Shanghai, China, June 10.— United States of America will defend its title against North American neighbour Canada in the FINA Women’s World League Super Final gold-medal match at the Match Natatorium here on Sunday.

Canada upset Russia 10-11 with a withering 7-2 second half and a penalty stop in the dying seconds of the first semifinal to earn its second final berth since 2009.

In the other semifinal today, United States of America set itself up for a four-peat and an incredible 11th title overall in this competition with an 8-4 margin over Hungary.

In the classification round 5-8, Netherlands defeated Australia 9-5 and China had to come from behind five times to beat Japan 12-11.


June 11 schedule (finals):

14:30, Classification 7-8, JPN v AUS

15:50, Classification 5-6, CHN v NED

17:10, Classification 3-4, RUS v HUN

18:30, Classification 1-2, CAN v USA


Today's matches: 


Match 18. 15:00, 5-8 Semifinal, NETHERLANDS 9 AUSTRALIA 5

Quarters: 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 3-2

Referees: Marcela Mauss (GER), Tadao Tahara (JPN).

Penalties: Nil.

Extra Man: NED: 2/6. AUS: 2/7.


NETHERLANDS: Laura Aarts, Miloushka Smit (1), Dagmar Genee (1), Catharina van der Sloot (1), Amarens Genee (1), Nomi Stomphorst, Marloes Nijhuis, Brigit Mulder (1), Maud Megens (1), Laura van der Graaf (2), Lieke Klaassen (1), Kitty-Lynn Joustra, Debby Willemsz. Head Coach: Arno Havenga.

AUSTRALIA: Lilian Hedges, Amy Ridge (2), Elle Armit, Bronte Halligan (2), Julia Barton, Alice Williams, Rowie Webster (1), Jessica Zimmerman, Kelly O’Leary, Chloe Barr, Morgan Baxter, Madeleine Steere, Lea Yanitsas. Head Coach: Sakis Kechagias.


Netherlands eased into the play-off for fifth place with a comfortable victory over the youthful Australian team. While the Dutch were more potent on attack and applied pressure defence at the other end, Australia worked hard to stay in touch. It was 1-1 with 28 seconds remaining before Laura van der Graaf struck on extra-man advantage from deep right with just six seconds left on the clock. Australia looked a better team than it had all week, but setting the two metres was proving problematical such was Netherlands’ front marking. Amy Ridge brought the match level a minute into the second quarter with a centre-forward strike at the end of possession time. Two Dutch goals within 90 seconds had the women in orange two up. However, the next 5:16 was scoreless, showing the Aussie Stingers had evolved as a team. Amarens Genee sent in a centre-forward backhand at 5:44 and four minutes later, Lieke Klaassen converted extra-man attack after a timeout for 6-2. Stingers captain Webster, who played her 250th international the previous night, responded on the next attack from the left side of the pool, for a third 2-1 period. Netherlands was well in control. Australia’s inability to feed the centre forward proved crucial on several occasions in the fourth period as the Dutch slipped out to 9-3 through Catharine van der Sloot after the extra-man period; Brigit Mulder from the left and Laura van der Graaf on counter. Bronte Halligan stopped the rot with her second goal on extra-man attack from the top at 2:15. Amy Ridge followed with her second, scoring off a near-post shot at 0:29 for the final score of 9-5.


Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 17, 16:20, 5-8 Semifinal, CHINA 12 JAPAN 11

Quarters: 2-3, 2-3, 4-3, 4-2

Referees: Svetlana Dreval (RUS), Filippo Gomez (ITA).

Penalties: CHN: 1/2.

Extra Man: CHN: ¼. JPN: 1/7.


CHINA: Lin Peng, YaNan Bi, XiaoHan Mei, DunHan Xiong (5), GuanNan Niu (1), Ning Guo (3), YiWen Lu, Cong Zhang (1), ZiHan Zhao (2), SanFeng Nong, Xiao Chen, Jing Zhang, YuTing Xie. Head Coach: DaLi Gong.

