It’s the all-important second round of the women’s water polo competition at Aspire Dome on Saturday with the four second-round matches to find the last four quarterfinalists. In earlier matches, the bottom four teams have their semifinals for the classification 13-16.
How They Went Today
There were four matches in the Classification 1-12 crossovers with the winners going to the quarterfinals.
In the first encounter, world and European champion Netherlands beat China 16-14. in a thriller. Greece destroyed Kazakhstan 24-5 after Anastassiya Tsoy was ejected for violence in the third quarter. Australia took the third spot, downing Great Britain 20-8. Canada took the final spot with a rugged 14-12 margin over New Zealand. Canada lost goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault on a red card in the third period, but with substitution.
In the classification 13-16 semifinals, France downed Brazil 16-8 and South Africa defeated Singapore 20-6. They will meet in their respective finals on Monday.
Classification 1-12 Crossovers:
Match 30, New Zealand 12 Canada 14
Canada became the last team to qualify for the quarterfinals, earning a shot at Spain. It was built on solid play and sharp attacking, excellent decision-making and an energy only slightly above the Kiwis.
New Zealand was working well as a unit, but Canada was punching at every opportunity. The opening two goals by Canada were nullified by the Kiwis and then a three-goal run took Canada 5-2 ahead at the first break.
Emmerson Houghton scored her second to open the second quarter while a sixth different Canadian responded — Shae La Roche. Serena Browne knocked in a second and Verica Bakoc plucked one from well outside for 8-3. That margin proved an almost insurmountable forcefield. The feverish style of the match (the winner would stay in Olympic contention) continued with Bernadette Doyle converting extra and Axelle Crevier replying. La Roche and Kaitlin Howarth traded goals and Hayley McKelvey hit the post on penalty to close the half at 10-5 in Canada’s favour.
Crevier made it 11-5 from close in. New Zealand went to a timeout, head coach Angie Winstanley-Smith was yellow-carded and soon after Canadian goalkeeper Jessica Gaudreault was red-carded for being over-zealous but able to be substituted. New Zealand converted the penalty and scored three of the next four goals, Howarth with two and Doyle with her second. Crevier split the Kiwi scoring with Canada going to the fourth period 12-9 ahead.
Canadian captain Emma Wright sent in her second at the top of the fourth and the four-goal margin was most welcome. Houghton rose high in the left-post position to score, followed by a Verica Bakoc penalty strike for 14-10.
Emmerson Houghton was the star of the match with five goals to lift her tally to 12 in Doha. Howarth netted three. For Canada where the goals were spread around, Crevier had three and Bakoc, Wright, Browne and La Roche had two apiece.
Canada’s 10-4 advantage in the second quarter was where the match was won. Everything was a sideshow to that earlier play.
Stats Don’t Lie
Canada went 44 per cent to 35 on shooting and managed two from seven on extra while the Kiwis made the most of the exclusions with six from 15.
Canada has the team to push Spain in the quarterfinal. New Zealand could have been there, but will now need to look at Singapore next year to redress this difficulty.
What They Said
David Paradelo (CAN) — Head Coach
On if you are happy to be in the quarterfinals:
“No, we need to be in the next stage (semifinals).”
On New Zealand as an opponent:
“New Zealand, they’re strong. We were getting a lot of opportunities early and they were clawed back in and showed a lot of grit and determination, their relentlessness and they really wanted the game as much as we did, so kudos to them for that. We permitted them to claw back into this game, so a bit of indiscretion on our part and failing to put away some easy opportunities.”
On losing your goalkeeper on a red card:
“It’s incidents that happen. Just trying to get away from someone who was trying to drown her and she got called for it, which is unfortunate, because situations like that, it’s a double, so we will take it. Then Clara (Vulpisi) came in and not warm and mid-period, which is not easy to do. She suffered a bit on the first few shots, but came back in the third and fourth, so that was good.”
Verica Bakoc (CAN) — Two Goals
On why Canada was better tonight:
“There were times when the game was going well and some calls weren’t going in our favour, but kept our heads up, stuck to our game plan and kept fighting until the very end. That showed at the end of the game. We look at statistics and we struggled in some areas we shouldn’t have, but it came to attitude and fight and who wanted it the more in the end.”
On any thoughts of playing Spain in the quarterfinals:
“Not much thought. We’re taking one game at a time, so right now we were focusing on New Zealand. We have tomorrow to reset and prep for that. We’re excited. The tournament is starting to get exciting now. It’s the best part of it and it’s a new opponent so we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”
Match 29. Australia 20 Great Britain 8
Australia made the quarterfinals for the 17th consecutive time, at the expense of Great Britain. It was a straight-forward run for the Aussie Stingers who are getting better with more competition, experience that will be sorely needed when they will play Olympic champion United States of America.
