Greece and USA gunning for youth women’s gold medal

USA ITA photo S.Sandic 27

Greece beat Hungary 10-9 and United States of America walloped Italy 18-9 in the semifinals of the FINA World Women’s Youth Water Polo Championships in Belgrade on Sunday, setting up an exciting gold-medal final on Monday. In the classification 5-9 semifinals, Australia defeated New Zealand 12-5 and Spain overcame Netherlands 9-8. Croatia came from 10-7 to beat Canada 15-13 for ninth position and Kazakhstan claimed 11th spot, winning 12-7 over Uzbekistan.

Greece gave up a five-goal advantage at three-quarter time and was kept scoreless by Hungary in the final quarter before time ran out and Greece was the winner. Hungary was 2-0 and 3-2 ahead in the first quarter before Greece moved level and 4-3 ahead on an extra-man-attack goal by the close of the period. Hungary levelled with a 10m missile, however, Greece had the 6-4 halftime advantage. A 4-1 the third period had Greece well and truly in command. The 10th goal came after Hungary sent its goalkeeper into attack. Greece stole the ball and sent in the moon shot, still with 1:32 on the clock. Consecutive goals at the top of the fourth had Hungary sniffing victory. The third came on counter at 4:01 and now it was 10-8. A penalty conversion at 3:18 drew Hungary within one. The defences took over and the best chance to force a shootout came 10 seconds from time when Tekla Aubeli blasted the extra-player shot into goalkeeper Eftychia Konstantopoulou to close the match. Greece now has a chance to emulate its 2012 result of gold and go higher up the victory dais than the third place four years ago. Hungary, a silver and bronze medallist, will now play Italy for bronze.

Match heroes
Foteini Tricha (GRE) was best in pool with a spectacular five goals when needed most. It brings her Belgrade tally to 15 goals. Panni Szegedi netted three for Hungary. Greece was sharper on extra-man attack with six from 10 compared to Netherlands’ four from 11. This statistic alone proved the difference.

What they said
Eftychia Karagianni (GRE) – Coach
Congratulations to both teams. We played fantastic defence for the first three quarters, but in the last one, we lost our concentration in the offence and the defence also; that’s why the score was like that.”
Foteini Trisha (GRE) – Five Goals
It was a challenging game. I think you can see it in my face. We hit some weak ones, and that’s how we reached our goal, which was the winner.
Marton Benczur (HUN) — Head Coach
It was an amazing game. Greece deserved to get into the final. For three quarters, we played like beginners who started playing water polo two days ago, but it happens; it’s the semifinals. They are young, nearly kids; we have some young players, so it happens. I think it was an amazing game; you could not win all the time. We used to talk about it with the coaches — sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I think we can be proud of ourselves because we did everything we could. Today we were not so good; I think it happened; a much better and more experienced team than us. Congratulations to Greece.”


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