In a display of dominance the USA women have defended their Olympic title in Rio de Janeiro on Friday. The gold medal final against Italy was a one-sided affair in which Team USA simply confirmed to be the best of competition again after London 2012. Thanks to an allround team effort, styfling defence and sharp shooting Italy had to settle for a 12-5 defeat taking the silver. Only in the second period the Fabio Conti coached side looked to have found some answers but the response by USA in the second half was even more impressive. Ashleigh Johnson was again rock-solid on goal, eventually voted Tournament Best Goalkeeper by the media, posting nine saves in the win before Sami Hill was allowed to play the final minutes where she fired up her team-mates with two emphatic saves. On the other end the shooting and driving by the Adam Krikorian coached squad proved too much for the Italians. They had their strategy on defence but the movement by the Americans just got through that. From outside shots to drives and the strong centre-forward play of Kami Craig and ocassionally Melissa Seidemann could not be handled. Kiley Neushul earned top scoring honours in the final with 3 goals. Federica Radicchi netted a pair for Italy who were back in the final after their gold in 2004 but had to settle for the silver this time. USA became the first women’s team to defend its Olympic water polo title.
The bronze medal match was a heart-stopping affair. Hungary and Russia played an open, active and most of all balanced match that had to be decided by penalties. Not before Russia tied the score in regulation at the buzzer. Their determination after Rita Keszthelyi had put Hungary up in front 12-11 on a penalty shot with over a minute remaining was to be admired. Tries followed but Hungary held on. In the very final attack Russia got a man-up and in the chaos that followed it was Anastasia Simanovich who drove through the center, got the pass and could score from close range for the dramatic equaliser: 12-12. A nail-biting penalty shoot-out followed with both sides shooting well. Only after 12 converted penalty shots it was Russia goalie Anna Karnaukh saving Hanna Kisteleki’s attempt which ended the contest straight away as the nervous Russian women only could cry of joy, while the Hungarians cried of utter bitterness. Russia tied the nation’s best-ever result with claiming bronze (after 2000) while Hungary settled for 4th place.
Spain took 5th place after beating a dissapointed Australian side 10-12. Sparked by a virtually unstoppable Roser Tarrago who scored 7 goals the Spanish women were able the to recuperate best after dissapointing quarterfinals losses for both teams who had medal hopes before. The game for 7th place saw China ousting host nation Brazil 5-10.
The Media All Star Team, as voted for by the media who have attended the women’s water polo competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was announced to be as follows:
Goalkeeper: Ashleigh JOHNSON (USA)
Most Valuable Player: Maggie STEFFENS (USA)
Arianna GARIBOTTI (ITA)
Rita KESZTHELYI (HUN)
Madeline MUSSELMAN (USA)
Ash SOUTHERN (AUS)
Barbara BUJKA (HUN)
Women Final Round – Friday, August 19 – day 12
Brazil vs. China 5-10 (2-2, 0-2, 0-2, 3-4) – 7th/8th place
Brazil scorers: Chiappini 3, Oliveira 2.
China scorers: Ma 2, Zhao 2, Wang 2, Sun, Song, Mei, C. Zhang.
Hungary vs. Russia 18-19 (3-3, 3-4, 3-2, 3-4; penalties: 6-7) – 3rd/4th place
Hungary scorers: Bujka 3, Illes 2, Keszthelyi 2, Antal 2, Szücs, Czigany.
Russia scorers: Glyzina 5, Lisunova, Prokofyeva, Timofeeva, Karimova, Simanovich, Grineva.
Australia vs. Spain 10-12 (5-4, 2-3, 1-3, 2-2) – 5th/6th place
Australia scorers: Buckling 3, Zagame 2, Webster 2, McGhie, Arancini, Southern.
Spain scorers: Tarrago 7, Garcia 2, Espar, Ortiz, Forca.
USA vs. Italy 12-5 (4-1, 1-2, 4-1, 3-1) – 1st/2nd place
USA scorers: Neushul 3, M. Fischer 2, Fattal 2, Steffens, Mathewson, Craig.
Italy scorers: Radicchi 2, Di Mario, Bianconi, Emmolo.
Men Final Round – Saturday, August 20 – day 13
11.40: Brazil vs. Spain – 7th/8th place
13.00: Montenegro vs. Italy – 3rd/4th place
16.30: Hungary vs. Greece – 5th/6th place
17.50: Croatia vs. Serbia – 1st/2nd place
Time mentioned is local time.