Kinef was the first squad to secure their spot in Final Four of Women’s Euro League, after beating Ugra in both quarterfinal matches by an aggregate score of 34-15. After two victories in two consecutive days, the last year’s bronze medalists became semifinalists for the eleventh time in thirteen years. Top scorer of the quarterfinals was Soboleva who netted seven goals in two games and brought her team one step closer to fulfilling their dream of winning the title for the first time.
The rest of quarterfinal matches were played on March 11.
The defending champions stormed to a stunning 19-11 victory at home over Dunaujvaros. CN Sabadell did not allow the team from Hungary to overcome the three-goal deficit from the leg 1 match. The Sabadell water polo players gave an outstanding performance, netting six goals in both first and last quarter. At any point wasn’t the result even close to a tie as the Spanish team proved too strong for their opponent. After winning by an aggregate score of 31-20, the title-holders are eyeing their fifth title in seven years.
The third semifinalist is Olympiacos. Leg 1 match was not easy for the winner of 2015 Euro League as Padova managed to overcome the four-goal deficit and the match ended in a draw. The audience in Papastrateio Hall, Piraeus, saw Olympiacos play another tough match against Padova water polo players who fought to play in the semifinals for the first time ever. After a balanced first half, during which no team had more than a one-goal lead, Olympiacos went on a break with +1 (5:4). At the beginning of the third period, Asimaki increased their lead to +2. This was the first and the only time one of the squads had an advantage of more than one goal during the leg 2 match. Padova came back strong and led again (6:7) after Galardi, Queirolo and Savioli scored a goal each. Emmolo netted two consecutive goals three minutes before the end. Queirolo scored an equalizer only twenty seconds later (8:8). However, none of the water polo players managed to find the net until the end of the regular time, so penalties were necessary to decide on the third semifinalist. With 10:10 on the scoreboard, after a series of successful penalties, some unsuccessful shots followed. Smit finally brought the lead to Olympiacos water polo players (11:10). Padova’s Savioli then hit the goal post, so Smit’s goal turned out to be crucial for the victory of Olympiacos.
In the last match of the quarterfinal round, Mataro water polo players secured their first ever appearance in F4 of Women’s Euro League. They defeated 2016 runner-up UVSE Budapest, 12:8 (aggregate score – 21:18). By scoring five goals in the last quarter of the leg 1 match, the squad from Spain managed to bring the deficit down to one and implied an exciting battle in the leg 2. They’ve made history thanks to the absolutely dominant play which kept their rival not only from leading but also from equalizing the score. Mataro even had a five-goal advantage on two occasions during the last period. Top scorer of the game Laura Lopez netted four goals, and Zoe Elise Arancini found the net three times to lead their team to the historic advancement to Final Four.
Due to this amazing achievement of Mataro squad, the 2017 Final Four is slightly different than last year. Women’s Euro League semifinalists in 2017 are Kinef, Sabadell, Olympiacos and Mataro. Final Four is scheduled for April 28-29.
The four defeated teams – Ugra, Dunaujvaros, UVSE Budapest and Padova – will play for the LEN Trophy on April 14-15.
LEN Women’s Euro League – quarterfinals
February 25, 2017
Ugra KHANTY MANSIYSK (RUS) – Kinef KIRISHI (RUS) 9-13 (3-3, 0-2, 2-4, 4-4)
March 11, 2017
CN Sabadell (ESP) vs. Dunaujvaros (HUN) 19:11 (6:3, 4:2, 3:4, 6:2)
Sabadell: Ortiz M. (1), Neushul (3), Ortiz B. (2), Tabani (3), Cordobes (3), Garcia (1), Espar (2), Domenech (4)
Dunaujvaros: Szilagyi (3), Menczinger (2), Gurisatti (2), Horvath (2), Valyi (1), Garda (1)
Olympiacos PIRAEUS (GRE) – Plebiscito PADOVA (ITA) 11:10 (2:1, 3:3, 1:2, 2:2 – 3:2)
Olympiacos: Manolioudaki (1), Avramidou (2), Asimaki (1), Emmolo (5), Bianconi (1), Smit (1)
Padova: Barzon (1), Savioli (2), Queirolo (3), Dario (2), Galardi (2)
La Sirena MATARO (ESP) – UVSE BUDAPEST (HUN) 12:8 (4:3, 2:1, 4:2, 2:2)
Mataro: Aranha (1), Arancini (3), Cambray (2), Gibson (2), Lopez (4)
UVSE: Czigany (1), Keszthelyi (3), Toth (2), Csabai (2)
February 24, 2017
Kinef KIRISHI (RUS) – Ugra KHANTY MANSIYSK (RUS) 21-6 (6-2, 5-0, 6-2, 4-2)
February 25, 2017
DUNAUJVAROS (HUN) – CN SABADELL (ESP) 9-12 (4-1, 0-2, 4-8, 1-1)
UVSE BUDAPEST (HUN) – La Sirena MATARO (ESP) 10-9 (5-3, 2-1, 2-0, 1-5)
Plebiscito PADOVA (ITA) – Olympiacos PIRAEUS (GRE) 10-10 (2-3, 1-3, 2-3, 5-1)