Four more European teams cruised into the quarterfinals after preliminary-round play on the fourth day of the FINA World Women’s Junior Water Polo Championships in Netanya, Israel yesterday.
Serbia, Hungary, Italy and Spain join group winners Greece, Netherlands, Israel and Russia in Thursday’s do-or-die quarterfinals.
Greece will play tournament find Serbia, Netherlands will clash with Hungary, Israel will confront Italy and champion Russia will face Spain in what should all be very close encounters.
In the first preliminary match, Italy beat France 19-4, turning at 8-1 and racing through the final quarter 7-1. France offered resistance in the third quarter, but could not keep up with the counter-attacking game of Italy in the final eight minutes. France netted the final goal in the last minute, breaking an 11-minute drought. Sofia Giustini scored four goals for Italy and France’s best was Juliette Dhallin with three.
Spain continued the big scores, beating Germany 18-2, a match in which Germany scored its first a second from halftime and the second inside the final two minutes. Spanish Olympian Elena Ruiz topped the scoring with four goals.
The tightest of the four main matches came when Serbia downed Brazil 11-7. One would have thought Brazil could have flown the flag for South America in the quarterfinals but the four-goal deficit by quarter time had head coach Rafael Hall perplexed and his team’s first goal did not come until the last minute of the half.
Serbia was in control and the 4-2 third period had the match won at 8-3. Brazil scored four in the last four minutes ‚ too little, too late. Hristina Ilic led the scoring with four Serbian goals while Luana Bettini and Leticia Belorio hit two each for Brazil.
Hungary stretched the match secretary’s writing skills with a 19-2 margin over Argentina, thus snuffing any chance America would be represented at the sharp end of the tournament. The 7-0 first quarter led to 10-0 at halftime and 12-2 at the final break. Panni Szegedi blasted home five for Hungary.
In the round 13-16 classification semifinals, South Africa defeated Slovakia 13-10 in a close encounter that had the score level at 4-4 and 5-5 after the first two breaks and South Africa a goal up heading into the final quarter. The match was level at one, three, four, five , six, seven and nine before South Africa raced to 12-9 — the last goal a 12-metre missile from Erin Harty.
Goals were traded and South Africa heads to the play-off for 13th. Slovakia had the 6-5 lead early in the third period, such was the closeness of the match. Anna Thornton-Dibb and captain Jordan Wedderburn netted three each for South Africa with Slovakian captain Anastasija Halocka also scoring a hat-trick.
Uzbekistan had it a little easier against Peru, winning 11-3 with 3-1, 1-1 and 3-1 quarters before swimming away in the final period 4-0. Captain Madinabonu Shermatova continued her excellent scoring run for Uzbekistan in Netanya with four goals while Peru’s Anna Lopez scored twice.
Fifth-day action sees the crucial quarterfinals in which the top eight teams battle for semifinal positions — Greece-Serbia, Netherlands-Hungary, Israel-Italy and Russia against Spain.
The 9-12 semifinals precede the quarterfinals with France against Brazil and Germany taking on Argentina.
South Africa will play Uzbekistan for 13th place and Uzbekistan will face Peru for 15th.
Day 4 match results:
Round 13-16 Semifinals: Slovakia 10 South Africa 13 (4-4, 1-1, 2-3, 3-5), Peru 3 Uzbekistan 11 (1-3, 1-1, 1-3, 0-4)
Preliminary Round: Italy 19 France 4 (4-1, 4-0, 4-2, 7-1), Germany 2 Spain 18 (0-5, 1-4, 0-4, 1-5), Serbia 11 Brazil 7 (4-0, 0-1, 4-2, 3-4), Argentina 2 Hungary 19 (0-7, 0-3, 2-2, 0-7).