2023 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
WOMEN’S POOL PLAY
Water polo is officially underway in Fukuoka! The first day of action featured initial women’s pool play matches. There are four groups at these World Championships: Group A, Group B, Group C, and Group D. Within each group, the four teams will play each other in one match, after which the standings in each group will determine seeding for the next round of the tournament.
Here is a breakdown of the four groups:
- United States
- South Africa
- New Zealand
Below, you’ll find a screenshot of the current standings in each of the four groups, as well as a brief breakdown of the first slate of matches in each of the groups.
The first set of matches in Group A saw the USA take on China, while France and Australia went head-to-head. The American squad handled China in clear 15-6 decision, earning the first win in Group A’s pool play. The match was close through the first quarter, where the Americans outscored China 1-0. After that, however, it was a very different match. The 2nd quarter saw the Americans notch 6 goals to China’s 2, sending the USA into halftime with a 7-2 lead. Facing an uphill battle, China slowed down the U.S. scoring barrage from the 2nd quarter coming out of halftime, but they weren’t able to get their offense going. After being held to 3 goals in the 3rd quarter, the USA came back with another 5 scores in the 4th quarter, sealing their victory.
While the U.S. v. China match was a lopsided affair, Australia and France had a great battle, seeing Australia emerge with the win in a 10-8 decision. Both squads had a balanced attack going in the 1st quarter, each scoring 3 goals. The 2nd quarter ultimately ended up being the difference maker in this match. The Aussies managed to put the ball in the net 4 more times in Q2, while France only netted 2 goals. While that left the score at halftime at a tight 7-5 in favor of Australia, France would not be able overcome the deficit. The French did what they needed to do in the 3rd quarter, outscoring Australia 2-1. Australia found one last burst, however, and scored 2 more goals to France’s 1 in the final quarter. That left the final score at 10-8 in favor of Australia.
The next set of matches will see the U.S. take on Australia in a battle of the 1-0 teams. China and France will also play, as each team looks for their first win of pool play.
In Group B, the first matches saw Netherlands defeat Spain, and Israel grab a win over Kazakhstan. As was the case in Group A, the first two matches in Group B saw one blowout decision and one very tight match.
The blowout came in the Israel/Kazakhstan match, where Israel soundly defeated Kazakhstan, 17-6. Things were pretty close in the 1st quarter, where Israel scored 5 points to Kazakhstan’s 3. A 6-1 run by Israel in the 2nd quarter sealed the deal though, and Kazakhstan went into halftime down 11-4.
Meanwhile, Netherlands/Spain was a classic back-and-forth battle. Spain got out to the early lead, scoring 2 goals to Netherlands’ 1 in the 1st quarter. They maintained the lead through the half, as both teams scored 1 goal in the 2nd quarter. The defensive battle broke just a bit coming out of halftime, and Netherlands evened the score by notching 3 goals to Spain’s 2 in the 3rd quarter. Going into the 4th quarter in a tie game, Netherlands managed to squeak out the win.
The next set of matches will see Kazakhstan take on Netherlands and Spain go up against Israel.
Out of the four groups, Group C really sticks out. The first two matches saw Italy play Argentina, while Greece played South Africa. The reason this group sticks out is because both matches were massive blowouts.
Italy v. Argentina was the first match. The Italians jumped out to a 10-1 lead in the 1st half, and, believe it or not, things actually got worse for Argentina in the 2nd half. When the match ended, Italy was up on Argentina 27-1, marking a resounding victory for the Italian squad.
Greece v. South Africa was nearly identical. The Greek team jumped out to a 13-2 lead at halftime, and, like Italy, they shut South Africa out in the 2nd half. When the final whistle blew, Greece exited the pool with a 24-2 victory.
We won’t get to see Italy play Greece for a few days, however. The second set of matches in Group C will feature Italy v. South Africa and Argentina v. Greece.
If Group C was the least balanced of the four groups in the first set of matches, Group D was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Both matches in Group D, New Zealand v. Japan and Hungary v. Canada, were 1-point games.
New Zealand took on Japan in the first match of the day. In a precursor 0f what was to come, the teams were tied at 5 points apiece at the end of the 1st quarter. New Zealand took a slim lead heading into half after outscoring Japan 4-3 in the 2nd quarter. With the game very much still in reach, Japan responded in the 3rd quarter, evening the score by beating New Zealand 5-4 in that quarter. With the match tied at the start of the 4th quarter, New Zealand just managed to get over the hump, netting 4 goals to Japan’s 3.
The Hungary v. Canada match hit some different beats. Hungary jumped out to an early lead, beating Canada 5-3 in the 1st quarter. From there, it was a matter of holding the lead for the Hungarian squad. After a 2-2 2nd quarter, they headed into halftime with a 7-5 score in favor of Hungary. Canada came out with a strong Q3, picking up 2 more goals to Hungary’s 1. It wouldn’t be enough, however, as Hungary and Canada each scored 3 goals in the 4th quarter, leaving the Hungarians with a 1-point lead.
The next set of matches in Group D will see Canada and New Zealand face off, while Japan and Hungary will play each other as well.