7th consecutive title and 14th overall for the USA in the World League in Athens!
The 17th World League was completed with great organizational success on Saturday (19/06) in Athens and with the USA retaining the title of the champion team for the 7th consecutive time.
In the grand final of the event, Adam Krikorian's team faced the powerful unit of Hungary, however, they managed to win another gold medal and now they are heading to Tokyo and the Olympic Games with great expectations. Hungary won the silver medal, while Russia won the bronze medal.
First scorer of the Super Final World League 2021: Arima Yumi (Japan)
Most Valuable Goalkeeper: Ashleigh Johnson (USA)
Best player of the Final: Maggie Steffens (USA)
MVP of the tournament: Musselman Madeline (USA)
The final rankings:
GAME DAY 6 REVIEW:
JAPAN - KAZAKHSTAN
Japan, with the only victory in the event, took 7th place in the Women's World League Super Final, in OAKA. The Japanese won 18-10 Kazakhstan in the first game of the last day of the tournament, for the 7th-8th places and are now waiting for their appearance at the Tokyo Olympics where they will be the host country.
With Yumi Aruma leading the way (scored 5 goals and awarded as the MVP of the game) Japan dominated in all areas and increased the difference in the score until the last minute of the game.
Japan, as 7th, took the FINA $20,000 prize and Kazakhstan receives $15,000.
JAPAN - KAZAKHSTAN 18-10
Periods: 4-3, 4-1, 6-5, 4-1
JAPAN (Motomiya Makihiro): Miura, Arima 5, Inaba 2, Ura 2, Iwano 2, Koide, Hashida 2, Niizawa 1, Yamamoto, Kawaguchi, Nishiyama 2, Kudo 2, Shioya
KAZAKHSTAN (Naurazbekov Marat): Zharkimbayeva, Pochinok, Glukhova, Turova 4, Yeremina, Roga, Novikova 2, Murayeva 1, Shapovalova, Khritankova 1, Anossova, Murataliyeva 1, Martynenko
The MVP of the Japanese team was Yumi Arima:
"We are very pleased that we finished the tournament with a victory. The goal now is to appear as best prepared as possible for the Olympic Games that will take place in our homeland, Tokyo. There, the initial goal is to qualify for the quarterfinals of the games. On a personal level, I am very pleased that I was twice the best player in a game. It is a dream and hope at some point to play in a team outside Japan and I prefer Europe as a destination ".
Alexandra Zarkimpaeva (goalkeeper of Kazakhstan):
"These games were a great experience for me and my teammates. Our main goal is to prepare as best we can for our participation in the Asian Games that will help us qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Fukuoka, Japan."
GREECE - SPAIN
A classic European Water Polo fight was the one between Greece and Spain, with strong defenses and alternations in the score. Greece always found a way to equalize the Spaniards until 9-9, but in the last minutes they lost their concentration in defense and the extra man and the Spaniards found a way to take advantage of it and score three unanswered goals taking the victory with the final 12-9.
Power was the key in the third period as both teams wanted to leave with the fifth place after being disappointed at not making the main semifinals. Paula Leiton gave Spain the edge with her favored backhand shot from two meters, then Eleftheria Plevritou netted identical goals from the deep right to give Greece its first lead at 6-5. Garcia and Forca redressed the imbalance and Xenaki made it 7-7; Forca scored from seven meters for 8-7 and with just six seconds remaining, Maria Myriokefalitaki backhanded to level the match heading into the final eight minutes.
Elena Ruiz (ESP) and Nikoleta Eleftheriadou (GRE) traded goals. At 2:08, Anna Espar scored from deep left; Garcia gained her fourth with a high reach for the ball on extra on the left-post position. Greece took a timeout and goalkeeper Ioanna Stamatopoulou went upfront to help in the scoring process, but the ball was turned over, Spain went on the counter and Anna Espar put the ball into an empty goal for 12-9 and fifth place.
The Player of the match (MVP) was the Spaniard Maika Garcia with 4 goals. Spain was 5th and gained 30,000 and Greece got 25,000.
GREECE - SPAIN 9-12
Periods: 1-2, 3-2, 4-4, 1-4
GREECE (Lorantos Theodoros): Stamatopoulou, Tsoukala 1, Tricha, Eleftheriadou 1, Plevritou M., Xenaki 3, Ninou 1, Patra, Siouti, Plevritou V., Plevritou E. 2, Myriokefalitaki 1, Sotireli
SPAIN (Oca Miguel): Ester, Bach, Espar 2, Ortiz, Tarrago, Ruiz 1, Epar 1, Pena, Forca 3, Aznar, Garcia 4, Leiton 1, Sanchez
REFEREES: Tsuzaki Asumi (JPN), Peris Nenas (CRO)
Theo Lorantos (Greek coach):
"It was a strange tournament for us, with a lot of emotions. We played two extremely difficult games in the beginning, against the USA and Spain, with 10 players, due to the punishment of three of our athletes. Then we lost a place in the medals playing against Russia, where we lost in the penalty shootout. Today we played well for three and a half periods and we ruined everything in the end. We made mistakes we shouldn't. Such mistakes are not justified when you want to be on the road to medals. We still need work. Next week of good preparation in Athens with the quality team of Canada. Rest assured that we will do the best for our National team in the future ".
Maika Garcia Godoy (best player of the game):
"We came to Athens to win a medal, but on our way, we found very good teams and the task was extremely difficult. The medal can wait for a few more weeks. I think in Tokyo we can conquer it. Even the USA, which shows an invincible team, can be defeated by us. Greece appeared in the specific games with a new team and with many changes. It played well and is a quality team. Maybe we need more games and hard work."
