Day 4 of the women’s competition saw the United States bounce back from their defeat to Hungary with a professional victory over a lacklustre Russian Olympic Committee. Maggie Steffens netted four times in the game, taking her to the top of the all-time goal-scoring charts at the Olympic games.
Elsewhere in Group B, Hungary top the group after they saw off a spirited fight from hosts Japan – who are all but eliminated from the competition. Hungary’s top-scoring centre-forward, Rebecca Parkes, secured six more goals in an outstanding individual performance.
In Group A, the Netherlands went straight for the jugular as they put thirty-three goals past South Africa, only conceding one. Megens and Van der Kraats both grabbed five goals each, whilst Maartje Keuning earned a double-hat-trick.
Meanwhile, the last game of the day saw an impressive Spanish side edge out Australia to ruin their 100% win record. Bea Ortiz was amongst the goals with five. The top of the group is still to be decided, as the Netherlands and Australia still have another game to play on Sunday.
South Africa 1-33 Netherlands (0-7, 0-9, 1-9, 0-8 ) – LIVESCORE
South Africa: Y. Gerber, G. Moir, B. Motau, M. Sileno, A. Hallendorff, S. January, A. Vaughn, J. Wedderburn 1, C. Meecham, H. Miller, N. Macleod, M. Maartens. Head Coach: D. Mentoor
Netherlands: J. Koenders, M. Megens 5, D. Genee 2, S. Van der Sloot 4, I. Wolves 2, N. Stomphorst 1, K-L. Joustra 1, V. Sevenich 3, M. Keuning 6, I. Koolhaas, S. Van de Kraats 5, B. Sleeking 3. Head Coach: A. Havenga
Extra Player Shots: South Africa 0/2, Netherlands 9/10. Penalty Shots: South Africa 0/0, Netherlands 1/1
The Netherlands showed no mercy in demolishing South Africa in the opening game of the day. In one of the most one-sided contests the water polo event has ever seen at the games, the Netherlands shattered the records for the most goals ever scored in a game and the biggest margin of win, set earlier in the week by Spain against South Africa.
Maartje Keunning scored six, whilst Maud Megens and Simone Van der Kraats both netted five. The rest of the goals were shared equally amongst the team, with only Ilse Koolhaas failing to net for the Dutch.
It took twenty minutes before Jordan Wedderburn scored South Africa’s only goal of the game in the third quarter – and it was a cute lob worthy of any Olympic fixture.
Whilst it was clearly an easy game for the Dutch, any team deserves credit for being so committed to scoring goals. They will progress to the quater-finals no matter what, but will hope they can position as close to the top of the table as possible in their last game against Canada
On the other hand, South Africa also deserve applause for the way they have conducted themselves at these games; the opposition has been relentless and the defeats have been harsh, but this young team never gave up fighting. Under the leadership of the inspirational Delaine Mentoor, the first-ever female Head Coach at the Olympics, their experience has been certainly one of learning for the future. Their last fixture of these games will be against Australia.
Spain 15 – 9 Australia (3-3, 4-3, 4-1, 4-2 ) – LIVESCORE
Spain: L. Ester, M. Bach, A. Espar 1, B. Oritz 5, R. Tarrago, I. Gonzalez, C. Espar, P. Pena 1, J. Forca 3, E. Ruiz, M. Garcia 3, P. Leiton 2. Head Coach: M. Oca
Australia: L.Yanitsas, A. Andrews 1, H. Buckling 1, E. Armit, H. Bronte 1 K. Gofers, B. Knox, R. Webster 2, B. Halligan, Z. Arancini 1, M. Kearns 2, L. Mihailovic, A. Ridge. Head Coach: P. Mihailovic
Extra Player Shots: Spain 4/10, Australia 4/11. Penalty Shots: Spain 0/0, Australia 0/0
Spain recovered from their disappointing defeat to the Netherlands with a classy victory over Australia. Miki Oca’s side were impressive against a strong Australian side who, despite losing, are already guaranteed a place in the final 8.
