Spain, Italy, Hungary, and the USA will play in the semifinals of the World Cup Final at Uytengsu Aquatics Center in Los Angeles.
The first day of the tournament started with one-sided contests, but the second half of the quarterfinal program produced a lot of thrills.
The finalists of the 2022 World Championships cruised to the semis. Spain beat Germany 18:9. Italy ran over Romania 20:2.
The next two quarterfinal duels were very exciting.
Hungary beat Greece in a low-scoring encounter – 6:4. The Greeks led 2:0 in the first period, but after that, they scored only two goals. However, everything was open until the fourth quarter. Before the fourth period, the teams were tied at 4:4. Hungary secured the win with two goals in the last eight minutes.
The last quarterfinal produced a lot of thrills. The USA edged out Serbia 10:9. The Serbs were the side that controlled the result for most of the time. They entered the fourth quarter leading 9:6. However, the hosts netted four unanswered goals in the final period and secured themselves a ticket for the semifinals.
The Americans will face Italy in the semifinals. The second pair is a duel between Spain and Hungary.
2023 World Cup Final (Los Angeles, June 30 – July 2), Quarterfinals
Germany – Spain 9:18 (2:6, 2:3, 2:5, 3:4)
Germany:Benke, Bozic 2, Korbel, Cuk 3, Schuetze, Jungling, Strelezkij 2, Chiru 2, Dyck, Schipper, Gansen, Vernet. Head coach: Sekulic.
Spain: Aguirre, Munarriz 5, Granados 3, Sanahuja 3, De Toro, Larumbe, Barroso 2, Cabanas, Tahull 2, Perrone, Valera 1, Bustos 2, Lorrio. Head coach: Martin.
The world champion opened the tournament with an easy win over Germany. There was no doubt who would win. Spain made a big difference in the early stage of the match and increased it until the end, even though Germany was very aggressive in the attack. Still, Spain’s goalkeepers Aguirre and Lorrio combined 15 saves, so the world champion’s big lead was never in danger.
Spain went to “+4” already in the sixth minute (5:1). Germany reduced the gap to three a few times, but nothing more than that (2:5, 3:6, 4:7). The Spanish attack, led by Alberto Munarriz, did its job well and Germany’s all comeback attempts ended in failure.
Italy – Romania 20:2 (5:0, 5:1, 5:0, 5:1)
Italy: Del Lungo, Di Fulvio 3, Alesiani, Marziali 2, Fondelli 3, Cannella 3, Renzuto, Echenique 1, Velotto, Bruni 2, Di Somma 3, Iocchi Gratta 3, Nicosia. Head coach:Campagna.
Romania: Tic, Neamtu 1, Lutescu, Fulea 1, Tepelus, Prioteasa, Bota, Gergelyfi, Colodrovschi, Georgescu, Iudean, Vancsik, Dragusin. Head coach: Rath.
Romania isn’t a team that is in the circle of the best in the world. However, it shouldn’t let itself suffer an 18-goal loss, even if the rival is the mighty team of Italy.
The qualifications for the Europeans, where Romania didn’t have strong rivals, indicated that they weren’t in good shape. Today’s encounter proved that they weren’t prepared well for two tournaments within ten days. They made the Italians’ task in the quarterfinals very easy.
Italy showed no mercy and had good training before the semifinals. The “Settebello” kept the same rhythm throughout the game. They didn’t underestimate the rival. Italy built a 10:0 lead before Romanai got on the scoreboard. Andrei Fulea scored the first goal for Romania, converting a double man-up. It happened eight seconds before the middle break.
The second half was almost identical to the first two periods. The Italians dominated. Romania scored its second goal two minutes and 14 seconds before the end. Neamtu found the net from a penalty shot (2:19). A minute later, Di Somma made it 20:2. Romania was awarded a new penalty shot, but Nicosia (who replaced Del Lungo at halftime) saved a shot from Tepelus.
Hungary – Greece 6:4 (2:2, 1:0, 1:2, 2:0)
Hungary: Levai, Angyal, Manhercz, Konarik, Vamos, A.Nagy, Zalanki 1, Fekete, Nemet, Varga 2, Jansik 2, Vin.Vigvari 1, Vogel. Head coach: Zs. Varga.
Greece: Zerdevas, Genidounias, Skoumpakis, Kalogeropoulos 1, Fountoulis, Papanastasiou, Dervisis, Argyropoulos, Nikolaidis 1, Kakaris 1, Alafragkis, Chalyvopoulos, Tzortzatos. Head coach: Vlachos.
Thanks to an excellent defense in a huge battle with the Olympic silver medalists, Hungary advanced to the semis.
In the middle of the first quarter, Greece led 2:0. But, in the following 28 minutes, the Hungarian team conceded only two goals. It struggled in the attack, but the defense, commanded by Soma Vogel, who was voted the MVP of the game, was close to perfection.
Centre-forwards Kakaris and Nikolaidis gave Greece a 2:0 lead. The Greeks had two man-ups to stretch the margin to three, but they missed. The Hungarians didn’t waste their chances in the final minute of the first period, and leveled with two power-play goals within 54 seconds. First, Szilard Jansik put the Hungarians on the scoreboard from a 6 on 5 a minute before the first break. Vince Vigvari, who debuted for the senior national team today, closed the first quarter with another goal with an extra man just six seconds before the buzzer.
