The second day of the women’s tournament in Tokyo got underway with victories for the USA, Australia and Spain whilst ROC and Hungary drew.
On an exciting day of women’s water polo, we saw two teams for the first time at these games: Hungary and the Netherlands. Hungary should probably have won against the Russian Olympic Committee, but could only manage a 10-10 draw, meanwhile the Netherlands started their Olympic campaign in defeat to an impressive Australian side.
In the first game on, the USA had to keep their concentration against a decent Chinese side, while in the last game of the day, Spain just had enough quality to beat Canada.
Australia 15 – 12 Netherlands (3-3, 2-5, 5-2, 5-2) – LIVESCORE
Australia: A. Andrews 3, H. Buckling 3, E. Armit, K. Gofers, B. Knox 2, R. Webster 3, B. Halligan, Z. Arancini 2, M. Kearns 1, L. Mihailovic, A. Ridge 1, G. Palm. Head Coach: P. Mihailovic
Netherlands: M. Megens 2, D. Genee, S. Van der Sloot 2, I. Wolves 1, N. Stomphorst 1, K-L. Joustra, V. Sevenich 1, M. Keuning 1, I. Koolhaas 2, S. Van de Kraats 2, B. Sleeking, D. Willemsz. Head Coach: A. Havenga
Extra Player Shots: Australia 5/9, Netherlands 7/12. Penalty Shots: Australia 0/0, Netherlands 0/0
Australia had to come from behind to defeat the Netherlands in an exciting match in Group A. Playing their first game of the tournament, the Netherlands will be disappointed with their second-half performance despite putting Australia under serious pressure in the first half.
Australia were gritty and determined and find themselves top Group A, winning two games from two.
The Netherlands started well with an excellent backhand goal in the pit from Iris Wolves, but Australia equalised through Hannah Buckling on a double man-up. Sabrina Van der Sloot and Maartje Keuning then gave the Netherlands a 3-1 lead, but Australia’s left-hander, Abby Andrews, had other ideas. She scored two in succession for the Aussie Stingers to level the game up at the end of the first quarter.
Into the second period, the Netherlands pulled away. Firstly, Simone Van der Kraats rifled one in the top right-hand corner before Van der Sloot grabbed her second of the game from a 5m penalty. Lena Mihailovic was then excluded, and Nomi Stomphorst punished the Australians from the right-hand side. The Netherlands then scored another penalty from Maud Megens to take the score to 7-3.
Australia got one back through Zoe Arancini, who scored a silky lob that clipped Debby Willemsz’s right-hand post before dropping in. But Kitty Joustra pushed back Australia’s offensive when she turned excellently in the pit to fire past Australian keeper, Gabi Palm.
The momentum completely shifted in the third quarter. Buckling scored her third goal at close range before Andrews also fired in her third superbly from distance after a 20m swim. Amy Ridge then equalised for the Australians to make the score 8-8 as the Netherlands looked under severe pressure.
Buckling was then excluded from centre-back, giving Ilse Koolhaas an easy finish on the right to make it 9-8 to the Netherlands. But Australia had gained much confidence from their comeback, and Keesja Gofers was unselfish on the counter by feeding four-time Olympian, Bronwen Knox, who was never going to miss. Both sides scored again before the quarter was up – Megens for the Dutch and captain Rowie Webster for Australia.
Van der Sloot grabbed her second of the game on the post, but Australia came back once more via their captain Webster, before taking the lead for the first time in the game thanks to a great shot on the right from Zoe Arancini.
Gabriella Palm then made an unbelievable save from a shot on the post, keeping her side ahead in the game before Australia broke up the other end of the pool and scored. VAR was required to confirm that Rowie Webster’s lob had crossed the line.
The Netherlands, who were completely deflated having led by four goals, couldn’t stop conceding and saw the game slip away. Firstly from Bronte Halligan, before Bronwen Knox sealed the win with a cheeky lob from the pit.
The defeat is disappointing for the Netherlands, but they will still be confident of making the quarter-finals.
Australia can now enjoy four days off before facing Spain, while the Netherlands have less time to prepare for the Spaniards, who they play on Wednesday.