Australia sprinted to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, gifting a centre-forward backhand goal to Great Britain’s Toula Falvey, 11 seconds from the first break.
Goals were traded to start the third period and three more Australian goals took it to the final break, Bridget Leeson-Smith grabbing the last two — the second on penalty.
Abby Andrews, so strong all match, scored her fifth and sixth goals in the fourth as British players Cecily Turner and Falvey, with her second, took the score to 18-6. Australia hit the wood on penalty and Cutler converted the counter from wide left. Leeson-Smith buried the Stingers’ 20th goal just inside the final minute. A British timeout earned a goal on the buzzer to Lotte van Wingerden from across the English Channel.
The 6-0 start. It broke Great Britain’s back.
Stats Don’t Lie
Australia shot at 65 to 36 per cent, scored four from five on extra and defended five from six.
Australia goes into its 17th consecutive quarterfinal, against USA, and Great Britain may have missed a chance to qualify for Paris 2024 but has learnt from the experience and put the team firmly back into the international spotlight.
What They Said
Abby Andrews (AUS) — Six Goals/Player of the Match
On playing through to the quarterfinals:
“I’m pretty elated. We knew we had to put a strong foot forward for tonight. Obviously, we haven’t played Great Britain in this group, for sure, so we didn’t really know what they were going to throw at us, so we made it our pact that we would come out strong as we’ve struggled in the last few games.”
On positives from tonight:
“We were quite technical, lots of balls in the centre; we kept our wings really deep and played a really clean, open attack and we defended great. We got heaps of steals, lots of blocks and there are things we can tidy up on, but other than that, pretty good.”
Nick Buller (GBR) — Head Coach
On making the second round:
“I was proud the way they played. Australia is a terrific team and we are just arriving on the international scene after 10 years out, so I’d hate to guess the number of international caps for the Australian team, but for us it’s around 10 or less (per player. Aussie skipper Zoe Arancini has more than 300). In the Olympics we saw in 2012 it was 16-3 (against Australia), so we will take this result as our starting point and onwards and upwards.”
Lotte van Wingerden (GBR) — Goal Scorer on Final Buzzer
On what went through her mind in those last seconds:
“I saw there were only three seconds left, so, yeah, I knew I had to shoot, so when it went in I was really happy. Very happy with the goal.”
On being happy how Great Britain played:
“In the beginning we were struggling with the hard press from Australia, but I think in that last quarter we drew, so we can be happy about the last quarter of this game.”
Match 28. Kazakhstan 5 Greece 24
Greece did not expend too much energy — mentally or physically — in denying Kazakhstan any chance of making the top eight. The mountain was made steeper for Kazakhstan as goal-scorer Anastassiya Tsoy was sent for violence at 5:33 in the third period, meaning Greece had four minutes one player up after converting the initial penalty foul. Greece was 15-3 at that stage anyway.
Greece rightfully deserves to be in the top echelon and by leading 8-2 at the quarter and 12-2 by halftime, the writing was on the wall early. Eleni Xenaki, Vasiliki Plevritou and Eirini Ninou scored twice each.
Tsoy opened the third-quarter scoring and Ninou on penalty and Maria Myriokefalitaki from centre forward, had the match at 14-3. Then a lot of things happened. Firstly, Greece took a penalty shot and the referees decided to go to VAR to check a previous action. It took seven-eight minutes for the decision to be aired definitively as 10 was excluded on violence, which was a little tricky as she had gained three major fouls in the first half and was sitting inactive on the bench. She was sent from the pool. The review clearly showed that No 12 committed the violent action. However, it was some time for an extra review and 12 was ejected — Tsoy. No 10 — Viktoriya Khritankova, returned to the bench. An interesting sight to see these two pass in opposite directions. The clock was wound back and the initial penalty was erased.
Back to the action. A new penalty shot was taken and then four minutes of player down eventuated with Greece taking advantage with four goals. Greece added another to close the period at 19-3.
Ninou ended up with four goals for Greece and four others gained four goals.
It was not the violence foul. The match was already being won by that stage. The quarter-time score of 8-2 said it all.
Stats Don’t Lie
Greece naturally won the extra-player count with nine from 12 and Kazakhstan made two from six. In the overall shooting, Greece was 71 per cent and Kazakhstan 19.
Greece will go to Paris 2024. That’s what should happen and by today’s effort the stars are aligning. The young Kazakhs now need to gain as much experience as possible in the remaining two matches.
What They Said
Vasiliki Plevritou (GRE) — Three Goals
On being a tricky match:
“We expected to be like that. We have to be serious in every game; first of all to ourselves and then to everybody what we can do. We knew it would be easy ,but we have to be careful, like in these games something can happen and be a tighter game, although I think we did good and we are ready for the next.”