The first half was a close affair, but an excellent third quarter from the Spaniards gave them breathing space, and they never looked back. Spain’s Bea Ortiz netted five times, but a large amount of praise must go to the two centre-forwards, Paula Leiton and Maica Garcia – who were so dangerous.
The result, in the end, looked comfortable. However, Australia had several chances in extra-player scenarios to perhaps fight for a point, but they could not convert.
First blood went to Australia as Laura Ester fumbled Bronte Halligan’s shot into her own net, but captain Pili Pena scored her side to settle a few Spanish nerves. Then, Spain went ahead when Lea Yanitsas in the Australian goal couldn’t keep Bea Ortiz’s shot out of the net. But four-time Olympian Bronwen Knox used her experience to rifled in an equaliser for the Stingers.
A beautiful curling effort from the left-handed Judith Forca Ariza put Spain ahead, but again Laura Ester Ramos in the Spanish goal let a really soft shot from Hannah Buckling sneak over the line to bring the score to 3-3 at the end of the first period.
Into the second period, Paula Leiton tussled fiercely with Amy Ridge and converted with a backshot, but Australia’s wonderful left-hander, Abby Andrews, levelled the scores up.
Garcia Godoy then put Spain back ahead from centre-forward, as the Spanish clearly were getting some joy from the pit. Maica Garcia then added her second on 6m with a top-right hand shot that completely deceived the Australian keeper, Yanitsas.
But Australia were not behind for long as Aussie captain Rowie Webster, led by example and scored two goals on the bounce – the first on the extra-player chance, with the second via a sumptuous far-post lob from 6m. Spain just nudged ahead just before half-time, when Maica Garcia scored her third goal from the post on a really well worked Spanish man-up set play to make it 7-6.
Ortiz’s shot in the third was heavily deflected by Bronte Halligan past her own keeper as Spain created a two-goal difference, but Australia showed their determination in scoring via Zoe Arancini almost immediately to bring it back within one goal.
If Ortiz’s first goal in the third quarter was scrappy, her second was definitely not. She restored Spain’s two-goal cushion with a finesse, curling lob from position five.
Paula Leiton, who had been working immensely in the pit, then grabbed a goal for herself from a looped pass in the air to make it 10-7. With the gap now at three goals, Australia really needed to kickstart their game again, but the next goal was courtesy of a thunderous effort from Anna Espar. Australia were being given chances on the extra-player situations, but they were wasteful.
The last thing Australia was another Bea Ortiz rocket into the top corner, but that’s what they got at the start of the fourth to make it 12-7 to the Europeans. But Tilly Kearns netted two much-needed goals from the centre to keep Australian hopes alive.
However, Spain added their 13th and 14th goals via Judith Forca Ariza that really seemed to drain the confidence away from the side from the Southern Hemisphere. Ortiz added her fifth of the game to rub salt in the wounds.
Spain have finished all their group games, whilst Australia can possibly top the group depending on how the Netherlands do against Canada, and how the Aussies fare against South Africa.
USA 18-5 ROC (5-1, 4-2, 6-1, 3-1) – LIVESCORE
USA: A. Johnson, M. Musselman 1, M. Seidemann, R. Fattal 1, P. Hauschild 3, M. Steffens 4, S. Haralabidis 4, J. Neushul 1, A. Fischer, K. Gilchrist 1, M. Fischer 2, A. Williams 1. Head Coach: A. Krikorian
ROC: E. Golovina, M. Bersneva, E. Prokofyeva 1, E. Karimova, N. Glyzina, V. Vakhitova, A. Serzhantova 1, A. Simanovich 2, A. Timofeeva, E. Soboleva, E. Ivanova 1, A. Fedotova. Head Coach: Alexandr Gaidukov
Extra Player Shots: USA 4/5, ROC 3/6. Penalty Shots: USA 0/0, ROC 0/0
The United States silenced their critics in their last group game by inflicting a heavy defeat on a disappointing Russian Olympic Committee in a game that Maggie Steffens became the all-time Olympic leading goalscorer. Steffens’ four goals in the game takes her overall tally at the Olympics to 49 – a reminder of how great a player she is.