JAPAN: Miyuu Aoki, Yumi Arima (3), Yuri Kazama (2), Shino Magariyama, Chiaki Sakanoue (1), Minori Yamamoto (1), Akari Inaba (1), Yuki Niizawa, Kana Hosoya (1), Misaki Noro (1), Marina Tokumoto, Kotori Suzuki (1), Minani Shioya. Head Coach: Makiko Izuo.


One of the closest and most exciting matches of the tournament had Asian neighbours at each others’ throats for all four quarters. The first half was up and down with Japan scoring the opening two goals and China equalising. Late in the period, Japan went one ahead through a skipping shot from Kana Hosoya from about six metres. China regained the lead at the top of the second quarter with a 5m free-throw goal to captain ZiHan Zhao and a penalty strike by Cong Zhang. It was nearly five minutes later before one of the sensations of the tournament, Yumi Arima, regained the lead for Japan with a counter-attack goal and then a heavily defended drive down the bottom right for 5-4 — two goals in consecutive attacks. Yuri Kazama finished off extra-man attack at 0:15 for a commanding 6-4 Japanese halftime advantage. The third period was just as interesting in the way goals came with DunHan Xiong scoring twice from centre forward, albeit set at the 5m mark, to bring it on even terms. Arima scored quickly on a double-extra-man attack for her third and 10th of the week. Ning Guo lobbed for the 7-7 goal with Japanese captain Kotori Suzuki netting from centre forward for 8-7 — five goals in five minutes.  At 1:03, Kazama made it 9-7, but Xiong scored her third centre-forward goal, shovelling in a backhand from five metres to close the gap to 9-8. While it was raining heavily outside with constant thunderclaps, it was raining goals inside. The riveting aspect to the match went to the final buzzer as China turned a one-goal deficit to a 12-10 lead with Xiong gaining her fifth. Misaki Noro brought it back to one from centre forward at 0:51. China went to a timeout at 0:25 in an attempt to contain play. However, the ball was passed wide from the first pass and Sakanoue stole and sprinted up the pool and shoot, only for Lin Peng to block the shot on full time. What a stunning match! Japan tried to use its counter to great advantage and China used its bigger players. Xiong had just one goal before this match and her five-goal effort was awesome and lifted China to victory.

Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 19, 17:40, 1-4 Semifinal, RUSSIA 10 CANADA 11

Quarters: 5-3, 3-1, 2-3, 0-4

Referees: Martina Kunikova (SVK), Nicola Johnson (AUS).

Penalties: RUS: 1/2.

Extra Man: RUS: 2/7. CAN: 6/13.


RUSSIA: Anastasia Verkhoglyadova, Daria Gerzanich, Ekaterina Prokofyeva (2), Elvina Karimova (1), Maria Borisova (2), Olga Gorbunova (3), Alena Serzhantova, Anastasia Simanovich (1), Anna Timofeeva, Tatiana Tolkunova, Veronika Vakhitova, Daria Ryzhkova (1), Anna Karnaukh. Head Coach: Aleksandr Gaydukov.

CANADA: Jessica Gaudreault, Krystina Alogbo (1), Axelle Crevier, Emma Wright (2), Monika Eggens, Kyra Christmas (2), Joelle Bekhazi (2), Elyse Lemay, Hayley McKelvey (3), Christine Robinson, Gurpreet Sohi, Shae Fournier (1), Claire Wright. Head Coach: Haris Pavlidis.


Canada won an extraordinary match in which Russia predominated and then fizzled as the rampant Canadians torched the field with a blistering 4-0 final quarter. Canada might have had the early running, but it was Russia who killed the North American’s chances with a 6-1 burst of eight minutes from the first until the second quarter. It established Russia’s supremacy despite Canada’s fine credentials this week. The scoreline of 7-3 became 8-4 by halftime with Russia looking more polished. That being said, it was Canada who reigned supreme in the third period, putting the first two goals away before Russia struck back with a pair. Captain Krystina Alogbo converted extra-man attack after a timeout inside the last minute and, at 10-7, there was a sniff of a chance. Canada rattled the Russian cage with the first two goals of the final quarter, Kyra Christmas scoring on extra from deep right and Joelle Bekhazi lobbing from deep left on the next attack, narrowing the match to one goal (10-9). At 2:47, the high-scoring Hayley McKelvey finished off an excellent series of passes on extra to level at 10-10 and the air was electric. Thunder rolled in the shape of McKelvey a minute later as she took the lead for Canada with her third goal. Russia was reeling and went to a timeout after five straight goals past its line. The resulting shot was impotent and Canada used up the time, giving Russia the ball at 0:37 seconds. Russia then earned a penalty shot through a foul by Canada’s Emma Wright. Captain Prokofyeva swam up to the line and blasted the ball into the outstretched arm of the ever-reliable Jessica Gaudreault, one of the standout goalkeepers at the tournament. Canada called a timeout and Bekhazi endured a major foul and held on to the ball for a magnificent comeback victory. It was achieved with a 7-2 second half.