Viktoriya Kaplun (KAZ) — Goal Scorer
On the tough opponent:
“We played as a team so we know the physicality is not on the same level as the Greek team.”
On if the team is getting better with each match:
“We are a very young team. For the next match it is all about the win. We are eager to win.”
Match 27. Netherlands 16 China 14
China did its best to unseat Netherlands from it world No 1 pedestal, but the Dutch held on for a two-goal victory. It was a sparkling match by the Chinese and shows where women’s water polo is pre-Olympics.
Thrills came from the opening whistle with goals aplenty and unusually no team led by more than one goal for the entire half. Netherlands started in front and by the halftime buzzer, Netherlands was in front, still, at 8-7. In between times, the score was locked at every number to seven. Four of the eight Dutch goals came from the two centre forwards. Nong Sanfeng threw three for China, including an eight-metre sizzler, four seconds from time.
It was 3-2 to the Dutch in the second quarter as an edge had been established. Vivian Sevenich grabbed a pair at centre forward with the second a snap backhander, 23 seconds from time. Earlier, Simone van de Kraats added a second from deep right.
Netherlands stepped up a level in the last and gaps in the Chinese defence started opening. The speed of the Dutch also proved critical. Goals were traded to 11-9 with Sleeking scoring the first and third of those and Chinese skipper Zhang Jing converting two extra-player situations. Lola Moolhuijzen drilled from the top and after Yan Jing backhanded a goal for China and 12-10, Moolhuijzen had a penalty attempt rejected. Lu Yiwen brought it back to one goal with Maartje Keuning responding immediately to close the period at 13-11.
Sevenich and Iris Wolves shifted the balance to four early in the fourth and China had to play huge catch-up. It marked the moment when Netherlands’ world crown was not so shakey. Lu and Deng Zewen tried their best to unseat the Dutch with Deng’s shot into an open goal cleaned up a mistake by the goalkeeper who did not get to a rebound in time. The ball was whipped 10m across the pool to the outside and Deng obliged. Bente Rogge released the pressure valve at 1:15 and despite Lu replying at 0:54 and China having a timeout, Netherlands was safely through to the quarterfinals where it will meet Hungary.
Simone van de Kraats was player of the match. Sleeking, Wolves and Kitty Lynn Joustra finished with three goals each for the Dutch but it was Lu who was on fire China with five goals including two in the last quarter as the threat to the Dutch was real.
From 10-9 to 12-9 in the third period. The first seven numbers were tied, but those two goals took time and settled the team.
Stats Don’t Lie
Little separated them in the statistics with the Dutch going three from four on extra and the Chinese three from five. Overall shooting favoured Netherlands 50 to 47 per cent.
Netherlands survives and has to tackle Hungary for a semifinal spot while the Chinese will be buoyed going into the 9-12 play-offs.
What They Said
Evangelos Doudesis (NED) — Head Coach
On the closeness of the match:
“Definitely pushed for four periods. They pushed us to our limits, so definitely not our best performance ever, but they were also brilliant today.”
On how you will recover for quarterfinal:
“I think we have one day to recover. We are ready to play the next game. It was a good chance for us to be pushed. China was very good day. Nothing else. No extra comment.”
Juan Jane (CHN) — Head Coach
On a spectacular Chinese performance:
“They played well, especially in offence. All they need is more training. In Olympics, I believe China will play correct.”
On this match being excellent preparation for Paris 2024:
“In China, we train many times together but not play other teams. We need more games. This is a good project and play many, many times outside of China many top teams. For Paris, the dream is to play correct and later the dream is easy.”
Classification 13-16 Semifinals
Match 26. Singapore 6 South Africa 20
South Africa lifted itself out of the bottom play-off with a cruisy performance, showing that matches improve teams.
South Africa went 3-0 up and 4-1 with Singapore keeping in the picture with the third, sixth and seventh goals by the first break. Jingxuan Yap scored the first two and Celeste Wan, a first-day scorer, made the third.
South Africa went out to 6-3 with a fifth and sixth new shooter. Singapore called a timeout and converted the play by Heather Lee. Then, South Africa went on the rampage while closing the back door. Amber Penney scored a second with a long slide from the left; and Ruby Versfeld sent in two for 9-4 at halftime.
Esilhe Zondo scored a pair to start the third quarter and Yanah Gerber brought up another two for 13-4. Versfeld backhanded in her third from two metres and South Africa had a 14-4 advantage at the final break.
