LONG BEACH, Calif., June 26. THE FINA Press Commissioin reports that the 2004 FINA Women's Water Polo World League Super Final completed three days of pool play and two teams emerged with perfect 3-0 records.
Russia, the 2000 Olympic bronze medal winners and Italy, the European Champion each went undefeated in their respective Group A & B brackets. These teams will face the second ranked team in the opposite bracket during Saturday's semifinal competition.
In the third day of the World League Super Final competition, the skillful play of the Russian team was still present but often subtle as they struggled with the team from Kazakhstan for two thirds of the game. Perhaps the Russian team was fatigued or maybe holding back a little bit, but they didn't have a easy time of it until the final third of the game.
Kazakhstan looked better tonight than their 0-3 record would suggest. Perhaps they will be stronger for their efforts against the more experienced and accomplished teams from Group A.
On Saturday the Group A champion team from Russia will battle with Hungary, the second ranked team in Group B, in the semi-final competition. The winner of the Rusiia vs. Hungary contest will advance to Sunday's gold medal game. The loser of that game will play for the bronze medal.
World Cup champion Hungary was tested to their limits by Olympic Champion Australia before earning a 5-4 victory in a rugged game. The statistics proved how tough the match was as Australia achieved just one goal from 11 power plays opportunities while Hungary capitalized on two of their eight advantage situations. It is worth noting that Hungary missed two penalty shots. Australia will face Greece on Saturday for the fifth through eighth rankings in the tournament.
Italy, the team with the perfect record in Group B made it look easy with consecutive victories over Hungary, Australia and tonight against Canada. Italy won a spiteful game against Canada 13-8; this game was predicted to be a tough match and the intense costume grabbing was no surprise. There we no goals in the first five minutes of play.
The Italian team captain Carmella Allucci struck with a shot from the top inside in the last half-minute for a one-goal margin to Canada at halftime 6-5. Melania Grego of Italy opened the third period on extra man play to level the game for the third time at 6. Italian coach Pierluigi Formiconi attracted a yellow card and spoke with his hands: "Me?"
Tania Di Mario lobbed the ball over Canada's goal-keeper Whynter Lamarre giving Italy the lead for the first time in the game at 4:52. Italy went on to win 13-8.
In the nightcap, the USA squad made good on a must-win situation against the much improved team from Greece. In the second meeting between the two teams in as many weeks — the last game resulting in a 7-7 tie at the 2004 Holiday Cup — the U.S. pulled off a well-earned 6-4 win to advance to a semifinal game tomorrow against Italy. Greece will move on to face Australia in tomorrow's 4:00 p.m. game.
Tonight's attendance at the Charter Digital Aquatic Center was 1889.
9 points – RUSSIA: 3-0 (def. GRE, 11-8, def. USA, 10-5, def. KAZ, 10-6)
7 points – USA: 2-1 (def. KAZ, 10-4; lost to RUSSIA, 5-10, def GRE, 9-7)
5 points – GREECE: 1-2 (lost to RUS, 8-11, def. KAZ, 11-2, lost to USA, 7-9)
3 points – KAZAKHSTAN: 0-3 (lost to USA, 4-10, lost to GRE, 2-11, lost to RUS, 6-10)
9 points – ITALY: 3-0 (def. HUN, 6-4, def. AUS, 11-8, def. CAN, 13-8)
7 points – HUNGARY: 2-1 (lost to ITA 4-6, beat CAN, 12-7, beat AUS, 5-4)
4 points – CANADA: 1-2 (def. AUS, 12-11, lost to HUN, 7-12, lost to ITA, 8-13)
3 points – AUSTRALIA: 0-3 (lost to CAN, 11-12, lost to ITA, 8-11, lost to HUN, 4-5)
Points are awarded as follows:
3 points for a regulation time victory, 2 points for an penalty shootout, 1 point for a loss.
SCHEDULE OF SEMI-FINAL GAMES ON DAY FOUR: Saturday, June 26, 2004
4:00 p.m. – Game Thirteen
GREECE vrs. AUSTRALIA
5:30 p.m. – Game Fourteen
CANADA vrs. KAZAKHSTAN
7:00 p.m. – Game Fifteen
RUSSIA vrs. HUNGARY
8:30 p.m. – Game Sixteen
USA vrs ITALY
ATTENDANCE FOR DAY THREE: 1889