FUKUOKA, Japan. July 27. ITALY'S women retained their world water polo title by beating Hungary 7-3 in todays' gold medal game.
Martina Miceli scored four of Italy's goals to finish the tournament as the leading scorer with 20 while captain Carmela Allucci, Tania Di Mario and Giusi Malato found the net once each.
Hungarian captain Mercedes Stieber, Erzsebet Valkay and Krisztina Szremko scored for the European champions.
Italy took control of the match in the first period with three quick goals. Hungary pulled back to within one midway through the second term but that was as close as they got as Italy surged away to a comfortable win.
"We are so happy to be world champions," Allucci said.
Canada Upsets USA
Canada upset the United States 6-5 to win bronze in the third place playoff.
The USA started out strong, taking a 3-1 lead early in the second period, but the Canadians struck back with three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead. Heather Moody (Green River,WY) tied the game at 4-4 and again at 5-5 before Valarie Dione scored what proved to be the game winner at 4:26 of the final period.
"This is revenge for the US tying with us at the Olympics," said Canadian Coach, Daniele Berthelette. The tie last October in Sydney knocked the Canadians out of the medal round at the Olympic Games.
Moody led Team USA with 3 goals while Nicolle Payne (Cerritos,CA) blocked 9 in the cage.
"It's very disappointing," said Moody. "We weren't able to move the ball. We were definitely focused on what we had to do. In the last time-out our coach
reminded us to focus on our play. There is a lot of things we need to do better, we can be better with our split defense and we need to work on how to attack. Canada played very well today."
Team USA finished with a record of 5-2-1 at the World Championships. Ericka Lorenz (San Diego,CA) scored 14 goals in the tournament, two shy of scoring leader Martina Miceli of Italy. Brenda Villa (Commerce,CA) and Moody each had 13 goals.
"We started two months ago expecting to play our best water polo at the quarter-final game of World Championships," said Head Coach Guy Baker. "We
were prepared to win the gold medal, as throughout the summer, we have been in every final game, be it the Thetis Cup, Canada Cup and the Holiday Cup, but we found ourselves coming up short when dealing with the adversity of not being in the final game here at Worlds. It is a long journey…we have 37 months to Athens and we must learn from this disappointment. All things considered, I still feel we were the best team at the tournament.
"We learned two valuable lessons, sometimes you must beat the opponent and the referee, and two, in sport it is important to come back after adversity. I have enjoyed coaching this team in the short time we have spent together and we have done much better than I expected and we are learning our lessons early in the quadrennial versus later."
Play by Play
Team USA scored two quick goals by Moody and Brenda Villa (Commerce, CA) to take control of the game early. Canada added one goal late in the first
quarter to keep the game close. Coralie Simmons (Hemet, CA) scored another goal in the third to pull ahead 3-1, but the team failed to take advantage
of a power play that could have put them up by three. Canada followed by scoring three in a row, and shot ahead 4-3 in the third quarter.
Moody scored a power play goal from the post to briefly tie the game before Ann Dow connected from the perimeter, putting Canada ahead 5-4.
Moody scored a natural goal at 2 meters to tie the game early in the final period, before Dione returned the favor and scored another goal from the perimeter at 4:26 to go ahead 6-5. In the final four minutes, Team USA missed on a key power play advantage, failed to counter attack a tight Canadian defense, and lost 6-5.
Women¹s World Championship scores:
Australia placed 5th by edging out Russia 8-6. Greece placed 7th by crushing Kazakhstan 7-2. The Netherlands topped Brazil 5-4 and Japan beat New Zealand 6-5 in consolation play.
The USA Men play Olympian Champions Hungary tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in the semi-final round. Hungary was knocked out of medal contention this tournament, the first time since 1994.
United States Water Polo, Inc.