Hungary kept the momentum. After just 20 minutes of play in the second period, Zalanki’s shot ricocheted off Zerdevas’ hand, and Hungary went ahead for the first time (3:2). There were no more goals in this half.
Kalogeropoulos ended the Greeks’ goalless phase, which lasted 13 minutes and a half, with a fantastic shot from outside. Hungary had a 6 on 5 in its following possession, but Manhercz had his shot block. The Greeks earned a man-up in their next attack. Ioannis Fountoulis made no mistake and put his team in front. It turned out that the goal from Fountoulis for 4:3 in the 19th minute was the last one for Greece.
After that, Zalanki missed from a man-up, but t didn’t take long before returnee Denes Varga leveled the score with a nice goal from a distance. The remaining four and a half minutes of the quarter were a hard-fought battle, but with no goals.
The final part of the match was intense, and the defenses on both sides worked very effectively. Jansik gave Hungary a 5:4 lead early in the fourth after a nice assist from Gergo Fekete. That was followed by a series of unsuccessful attacks at both ends of the pool. In the 30th minute, Hungary forced a penalty shot. Denes Varga converted it to a 6:4 lead. Hungary managed to save that advantage and qualify for the semifinals.
Serbia – USA 9:10 (5:3, 1:0, 3:3, 0:4)
Serbia: Misovic, Radulovic 1, S. Rasovic 4, Randjelovic, Lazic, Milojevic, Drasovic, Jaksic 1, Jankovic, Ubovic 2, Vucinic, Martinovic 1, Mitrovic. Head coach: Stevanovic.
USA: Weinberg, Hooper 2, Gruwell, Abramson, Daube 2, Cupido, Hallock 1, Woodhead, Bowen 1, Ch.Dodd, R.Dodd 1, Irving 3, Holland. Head coach: Udovicic.
Serbia was the loser of Day 1 of the tournament in Los Angeles. The Serbs, who weren’t favorites, led for almost the entire match. They controlled the result, had a 3-goal advantage, but weren’t able to save a solid lead. Therefore, they will play for 5th place.
Team USA took the lead just once in the first three periods. Max Irving scored for 3:2 in the 6th minute. But the Serbs scored three in the last two minutes of the first period. Nemanja Ubovic netted two back-to-back goals from his, centre-forward position for 4:3. In the dying seconds of the quarter, Ubovic was the one who assisted to captain Nikola Jaksic, who converted a man-up for 5:3. It was Serbia’s only power-play goal in the match (shot percentage 1/5).
At the beginning of the second quarters, the hosts had two chances to level the score. First, Branislav Mitrovic saved a shot from Cupido. A minute later, the Americans failed to convert a 6 on 4, the Serbs started a counter-attack, which was finished by Strahinja Rasovic, who found the net for 6:3. The Serbs missed a great opportunity to stretch the margin to four. In the 11th minute, they got a penalty shot because USA’s goalkeeper Adrian Weinberg pulled the goal. Still, Serbia didn’t go to 7:3, as Jaksic hit the post.
However, the Serbs kept a 3-goal advantage by the end of the first half.
The Americans were without a goal between the 6th and the 19th minute. Max Irving broke that silence with an action goal for 4:6. Then, he assisted Alex Bowen, who made it 5:6.
Serbia’s goalless phase lasted for 12 minutes and was ended by the youngest one, Vasilije Martinovic, who netted an action goal for 7:5. Ben Hallock replied immediately. However, the Serbs rebuilt a 3-goal lead (Rasovic scored another goal from a counter-attack, Radulovic added one from 6 on 6) and headed into the final quarter with a 9:6 advantage.
However, nobody saw what was coming. Many believed that Serbia was in the semifinals. But, the Americans were able to come back. Serbia made a lot of mistakes, especially in the attack. Adrian Weinberg did his job excellently in front of the hosts’ goal (he finished the match with 15 saves). Still, the Serbs helped him with a few rashly finished attacks and shots in the fourth quarter.
Johnny Hooper opened the fourth period with a goal from a 6 on 5 (the USA’s extra player shots percentage was 3/8). In the middle of the quarter, the same player converted a penalty for 8:9.
The hero of the finish was Hannes Daube. Three minutes from the end, he leveled from a counter-attack. It was a possession after Serbia wasted man-up because of the wrong pass. Daube netted for 10:9 with 74 seconds left on the clock. Serbia missed the chance to level the score in the next attack. But, the match wasn’t over yet. The visitors had the ball in the last 14 seconds. However, Weinberg stole the ball and saved USA’s win.
Friday, June 30
QF1: Germany – Spain 9:18
QF2: Italy – Romania 20:2
QF3:Hungary – Greece 6:4
QF4: Serbia – USA 9:10
Saturday, July 1
Semifinals 5th – 8th: Germany – Greece (13:00 local time – 22:00 CET)
Semifinals 5th – 8th: Serbia – Romania (15:00 – 00:00)
Semifinals: Spain – Hungary (17:00 – 02:00)
Semifinals: Italy – USA (19: 00 – 04:00)
Sunday, July 2
7th-place match (13:00 – 22:00)
5th-place match (15:00 – 00:00)
Bronze-medal match(17:00 – 02:00)
Final (19:00 – 04:00)