Greece, Holland, Hungary, Spain and Russia Unbeaten After Two Days of Women’s Play at 2020 European Championships

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Spain continued it's winning ways Monday at the 2020 European Championships, beating Italy 16-10 to remain unbeaten. Photo Courtesy: Hiroyuki Nakamura / FINA

The second day of women’s play was at the 34th LEN European Water Polo Championships in Budapest’s Duna Arena saw a continuation of mismatches between European powers and not-ready-for-prime-time programs. Host Hungary won big, as did Greece, the Netherlands and Russia.

2020_european_champ_logoIn the day’s most competitive match, Spain broke out to a 9-4 lead in the first half then kept Italy at bay in a 16-10 win in Group B play. Roser Tarrago was brilliant for the Spaniards, scoring seven goals on 14 shots while Maica Garcia Godoy chipped in three scores. Italy was led by Roberta Bianconi and Arianna Garibotti who had three goals apiece.

On Wednesday, the Spaniards will face Israel, a 22-3 loser to The Netherlands. The Dutch, defending champions, got four goals apiece from Simone Van De Kraats and Vivian Sevenich as they converted on 23 of 38 shots against beleaguered German keepers Felicitas Saurusajtis and Ronja Kerssenboom. One bright spot in an otherwise dismal 23-3 drubbing was the play of Pauline Pannasch. The 20-year-old lefty scored two of three German goals.

Germany will face France on Wednesday; the French were 10-6 winners over Israel. Estelle Millot had four goals for France, which used a 4-0 second period run to subdue the Israelis, playing in their second-ever European Championship. Miriam Bogachenko had three goals while Ayelet Peres registered nine saves.

[On The Record with Arno Havenga, Dutch Head Women’s Water Polo Coach]

In the other bracket, the difference on Monday between winners and losers was a whopping 58 goals, led by Hungary in a 20-2 victory against Slovokia. Rita Keszthelyi-Nagy, the Hungarian captain, scored six goals as the home squad connected on 55% of their shots. Slovokia’s Miroslava Stankovianska tied the match at 1-all early in the first before Hungary scored 12 unanswered goals, a streak snapped by Daniela Katlovska late in the third period.

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Russia’s Ekaterina Prokofyeva. Photo Courtesy: Sherie Key/USA Water Polo

The Hungarians will have a much tougher game on Wednesday, when they face Ekaterina Prokofyeva and Russia, a 27-2 winner over Serbia. Prokofyeva, last year’s Total Waterpolo Total Player of the Year, was in the water for a mere 38 seconds against the Serbs, which will make her well-rested for a contest sure to bring out an animated crowd.

She wasn’t needed; Anastasia Fedotova (7 goals) and Alena Serzhantova (6 goals) plied on against a Serbian team that hit on only 2 of 35 shots.

Serbia will face arch-rival Croatia on Tuesday; the Croatians were 18-3 losers to Greece on Monday. Eleftheria Plevritou and her sister Margarita combined for four goals on five shots. Croatia, which has already given up 43 goals, got single scores from Domina Butic and Emmi Miljkovic.

After two days of group play the standings are:

Group A                                          Group B
Russia (2-0)                                        Netherlands (2-0)
Hungary (2-0)                                    Spain (2-0)
Greece (2-0)                                       Italy (1-1)
Croatia (0-2)                                      France (1-1)
Serbia (0-2)                                        Israel (0-2)
Slovakia (0-2)                                    Germany (0-2)

The Russians, who have already outscored their rivals 58-4, are among the favorites to advance to the finals. This would be welcome result after a disappointing fifth-place finish in Barcelona last year. Like their Hungarian opponent Wednesday—as well as the Greeks, Dutch and Italians—to qualify for the Olympics this summer the Russians need to either win gold in Budapest or finish second to Spain, which has already clinched a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Whoever does not qualify at the 2020 European Championships will get another crack at an Olympic berth in March at the women’s European qualifications in Italy (March 15-22).

The men’s bracket will start play tomorrow (Tuesday) with Romania versus the Netherlands, Slovakia versus Montenegro, Malta versus Spain, Germany versus Croatia, France versus Georgia, Serbia versus Russia, Turkey versus host Hungary and Italy versus Greece.

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