South Africa was equally clinical in the fourth with goals to Gerber for a third; Versfeld with her fourth; Penney with a second; Boati Motau with her first in Doha and Nicola McLeod with her third. Singapore picked up a penalty foul and Ting Koh converted for the first Singaporean goal in 15 minutes. Singapore was looking more threatening and captain Abielle Yeo unfortunately had her penalty attempt block before Melissa Chan scored in the last second on extra and well outside to bring up Singapore’s sixth goal and her first in Doha. Chloe Meecham converted South Africa’s last penalty attempt — her second — to bring up 20 goals just before Chan’s heroics.
Amber Penney was named player of the match with her three goals for the victors while Versfeld amassed four and MacLeod three. Yap was Singapore’s best with two.
South Africa went from 6-4 to 19-4 — unstoppable.
Stats Don’t Lie
South Africa sent in two from three on extra and 53 per cent shooting. Singapore replied with three from six and 32 per cent on shots.
South Africa has the experience and will need every gift for the final clash with France. Singapore has learnt so much and should put up strong resistance in the 15th-place play-off.
What She Said
Melissa Chan (SGP) — Goal Scorer
On scoring Singapore’s last goal — and her first in Doha — one second from fulltime:
“Definitely very, very honoured and very serious for me. I’ve seen it on TV watching everyone score. It’s an amazing experience to be able to do it myself here; in previous games I saw my team-mates do it and I was really inspired by them.”
On was there a huge smile on her face afterwards:
“Yes. Almost once in a lifetime for me.”
On the team morale and its first visit to a world championship:
“We’re definitely trying to find a learning experience in every game. Every minute is another experience for us and even though we faced many defeats here, we’re finding what we can learn for our training and future events.”
Match 25. Brazil 16 France 8
France, sixth at last month’s European championships, is not too happy to be playing in the bottom four on Doha. France made sure that past misdemeanours would not be tolerated as it made a statement early and continued through to victory and onward to the classification 13-14 encounter on Monday.
By opening with two goals, France had the front foot and had a strong 4-1 advantage at the first break. Brazil could have been much closer had it converted at least one of the two penalty attempts, one being blocked and the second hitting the cross bar on the buzzer.
Stefeny Azevedo sat up at the top and scored to open the second quarter for Brazil. France scored three in a five-minute period to turn at 7-2. Orsolya Hertzka scored from deep left and then on counter before Ema Vernoux converted a six on four, just 26 seconds from the long break.
Brazil may have opened the third quarter through Jeniffer Cavalvante, but France thundered in the next five for 12-3.Brazil took note and decided to give it a go, scoring five of the next six and stopping France on penalty. However, France had control and scored four goals in three minutes to secure the victory.
Hertzka and Vernoux topped France’s scoring with four each. Captain Leticia Belorio, so often in the thick of it, or Brazil with her four goals and goalkeeper Isabella Souza dragged down 11 saves.
France going from 7-3 to 12-3 and then Brazil going 5-5 after that.
Stats Don’t Lie
France went five from six on extra-man attack and Brazil three from seven. France shot at 52 per cent and Brazil 35 per cent.
France is too good for this level and will make sure of 13th place as atonement ahead of Paris 2024. Brazil will be hoping this was a speed hump and 15th is its target on Monday.
What They Said
Aurelie Battu (FRA) — Goal Scorer
On sixth in Europe and now playing for 13th at worlds, so what is the motivation:
“Motivation is the Olympics. Now we have no motivation.”
On the team thinking more about Paris 2024:
“We lose against China and now we play for the last positions and I think we deserve better.”
On what has not gone right in Doha:
“I don’t know. Maybe playing European champions and after the world championship is a lot of games and after a big, big championship also with the club, I think we are not in better shape. I think we need to work on the mentality to come here and come into the game. We are the best and we can do this.”
Leticia Belorio (BRA) —Captain/Four Goals
On not playing up to expectations:
“No it was not what we expected. We expected to do a better match.”
On taking a long time to get into the match:
“We went into the match too relaxed. It took us a while to get into the game. We missed a lot of opportunities, missed two penalties. We missed one on one and we were too relaxed.”
On being in top form for Monday’s final classification match:
“It was very important for us to suffer this loss, so we can actually get better for the next one. We hope to do a better match and not finish last.”
Day 9 Schedule
Match 31. 09:00. Classification 13-16, BRA v SNG
Match 32. 10:30. Classification 12-13, FRA v RSA
Match 33. 12:00. Classification 9-12 Semifinal, CHN v GBR
Match 34. 13:30. Classification 9-12 Semifinal, KAZ v NZL
Match 35. 16:00. Classification 1-8 Quarterfinal, USA v AUS
Match 36. 17:30. Classification 1-8 Quarterfinal, ESP v CAN
Match 37. 19:00. Classification 1-8 Quarterfinal, HUN v NED
Match 38. 18:30. Classification 1-8 Quarterfinal, ITA v GRE