Adam Krikorian and his side will have been hurting after suffering a historic defeat to Hungary in their last outing and may have even been nervous going into this game, but they trusted their own ability to get them back on track, which they did with a really dominant performance over rivals ROC.
They were ruthless going forward, but the USA will be most satisfied with the way they defended. Alternating between pressing and dropping, it was a technical masterclass by this group of outstanding athletes that the Russians couldn’t compete with.
Any vulnerability that this team may have shown against Hungary were quickly silenced as their nerves were settled with a blistering first quarter when Makenzie Fischer squeezed a shot past Evgeniia Golovina before Alys Williams’s cross-cage shot from the left made it two.
Two excellent strikes from Steph Haralabidis then complemented by a Kaleigh Gilchrist conversion ensured that Evgeniya Ivanova’s bouncing goal for the Russian Olympic Committee did not give the Russians any momentum at the end of the first period.
They picked up in the second period where they left off in the first with two similar, back to back goals: firstly with Paige Hauschild’s leaning shot from the right before Maggie Steffen’s also found the back of the net past Golovina.
Not only were the USA converting with superb frequency, but the Americans were also frustrating the ROC with a strong defence – forcing lobs and attempts from range that Ashleigh Johnson easily dealt with. Throughout the game, the ROC struggled to assert any sort of sustained pressure on the USA.
ROC really needed a goal to avoid the game really looking ugly for them. Luckily, Anastasia Simanovich was on hand to provide for the blue caps, before their captain Ekaterina Prokofyeva converted a powerful, driven shot on the extra play.
But the ROC surrendered the momentum when the USA earned back their five-goal lead from Maggie Steffens on a double-man up. Rachel Fattal then became the seventh American goalscorer from the left to make the score 9-3 at half-time.
Playing with confidence and poise, Rachel Fattal added her second of the game which was sandwiched between two Maggie Steffens goals – the first of which took her to the all-time leading Olympic goalscoring record. The record that now belongs to the two-time Olympic gold medalist only serves to highlight that we are looking at one of the greatest female players of all time.
With the contest essentially over, the USA were having a field day in front of goal with conversions from Haralabidis, Hauschild and Neushul to make it 14-4.
Into the third, Makenzie Fischer added her second of the game to make it 16-4. Simanovich pulled one back for ROC but further goals from Hauschild and Fischer in the final quarter sealed the points.
For the Russian Olympic Committee, the result was not bad, given how formidable this USA team is. However, Aleksandr Gaidukov will be more concerned with what was a dreadful performance. Too many of their big players did not show up in a game where their attack was totally ineffective. The Russians know they can play much better and compete with the USA, but not the first time in the last few months have we seen the Americans brush past the Russians with such ease.
Japan 13 -17 Hungary (4-3, 3-4, 3-5, 3-4 ) – LIVESCORE
Japan: Y. Arima 4, A. Inaba 4, E. Ura, K. Iwano, M. Koide, M. Hashida 2, Y. Niizawa, M. Yamamoto, K. Kawaguchi 1, M. Tokumoto, K. Kudo 2, M. Shioya. Head Coach: Makhiro Motomiya
Hungary: E. Gangl, D. Szilagyi 4, G. Szucs, G. Gurisatti 3, V. Valyi 1, R. Parkes 6, A. Illes, R. Keszthelyi 3, D. Leimeter, N. Rybanska, K. Garda, A. Magyari. Head Coach: Attila Biro
Extra Player Shots: Japan 2/6, Hungary 5/8. Penalty Shots: Japan 2/2, Hungary 1/1.
