World Youth Championships: Flawless United States to meet Greece in Final

Ethan Demato’s phenomenal United States will meet Greece in the final of the Women’s Youth World Championships Final tomorrow after dominating Italy in an astounding 18-9 victory.

Jenna Flynn is fast becoming one of the biggest young talents in world water polo, with another five goals this evening putting her at the summit of the goal scoring charts in Belgrade. Julia Bonaguidi (4) and Ava Stryker (3) also impressed on the goal scoring front.

We so often see Italian teams of all age groups employ the use of the drop with the utmost mastery, but tonight the American’s executed that game plan with great remuneration. That denied Italy the high quality chances they needed to test the Americans.

The big difference tonight was the number of times the Italians found themselves a player down, fourteen times, with the Americans converting 10 extra-player situations (71%). The last thing you want to do is give some of Team USA’s top shooters, like Jenna Flynn or Julia Bonaguidi, a cushy chance to score in an extra-player situation. Three Italians were ejected from the game on three major fouls (Sbruzzi, Boldrini and Marchetti).

But there is no getting away from the fact that this United States team were on fire this evening, and will be favourites going into their final tomorrow.

Earlier this evening, Greece defeated Hungary narrowly to book their place in the final. Hungary now await Italy, for the second time in Belgrade, for the Group stages.

Like Greece (2012), the United States haven’t made a Women’s World Youth Championships final since they last won the competition in 2014

Italy 9-18 United States (3-7, 2-2, 2-6,2-3)

Italy: H. Santapaola, G. Zizza, P. Di Maria 1 , M. Leone 1, M. Misiti, E. De March 1, A. Longo 3, V. Sbruzzi 1, L. Papi 2, L. Boldrini 1, M. Marchetti, M. Paganello, O. Sesena

United States: C. Carpenter, R. Gazzaniga 2, G. Rossi, E. Ausmus 1, M. Hawkins, M. Johnson 1 , A. Stryker 3, J. Flynn 5, J. Bonaguidi 4, J. Snyder, A. Knepper 1, E. Woodhead 1, L. Steele

The United States were in an uncompromising mood in the first quarter, rushing to a 7-3 after eight minutes. Giacomo Grassi’s side started promisingly, with Aurora Longo giving the Setterosa a 1-0 lead from a decent swim and then finish. But it soon went downhill, with Italy completely unable to deal with the movement of the Americans on 2m. Team USA subsequently had three penalties put away by three different scorers (Flynn, Stryker & Johnson). Aurora Longo’s second of the quarter, a bullet from 6m, was cancelled out by further goals from Knepper and Bonaguidi; the former was in acres of space on an extra-player situation, while Bonaguidi fired home from 9m on the buzzer.

The game calmed a little into the second sector, with the teams counterpoised. A nice drilled shot from Morena Leone, as well as a tasty backshot at centre from Paola Di Maria for the Italians were soon made redundant by Jenna Flynn’s scooped strike, and a first score in the match for Emily Ausmus.

The game may have lacked for goal action in the second period, but the United States were strikingly clinical in the third to essentially romp to victory. We have come accustomed to Jenna Flynn showing class in front of goal, as she added two more, while Rachel Gazzaniga, who is contributes in most ways for her side, netted twice in a matter of seconds. Julia Bonaguidi and Ava Stryker also netted to secure hat-tricks.

While many games in the last few days in Belgrade have seen miraculous comebacks in the last quarters of the game, there was no such occurrence from the Setterosa.  Scores from Sbruzzi and Longo meant little, as did Julia Bonaguidi’s fourth of the game.

Tomorrows Fixtures

09:00 – 7th Place final –  New Zealand vs Netherlands

17:30 – 5th Place final – Australia vs Spain

19:00 – Bronze medal  – Hungary vs Italy

20:30 – Final – Greece vs United States

Top Goal Scorers

  1. Jenna Flynn (United States) – 26
  2. Serena Browne (Canada) – 23
  3. Iva Rozic (Croatia) – 23
  4. Millie Quin (New Zealand) – 23
  5. Jelena Butic (Croatia) – 22
  6. Morena Leone (Italy)  -21
  7. Aurora Longo (Italy) – 21
  8. Kata Hajdu (Hungary) – 21
  9. Stefania Santa (Greece) – 20
  10. Haru Yamamoto (Japan) – 20

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