Spain 14 – 10 Canada (4-3, 1-2, 3-2, 6-3 ) – LIVESCORE
Spain: L. Ester, M. Bach, A. Espar 2, B. Oritz 4, R. Tarrago 3, I. Gonzalez, C. Espar, P. Pena, J. Forca 1, E. Ruiz, M. Garcia 2, P. Leiton 2. Head Coach: M. Oca
Canada: C. Wright, J. Bekhazi, A. Crevier 1, E. Wright, M. Eggens 1, K. McKee, G. Sohi, E. Lemay-Lavoie 3, H. McKelvey 1, K. Christmas 2, P. Kindred, S. La Roche 2. Head Coach: D. Paradelo
Extra Player Shots: Spain 6/12, Canada 5/8 . Penalty Shots: Spain 0/1, Canada 0/1
Spain remain unbeaten at these Olympics and were impressive in the last game of the day as they defeated Canada by four goals. They have all but secured their place in the quarter-finals and sit in second place in Group A, behind Australia on goal difference.
Canada fought hard until the end, but they still remain without points after two games. A special mention must go to Canada’s keeper, Claire Wright, who was outstanding. In fact, Canada defended well all game long, but the quality of Spain was too much.
Canada exploded out of the blocks with two quick goals. They took the lead through Elyse Lemay-Lavoie in the pit before Monika Eggens, the captain, doubled their advantage. But Spain steadied the ship with goals from Bea Ortiz and Gaia Garcia to draw level at 2-2.
Kyra Christmas then rocketed a left-handed shot into the roof of Laura Ester’s goal to pull Canada ahead, but Judith Forca had a thunderbolt of her own, as her central shot clattered the underside of the bar before bouncing past Claire Wright. Ortiz’s breakaway goal at the end of the quarter gave her side a 4-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Lemay-Lavoie scored her second of the match and equalised halfway through the second quarter with an instinctive flick-on that beat Ester, but Spain were back ahead before long. Claire Wright could only divert Anna Espar’s shot into her own goal to give Spain the lead back.
Luckily for Canada, Shae La Roche’s hard-driven shot on position four drew Canada level at 5-5. The shot was good but was not as impressive as Claire Wright’s outstanding penalty save from Anna Espar a few minutes later to keep her side on a parity. However, Anna Espar redeemed herself moments later, as she converted right on the buzzer to give Spain a marginal 6-5 lead at halftime.
A beautifully weighted lob at the start of the third quarter by Paula Leiton gave Spain a two-goal cushion, but Lemay-Lavoie netted her third of the game to keep in touching distance. It took a pacy shot from Bea Ortiz, her third of the game, to restore Spain’s two-goal lead. Axelle Crevier scored a delicious floating lob, but Roser Tarrago reinstated Spain’s two-goal lead at the end of the third.
Claire Wright had been fantastic all game, but she was probably at fault when Roser Tarrago’s bounced shot from 7m hit the back of the net. With a three-goal cushion, Spain looked good for the win. Garcia Godoy made her finish at the back post look easy to further increase Spain’s lead.
However, Canada gave everything until the end. Shae La Roche netted on the arc from the left-hand side, before Kyra Christmas scored from virtually the same position on the right-hand side to make it 11-9.
But Spain saw out the game thanks to a hugely deflected shot from Bea Ortiz that beat Wright in the Canadian goal before Tarrago rubbed salt in Canadian wounds with a low bouncing, near-post shot. Hayley McKelvey scored within the last thirty seconds for Canada, but it was merely a consolation as Paula Leiton had the last goal of the game.
Despite much hope coming into these Olympics, Canada have lost both of their opening games. Although they will probably qualify for the quarter-finals anyway, they need to start picking up points soon. They have a good chance of that in their next game against South Africa.
Spain, however, will be satisfied with a well-earned victory. They sit second in Group A, only behind Australia on goal difference. They face the Netherlands on Wednesday
USA 12 – 7 China (4-4, 2-2, 3-0, 3-1) – LIVESCORE
USA: A. Johnson, M. Musselman, M. Seidemann 1, R. Fattal 2, P. Hauschild 1, M. Steffens 1, S. Haralabidis 1, A. Fischer 1, K. Gilchrist 1, M. Fischer 3, A. Williams 1, A. Longan. Head Coach: A. Krikorian
China: L. Peng, X. Wang, X. Mei, D. Xiong, G. Niu 1, Y. Zhai, Y. Lu 1, H. Wang 2, Z. Deng, D. Zhang, X. Chen 1, J. Zhang 2, Y. Shen. Head Coach: Petar Porobic
Extra Player Shots: USA 3/4, 2/4. Penalty Shots: USA 0/0, China 0/0
The first fixture of the day was a game of two halves between the United States and China. It took the second half to ensure the USA maintained their 100% record at these games. The USA really had to work for the points against a dogged Chinese side who are unfortunate to have nothing to show from their first two games.