Fresh from their heroics against the United States, Hungary got the job done as they defeated their hosts, Japan. The Hungarians were not convincing, and Japan really made Hungary work for the points, but six goals from Rebecca Parkes was the difference between the two sides.
Japan were probably the better side for much of the first half. They were brave and resilient and had the lead into the second period, but the experience and class of the Hungarians showed, as the Europeans dominated the second half. Japan didn’t seem to have an answer for the dominance of Rebecca Parkes at centre-forward, whilst Dorottya Szilagyi was also in fine form, scoring four times.
Despite sitting bottom of the table, Japan have been really excellent hosts, and have given a fantastic account of themselves at these games. They will not progress to the quarter-finals, but they can be proud of a hearty team effort in the last week.
Hungary were underwhelming to say the least, but the points are on the board, and baring a shock against China tomorrow, they will top Group B. Attila Biro, their coach, will be concerned, however, with how many chances they squandered, and also with how many goals they have conceded during these group games as a whole.
Rita Keszthelyi set the ball rolling for the Hungarians inside two minutes, however, Akari Inaba levelled the tie from the pit with a really delightful cross-cage backhand.
Rebecca Parkes put Hungary back ahead from the post on a man up, but Japan took a two-goal lead with fantastic goals from distance from Yumi Arima, Maiko Hashida and Kyoko Kudo. Greta Gurisatti reduced the deficit with a perfect bounce shot into the roof of Minami Shioya’s net, but Japan had a slight 4-3 advantage after the first quarter.
A string of heroic blocks into the second period from Japan could not stop Hungary from grabbing a well-deserved equalizer from Dorottya Szilagyi, however, they went behind soon after when Kako Kawaguchi could hardly miss on a double man-up. But Dorottya Szilagyi was determined to lead her team to victory – she scored two in as many minutes to equalize and then take a 6-5 lead.
However, Yumi Arima kept Hungary under pressure when she scored a penalty that was awarded after Krisztina Garda was excluded and then interfered with the play on her way out. Kudo and Parkes both netted again for both sides to make it 7-7.
After a nervy start to the third quarter, Parkes grabbed her third of the game from 2m. Hungary should have scored twice more within a minute – Parkes fired straight at the Japanese keeper, whilst Szilagyi’s shot could only strike the bar. Inaba then punished Hungary for those misses, as she pulled Japan level at 8-8.
Attila Biro decided to swap out first-choice keeper Alda Magyari for Edina Gangl at half-time – and it seemed worth it. She made two excellent saves to avoid giving Japan the lead once more. However, one of Gangl’s saves was not enough, as Japan were awarded a goal in confusing circumstances as a VAR review judged that Maiko Hashida’s shot had in fact crossed the line.
However, Japan could not handle Rebecca Parkes on 2m. It seemed far too easy for the Hungarians to feed New Zealand born centre-forward as she scored two on the bounce to make it 10-10.
The game then changed with a minute and a half before the end of the quarter. Hungary took the lead again when a long ball over the top found Rita Keszthelyi, who fired past Shioya before Gurisatti clawed the ball into the net as Japan trailed by two going into the last quarter.
Eruna Ura had a massive chance to pull one back in the pit for Japan, but she could only find the arms of Gangl in the Hungarian goal. Hungary then went up the other end and scored through Vanda Valyi to make it 13-10. Hungary’s captain, Rita Keszthelyi then added her third of the game off the post and in before Parkes added number six to her goal tally, and her side’s 15th goal to put clear daylight between the two teams.
Japan suddenly put pressure on Hungary with two quick goals. Miku Koide scored in spectacular style from 8m right on the buzzer, before Arima put the ball past Gangl at close range to bring the score 15-13. Akari Inaba grabbed her fourth to bring the gap back to three after Gurisatti’s goal, but Szilagyi’s breakaway goal was enough to wrap the game up for the Hungarians.
Hungary sit second in Group B, but will top the group if they can beat China on Sunday. Meanwhile, Japan’s last game will be against the ROC.