Netherlands finalist after thriller against Italy

In a packed Pieter van den Hoogenband, the water polo women won 7-6 against Italy in the semifinals. In the final Saturday, Spain, 13-5 too strong for Greece in the other semifinal, will be the opponent. The game starts at 8:30 p.m. and is a reprise of last summer’s World Cup final in Fukuoka.

The score was opened after two minutes when Simone van de Kraats put a penalty throw behind the Italian goalie. In the last minute of the first quarter, the score was tied with a shot from the second line. 

The teams gave each other little, although the Netherlands played strong defensively. Partly due to the good performance of goalkeeper Laura Aarts. More than a minute before the halftime signal, captain Sabrina van der Sloot used a 5 meter to bring the Dutch back on level terms (3-3). 

The game remained exciting until the end. Two minutes before time, Van der Sloot scored from the second line, bringing the margin to 7-5. The Azzurri showed resilience, but the Netherlands held on. After the final whistle, the stadium exploded with joy. A good omen for next Saturday’s final in a sold-out house.

Birthday girl Kitty Lynn Joustra announced with a big smile “no doubt. ,,We are steady. Defensively, Bente (Rogge ed.) was great. As was Laura (Aarts ed.) on goal.” Looking ahead to Spain. ,,We are going to swim out like this, then prepare and move on. With the great crowd behind us, we should be fine.”

Lieke Rogge didn’t score this time, but felt the win was most important. ”I’ve always been confident even though it wasn’t our best game. We had the upper hand although it was very exciting. Against Spain we definitely have to play less passive.”

With that last statement by Rogge, national coach Evangelos Doudesis fully agreed. ”It was a classic between two teams that concede little to each other. The key was in defense. With both teams. We are looking forward to Saturday. With the crowd behind us it will be a great match.”

Netherlands – Italy 25-6 (1-1, 2-2, 2-2, 2-1)

Goals Netherlands: Simone van de Kraats 2, Sabrina van der Sloot 2, Maartje Keuning 2, Lola Moolhuijzen 1.