Canada triumphs against Russia, while the United States, Hungary and Spain record wins in the openers
Canada 12-10 Russia (5-1, 2-3, 2-4, 3-2)
Canada made a big statement in the FINA World League Super Finals by beating the Olympic bronze medals from Rio, Russia. A quick start for the Canadians ultimately gave them a hard-fought victory in an exciting meeting that will give them tremendous confidence the rest of the week.
It did not take long before Canadian captain Monika Eggens grabbed the first goal of the game, nineteen seconds inside. But Russia was right behind, thanks to their captain, Ekaterina Prokofyeva. Canada then had a penalty kick saved by Eggens, but this did not affect her – she grabbed another goal along with Elyse Lemay-Lavoie, Emma Wright and Axelle Crevier to give Canada a four-goal cushion into the second quarter.
Regardless of what Russian head coach Aleksandr Gaidukov said in the interval worked. Two goals from Anna Timofeeva along with a goal in the break for Elvina Karimova put Russia right back in the mix. Only a fine finish from Gurpreet Sohi ensured that Canada had a three-goal lead in the second half.
But a rough and physical Russia was speeding up and making things really uncomfortable for Canada, who despite the bright start showed signs of rupture. Two more from Prokofyeva, another for Karimova as well as an extra player conversion from Nadezhda Glyzina took the score to 9-8 in the final quarter.
But Canada, despite conceding a few goals, had been defensively solid. They would not let it slip away. A great goal from the pit with permission from Gurpreet Sohi and then a VAR-reviewed goal for Kelley McKee – whose shot got Georgios Stavridis to correctly determine that it had crossed the line, giving Canada the breathing space they desperately needed. Although Prokofyeva and Glyzina added their hoists, Shae La Roche settled the game on man-up.
While Russia did not play badly, they will see this as a missed opportunity to get into second place in the group. That is, unless they can find a result against Hungary tomorrow. Canada, on the other hand, are very happy with the well-deserved points and will be more relaxed tomorrow early game against Japan.
USA 16-9 Greece (4-3, 4-2, 4-2, 4-2)
The United States were solid in their opening game as they comfortably fired the host nation Greece.
The United States took the lead through two extra-player conversions – one from Alys Williams and two from Maddie Musselman. Greece then responded with goals from Vasiliki Plevitrou and Eleni Xenaki. Another goal from Musselman and a Jordan Raney man-up finish gave the United States a slight advantage in the second quarter.
The second quarter was clumsy, but the United States managed to increase their lead. Rachael Fattal scored in the break before Williams sent another. Christina Tsoukala thought she had pulled Greece back within two goals at the break, but an excellent finish from Musselman just 1 second before the end of the quarter restored the three-goal lead. While it was only an extra goal that came so late in the quarter after Greece fought so hard to get their goal, it felt like a big blow to the hosts.
The third quarter was a continuation of previous quarters – the United States was slowly and professionally added to their numbers. Steph Haralabidis grabbed his second while the formidable Melissa Siedemann converted a well-crafted man-up. Greece could only convert two goals in the quarter from two of Plevitrou’s – Eleftheria and Margarita, against a stubborn US defense.
Maggie Steffens netted twice last quarter, as did Rachael Fattal – to watch the game out. The United States meets Kazakhstan tomorrow, while Greece takes on Spain on day two.
Spain 20-11 Kazakhstan (5-5, 7-1, 2-0, 6-5)
Today’s first match was between Spain and Kazakhstan. The game ended with a decisive victory for the Spaniards 20-11 due to a fierce second quarter that saw the Kazakhs lose 7-1 with goals from Roser Tarrago I Aymerich, Paula Leiton Arrones, Judith Forca Ariza and two from both Anna Espar and Alejandra Aznar Diez.
The game was an even competition during most of the game. The first quarter ended 5-5, with Anna Turova netting three times for Kazakhstan, while Spain found inspiration from the two goals provided by the final player in the match, Paula Crespi.
However, the second quarter was a nightmare for the Kazakhs, who collected six goals in a row, two of which were extra-player conversions, while one was from a penalty kick.
Kazakhstan managed to stop bleeding goals in the third quarter, which only limited the Spaniards to an extra player conversion from Forca Ariza and a neat counter-attack from Bea Ortiz.
While the match had gone to Kazakhstan in the last quarter, they fought gallantly and gave Spain and good run to ensure they had to stay focused until the end. Turova, one of Kazakhstan’s big plus points from the game, added another goal while Darya Roga scored her third goal of the game. But two more goals for Ortiz and an excellent finish from the pit of Crespi ended the game nicely for the Spanish side.
Next for Spain are hosts Greece, while Kazakhstan hope the United States are not at the top of their game tomorrow.
Hungary 26-10 Japan (7-1, 5-4, 5-1, 9-4)
The Hungarians started their tournament with a dominant display with a victory of six teenagers over the Olympic hosts, Japan.
Unlike Kazakhstan, who saved their 7-1 defeat in the second quarter, Japan had to suffer this blow at the start of the game. While Miku Koide scored a nice goal from the middle forward to 2-1, tthree goals in the quarter from Hungary’s captain Rita Keszthelyi demonstrated that her team – which finished first in the European qualifying rounds for these finals – is ready to compete for the title and an Olympic medal in a few months.
In the 2nd quarter, goals from Dorottya Szilagyi, Vanda Valyi, Rebecca Parkes and two from Dora Abel-Antal were enough to cancel Japan’s conversions from Yumi Arima, Yuki Niizawa, Maiko Hashida and Kyoko Kudo.
While Japan had matched Hungary in the second quarter, the break broke break for the Hungarians – with the third quarter mimicking the first. Parkes sent two goals, Valyi and Keszthelyi scored again, with Greta Gurisatti taking part in the action.
The final quarter was a formality in which Rebecca Parkes helped herself to three goals. The UVSE striker played excellently and seemed to score ten, but had to settle for seven. Hungary will rest lightly tonight and prepare for tomorrow’s major clash with Russia.
All the official match sheets and information as well as schedules are available by clicking on this link