Flash quotes:

Haris Pavlidis (GRE) — Canada Head Coach

“We won because of the improvement in our defence. It was our main weapon. In the last two quarters we received only two goals (against). After those first two easy goals (in the final quarter) we had the momentum and we became favourite. We did good work on man down. The girls’ performance in the second half… if we play like this, we can do anything.”

Picture: Russell McKinnon


Match 20. 19:00, 1-4 Semifinal, HUNGARY 4 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 8

Quarters: 1-2, 0-4, 0-2, 3-0

Referees: Diana Dutilh (NED), Liang Zhang (CHN).

Penalties: HUN: 1/1.

Extra Man: HUN: 0/5. USA: 4/8.


HUNGARY: Edina Gangl, Dora Czigany, Dora Antal, Dorottya Szilagyi, Gabriella Szucs, Orsolya Takacs, Anna Illes, Rita Keszthelyi (2), Ildiko Toth, Barbara Bujka (1), Dora Csabai (1), Noemi Somhegyi, Orsolya Kaso. Head Coach: Attila Biro.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Gabby Stone, Maddie Musselman (3), Melissa Seidemann (1), Rachel Fattal (1), Mary Brooks, Maggie Steffens (1), Jordan Raney, Kiley Neushul, Aria Fischer, Jamie Neushul, Makenzie Fischer (1), Alys Williams (1) , Mia Rycraw. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.


United States of America steered through rough waters en route to yet another gold-medal final, leaving Hungary in its wake. Nothing Hungary could do would yield goals, it seemed, while USA had more confidence in the shooting department. Too often Hungary had chances to shoot, but chose to pass off for what may have been a better position. It was not to be for Hungary, playing against a team with so much history, so much power, so much strength and probably so much desire. With the likes of Maddie Musselman on fire, scoring three of USA’s first four goals; Mel Seidemann making a huge effort at two metres with a goal and a blood nose and skipper Maggie Steffens prominent, USA controlled and delivered. Hungary’s first goal came from Barbara Bujke from a backhand at 6:05 in the first period. To go so long in a match, working so hard and not getting a payout, it must have been demoralising. The intensity was there from both teams throughout and Hungary’s defence constantly thwarted USA. The breakthrough for Hungary came with a penalty foul at 5:31, Rita Keszthelyi rising high and making sure of the attempt. It was more than 24 minutes since Bujke’s promising start. Keszthelyi obviously relished the success scoring on the next attack from seven metres, sending off the left post into the far right for 8-3.  Hungary was having fun. Dora Csabai joined the celebrations with a blast from five metres and suddenly Hungary was racking up a respectable score. USA’s foot was off the accelerator and the best part for Hungary was keeping the champion scoreless in the final quarter when USA had kept it scoreless twice.

Flash quotes:

Adam Krikorian (USA) — Head Coach

“We were great on defence tonight and had the intensity and our goal play was — Gabby Stone — was fantastic. (Hungary not an easy team to play against. We stayed focused and tomorrow we play Canada who are playing really well.”

Attila Biro (HUN) — Head Coach

“We didn’t deserve to win despite our play in the last one and a half quarters. USA played much better, more aggressive, more defensive and more goals in the first three quarters. After we could fight for a better result. I thought we would deliver a more difficult game for the US, but we didn’t.”


 Picture: Russell McKinnon