Two goals in the first quarter from Rachel Fattal, as well as goals from Seideman and Haralabidis, were cancelled out by two from Jing Zhang, Guannan Niu and Huan Wang.
In the second period, extra-player goals from Maggie Steffens and Makenzie Fischer – who scored her first of three in the game, were again equalled by Huan Wang and Yiwen Lu.
The third quarter was cagey and both sides missed chances to take the lead. Six minutes passed without a goal, and it looked like the final quarter would perhaps decide the game, but then the USA scored three in quick succession: a counter-attack from Paige Hauschild, a powerful conversion in the pit from Aria Fischer – before her sister, Makenzie, scored with only seven seconds left in the quarter.
Makenzie Fischer then added a third goal on the breakaway in the fourth quarter to completely knock the stuffing out of China. Xiao Chen’s goal in the pit could not stir a revival as Gilchrist and Williams both added further goals to make the scoreline look comfortable.
With two wins from two games, the USA are definitely through to the quarter-finals, although they will want to keep their unbeaten run up against their next opponents Hungary. China, on the other hand, have perhaps deserved more in both of their opening games, and will certainly fancy their chances in their next fixture against hosts, Japan.
ROC 10 – 10 Hungary – LIVESCORE
ROC: E. Golovina, M. Bersneva, E. Prokofyeva 4, E. Karimova 1, N. Glyzina 1, V. Vakhitova 1, A. Serzhantova, A. Simanovich, A. Timofeeva 1, E. Soboleva, E. Ivanova 2, A. Karnuakh. Head Coach: Alexandr Gaidukov
Hungary: E. Gangl, D. Szilagyi 2, G. Szucs 1, G. Gurisatti, V. Valyi, R. Parkes 1, A. Illes 1, R. Keszthelyi 1, D. Leimeter 2, A. Gyongyossy 1, K. Garda 1, A. Magyari. Head Coach: Attila Biro
Extra Player Shots: ROC 7/13, Hungary 3/8. Penalty Shots: ROC 1/1, Hungary 0/0.
Hungary could not take the maximum points from their first game as they conceded at the death against ROC. In a game that they probably should have won, in which at one point they were four goals up, and in which they led for much of the game, Hungary may regret allowing Ekaterina Prokofyeva to score seven seconds from time to steal a point for her side.
It took six minutes before we saw Hungary’s captain, Rita Keszthelyi open the scoring, but ROC responded immediately with a man-up play converted by Evgeniya Ivanova. Only Dora Leimeter’s penalty with twenty seconds left in the first quarter could separate the two teams.
Hungary then scored through Dorottya Szilagyi in the second quarter to give them a two-goal lead. Elvina Karimova and Anna Timofeeva netted for Russia, but Hungary stayed ahead with finishes from Krisztina Garda, Rebecca Parkes, and another from Szilagyi. Hungary did have a four-goal lead from a perimeter shot from Anna Illes, but Ekaterina Prokofyeva’s penalty ensured Hungary did not pull away. The Russian captain’s first goal of the game made the score 7-4 at half-time.
Goals from Veronika Vakhitova and Ekaterina Prokofyeva pulled ROC within two goals in the third, and the Russians should have grabbed another on a double exclusion, but Alena Serzhanotva could only blaze the shot over the frame of Alda Magyari’s goal. Nadezhda Glyzina’s extra player conversion with virtually the last attack of the quarter reduced the deficit to only one goal going into the final period.
Hungary restored their two-goal lead through Gabriella Szucs – whose bouncing shot crept under the outstretched grasp of Anna Karnaukh, but Prokofyeva grabbed her third goal to claw ROC within one goal again at 9-8.
ROC couldn’t keep Aniko Gyongossy from turning at centre-forward before slotting the ball home, once again giving Hungary breathing space, but Evgeniya Ivanova scored her second with an excellent cross-cage shot into the bottom left-hand corner to give her side a chance at 10-9.
Then, desperate defending and ill discipline crept into Attila Biro’s side, and it cost them a point. ROC’s saviour, Ekaterina Prokofyeva, rescued her side a point with a goal seven seconds from time. Total Player of the year 2018 proved why she is one of the best in the world, getting the goal when the pressure was on.
Despite being close to the win, Hungary cannot be too dissatisfied with a result. They almost definitely would have taken a point prior to the game. They need to ensure this disappointment, however, does not affect their preparations for their next game against the reigning champions, USA. ROC, however, will have a four-day break before they take on the USA.