking and Bente Rogge securing hat-tricks.
The Netherlands will face Hungary in their next game, a team they defeated by a single goal last week in Rotterdam (12-11).
As for the game, neither team started well, but it was the Dutch that looked the more menacing and had a two-goal lead after eight minutes (4-2).
There was no action of note inside the first three minutes of the game, but after that, the goals flew in, two apiece. A late brace inside the last ninety seconds from De Zaan’s Bente Rogge was the difference between the two teams.
While the first quarter was fairly even, there was nothing even about the second period, with the Dutch imposing themselves formidably, finding three straight scores from Van der Sloot, Van de Kraats, and Brigitte Sleeking. Dafne Bettini’s driven shot looked to halt the Orange advance, but there was no respite for the Setterosa, with Lieke Rogge responding almost immediately. Both teams added a goal before halftime, but the Dutch were well and truly in the driving seat (9-4).
The Dutch kept ticking along in the third, continuing to add to their tally with two more for Van de Kraats and a goal apiece for the Rogge sisters. The Italians found three goals, but there was nothing to suggest a comeback was imminent (13-7).
The Dutch were not satisfied with sitting on their laurels. They wanted to floor the Italians, and halfway through the last quarter, it looked like this could be a really ugly scoreline for the Setterosa, with two tidy finishes from Brigitte Sleeking and a 5m penalty for Lieke Rogge (16-7). However, the Italians found the last three goals of the game to save some face, two from Silvia Avegno and one from Bettini.
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