RUSSIA - CANADA
Alexander Gaidukov's team was again, for the fourth time in a row and fifth overall in the history of the institution, on the third step of the podium of the Women's World League Super Final (they also won one gold and two silver).
The Russians defeated Canada 10-8 in the small final of the 17th Super Final, on Saturday afternoon (19/6) at the OAKA indoor swimming pool and won the bronze medal, making the big upset.
Canada started the match impressively and led 3-0, showing that they will return to the impressive performances they had made in the Group matches. But then, the Russians with a great defense blocked the players of David Paradelo.
Russia managed to balance and from the third period to pass even with 9-5 (the end of the third period), to reach the final 10-8.
Awesome performance by the Russian goalkeeper Eugenia Golovina, while Gaidukov players had pluralism in the attack with top scorer (who also emerged as MVP player) Eugenia Ivanova (3 goals).
The bronze medals and the $ 50,000 cash prize were awarded to the Russian women by Wim Keman of the FINA (Honorary Secretary-General) and the General Secretary of the Greek Federation, Stefanos Avgouleas.
RUSSIA (Gaidukov Aleksandr): Golovina, Bersneva, Prokofyeva 1, Karimova 2, Fedotova, Vakhitova 2, Serzhantova, Simanovich 1, Timofeeva, Soboleva 1, Ivanova 3, Glyzina, Karnaukh
CANADA (Paradelo David): Vulpisi, McKee 1, Crevier 1, Wright 3, Eggens 1, Sohi 1, Bekhazi, Lemay-Lavoie, McKelvey 1, Amorosa, Paul, La Roche, Wright
REFEREES: Teixido Jaume (ESP), Kun Gyorgy (HUN)
Evangelina Ivanova (Russia - best player of the game):
"We are very pleased with the medal and the progress of the team. We started the tournament nervously, but we improved day by day. We analyzed our mistakes and won a medal, a mission for which we came to Athens. I hope in Tokyo the color of the medal is different. The gold. I know there are very good teams, I know that the USA is a very difficult opponent, but that is the goal and the work for the last five years. The top and the gold medal. A dream that must come true. We may have lost in the semifinals yesterday with a nine-goal difference from America, but we will learn from our mistakes. We will go to USA in a few days for a training camp and we will get better. I also congratulate Greece for the organizational success of the games which was clear. I will probably finish my career after the Olympics and after first playing with my team Kinef Kirisi in the super cup final against Olympiacos. I will rest and see what I will do later in my life ".
David Paradelo (Canada coach):
"We started the tournament very well, in which we played six games against the best teams. It was the best possible preparation for the Olympic Games. It was a great experience after two years of absence from races due to the pandemic. Our presence in the last two games against Hungary and Russia was negative. We will fight every game at the Tokyo Olympics. First at the group stage and then in the knock-out fight for a medal ".
USA - HUNGARY
They were the big favorite from the beginning and with great comfort and many times with a show of strength they reached the first place!
The unchallenged National Women's Water Polo Team of the United States of America sealed emphatically its dominance in the sport also in the 17th World League Super Final, which ended on Saturday night (19/6) at the indoor swimming pool of OAKA.
The Americans defeated Hungary 14-8 in the grand final of the tournament and won the gold medal for the 14th time in the institution and 7th in a row.
They proved in another great event that they are the absolute masters of the sport, no one can challenge their superiors, so that they aspire to be forever dressed in... stardust.
The Magyars proved to be a tough opponent against the "beast" and they fought as much as they could from the beginning of the match.
The USA, with Margaret Stephens (4 goals and MVP of the final) and Madeleine Musselman (3 goals, MVP of the tournament) in a big day, but also their goalkeeper Ashley Johnson (best goalkeeper of the tournament) led 9-5, in the middle of the third period.
Hungary, however, managed to improve in defense, find solutions and reduce to one goal, 9-8, 5.01 before the end.
The Americans, as soon as they saw the danger at the moment, reacted decisively and with an amazing 5-0 reached the final 14-8.
The awarding of the trophy, the gold medals, and the cash prize of 100,000 dollars to the American women were made by the Chairman of the Technical Committee of FINA Water Polo Manuel Ibern, the Deputy Minister of Sports of Greece Lefteris Avgenakis, and the President of Greek federation Kyriakos Giannopoulos.
The awards of the silver medals and the cash prize of 70,000 dollars in Hungary were made by the Vice President of the Technical Water Polo Committee of FINA Mark Koganov and the Vice President of the Greek federation, George Afroudakis.
USA - HUNGARY 14-8
UNITED STATES (Krikorian Adam): Johnson, Musselman 3, Seidemann, Fattal 3, Hauschild 1, Steffens 4, Haralabidis, Raney, Fischer A., Gilchrist, Fischer M. 2, Williams, Longan
HUNGARY (Attila Biro): Magyari, Szilagyi, Abel-Antal 1, Gurisatti 2, Valyi, Mate, Illes, Keszthelyi 2, Leimeter 2 Gyongyossy, Rybanska 1, Garda, Kaso
REFEREES: Stavridis Georgios (GRE), Voevodin Arkadiy (RUS)
Steffens Margaret: "We like the color of gold. We are used to it. We will claim it in Tokyo as well. The event was excellent. Well done to FINA for making a safe tournament for the athletes. Congratulations that Greece and this place were chosen. This is where the Olympic Games were born. The final was as difficult as expected."