LONG BEACH, June 26.
Day 1 – 23 June Group RESULTS
1. HUN – ITA B 16:00 4-6
2. GRE – RUS A 17:30 8-11
3. AUS – CAN B 19:15 11-12
4. USA – KAZ A 20:45 10-4
Long Beach, CA –
All eight Olympic women's water polo teams started up their Athens preview in Long Beach, Calif., on Wednesday, with (Game Four) the gold-medal favorite United States squad pocketing a solid 10-4 win over Kazakhstan on the first day of the FINA Women's World League Super Final per staff reports released by USA Water Polo. The tournament runs June 23-27 at the Charter All-Digital Aquatic Centre in Long Beach.
The FINA World League calls for nine-minute quarters, making the game a good eight minutes longer than a typical international game. After 27 minutes of play, the well-conditioned and balanced Team USA had the game in hand and plenty left in the tank as it cruised to the largest margin of victory of opening night in front of 1,695 fans. "We did well with the conditioning aspect of the game," U.S. coach Guy Baker said. "But we'll be able to get a better grasp of that as the week goes on."
Team USA opened things with a 5-on-6 stop care of U.S. goalie Nicolle Payne (Cerritos, CA/UCLA/New York AC) and then struck with a sharp counterattack goal by Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA/Stanford/Commerce) in front of the cage off a pass from Natalie Golda (Fullerton, CA/UCLA/New York AC) at 6:05. Kazakhstan got on the board at the 3:45 mark after a pass out from set to Irina Tolkunova, making it 1-1. Ellen Estes (Novato, CA/Stanford) boosted the USA back ahead by getting to the ball at two meters and flipping it across the goal line with 49 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The U.S. women got off to a good start in the second quarter by converting its first 6-on-5 chance with a score by Margie Dingeldein (Merced, CA/Stanford) off a pass from Ericka Lorenz (San Diego, CA/UC Berkeley), but their next power play failed on a bar-out. A Kazakh turnover fed into a potent U.S. counterattack that culminated in a near-side score by Thalia Munro (Santa Barbara, CA/UCLA) off a pass from Villa, making it 4-1 USA with 2:43 to go in the half. Robin Beauregard (Huntington Beach, CA/UCLA/New York AC) let fly a catapult of a shot from the perimeter with 14 seconds left, and nailed the upper left corner for a healthy 5-1 U.S. lead for the second half.
Lorenz ballooned Team USA's lead to 6-1 with a rocket 6-on-5 score taken waist-high from the top. Kazakhstan finished off a power play of its own a minute later to put the score at 6-2 USA until Golda blazed in an even score to put some more wind in the United States' sails. Golda tallied her second to open the fourth, grabbing her own rebound and then drilling in a score from two meters out for an 8-2 USA lead. Estes then took it upon herself to do a little more damage, drawing an ejection on the counterattack and then finishing off the power play from set to notch her second on the night. Kazakhstan posted a pair of 6-on-5 scores in the fourth quarter to match the USA's pair, though Team USA had one more counterattack left in it. Villa hit Amber Stachowski (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/UCLA) on the counter, and Stachoskwi deposited it in the back of the net for the 10-4 lead with 35 seconds left.
Team USA and Kazakhstan will be in opposite brackets in Athens, but the next match-up against Russia presents an important preview of a feisty bracket-mate of Team USA's.
For more information on Team USA, go to http://www.usawaterpolo.com/.
Team USA 2 3 2 3 – 10
Kazakhstan 1 0 1 2 – 4
Team USA: Golda 2, Estes 2, Villa 1, Dingeldein 1, Munro 1,
Beauregard 1, Lorenz 1, Stachowski 1
Kazakhstan: Gritsenko 3, Tolkunova 1
Team USA: Payne 7
Kazakhstan: Rytova 9
Player Advantage Scoring
Team USA: 4 for 9
Kazakhstan: 3 for 8
Italy 6, Hungary 4: No. 5 Hungary proved some stiff competition for the No. 2 Italians in the opening match of the day. There was little scoring in the first half, thanks to a number of field blocks and stifled power plays on both ends. By the third quarter, offense picked up, though the game remained tight until Italy eventually broke away in the fourth quarter. The Italians took a two-goal lead in the fourth quarter, and warded off Hungarian comeback attempts to secure the win.
Hungary 1 0 2 1 – 4
Italy 1 0 3 2 – 6
Hungary: Szremko 2, Steiber 1, Valkai 1
Italy: Zanchi 2, Grego 1, DiMario 1, Allucci 1, Musumeci 1
Russia 11, Greece 8: No. 3 Russia's two-meter play, sharp passing and early 6-on-5 opportunities lifted it to a comfortable lead in the first half over ninth-ranked Greece. Russia was 3-of-4 on player advantages in the first half and added a few even scores to that effort for a solid 6-1 lead for the second half. Greece ate into the lead in the third, but couldn't overcome the Russians down the stretch. Russian goalie Valentina Vorontsova was also a force in the cage, turning away a hefty 13 Greek shots before giving way to Natalia Kutuzova in the fourth quarter.
Greece 1 0 4 3 – 8
Russia 3 3 2 3 – 11
Greece: Kozompoli 2, Moraiti 1, Asilian 1, Oikonomopolou 1, Roumpesi 1, Karagianni 1, Melidoni 1
Russia: Salimova 4, Konukh 3, Bogdanova 1, Vasileva 1, Smurova 1, Petrova 1
Canada 12, Australia 11: The world's No. 7 team, Australia, put the No. 4 Canadians on the ropes in the first quarter, thanks to a pair of goals from Elise Norwood. But Canada responded with stiffer defense and some sharper offensive production to pull within one for the fourth quarter and then tie it up to turn up the pressure in the final four minutes. Elise Norwood had three goals for Australia by halftime, almost single-handedly boosting the No. 7 Aussies into early control against the No. 4 Canadians. Emma Knox backed things up for Australia with some stubborn goalkeeping, but the Aussies' two-goal lead melted away in the fourth quarter. That brought up a penalty shootout, where five shooters from each team took turns taking shots from five meters out — according to FINA World League rules. The score remained tied after the first five shooters, bringing up a sudden-death round. Melissa Rippon led things off for Australia, but Canadian goalie Whynter Lamarre got a hand on this one, and blocked it out for a save. Valerie Dionne was Canada's shooter, and she slotted her shot past Knox to give Canada the win at 12-11.
Australia 4 1 0 1 – 5 – 11
Canada 1 2 1 2 – 6 – 12
Australia: Norwood 3, Cuffe 2, Heuchan 1, M. Rippon 1, Brooks 1, Castle 1, Fox 1, Gynther 1
Canada: Dionne 4, Campbell 3, Dow 2, Dewar 1, Begin 1, Arpin 1
Points Table — Day One
Group A Standings Games Win Loss Tie G + G - G.D. Pts.
USA 1 1 0 0 10 4 +6 3
Russia 1 1 0 0 11 8 +3 3
Greece 1 0 1 0 8 11 -3 1
Kazakhstan 1 0 1 0 4 10 -6 1
Group B Standings Games Win Loss Tie G + G - G.D. Pts.
Italy 1 1 0 0 6 4 +2 3
Canada 1 1 0 0 12 11 +1 2*
Australia 1 0 1 0 11 12 -1 1
Hungary 1 0 1 0 4 6 -2 1
• – FINA World League rules assess 2 points for a win via shootout, 3 for a regulation win.