New Zealand has accomplished what it set out to do and put out an improved
performance in game two of the Vodafone Cup in Miskolc, Hungary.
The Kiwis faced the home team in their second international match of the
year, going down 8-20 in the build-up to the Budapest 2017 FINA World
Championships that get underway in 9 days.
A 2-8 first quarter had the Kiwis on the back-foot from the beginning, but
head coach Angie Winstanley-Smith commended her side for competing for the
“I’m really proud of the girls as they turned the game around. We must
improve on our start, but we set goals for today and achieved them for
three quarters” she said.
New Zealand were on par with the Hungarians – 2016 European champions and
Rio Olympics semi-finalists – for periods including 3-3 in the third
quarter until the final seconds.
“It’s our second game in 18 months with a heap of improvement from the
first one; if we continue like this for the next week we will be in a good
place for worlds.”
Despite denying Hungary of a goal on its first attack, the home team
started with an intensity that the Kiwis couldn’t match initially, though
they proved themselves capable later in the match.
The Hungarians were quick and clinical and after going four goals down
early on, the Kiwis found their first goal when Nicole Lewis had front
water in set, forcing Hungary’s goalkeeper to step out and that allowed a
pass from wing-to-wing over to Brydie Pye who scored her first
international goal for 4-1.
Jessica Milicich was influential in goal, denying Hungary of converting on
a number of occasions that gave the Kiwis a boost down the offensive
Emma Stoneman earned an exclusion from a post-up in the second quarter,
where Emmerson Houghton faked the ball and committed the goalkeeper before
popping the pass to Casie Bowry on the post for New Zealand’s second goal
of the game.
A Kirsten Hudson shot on the buzzer early in the second quarter was called
good, before the referee pulled the ball out of the pool and determined
that the shot clock had expired. Goalkeeper Jessica Milicich had the most
memorable moment of the quarter when she saved a penalty shot, and Caitlin
Lopes da Silva scored from the wing in the final seconds of the half from a
man up for 11-3 at half time.
“I’m stoked to have saved a penalty,” said Milicich, “it’s always a great
feeling as a goalie, especially at an international level.”
New Zealand’s best quarter was the third, where they matched Hungary on the
scoreboard (Lopes da Silva 2, Bernadette Doyle) until the final few moments
of the quarter for 15-6.
“We have definitely improved on some areas of weakness from last night
(USA) which is extremely positive. We will continue to build step by step
and focus on the positives against some of these powerhouses of water polo”
A Casie Bowry backhand from centre-forward highlighted the fourth quarter,
and the New Zealanders ended the game with a credible and improved
performance with an 8-20 scoreline.
The Kiwis take on Trans-Tasman rivals Australia on Saturday morning at
4:00am NZST, where they’ll again be looking to build on their earlier
“We have identified that we need to really focus on our start, we cannot
afford to be slow moving forward” said Milicich.
New Zealand clash with the Aussie Stingers for the first time in two years,
last meeting at the FINA World League in Auckland in May 2015. The Aussies
won 10-2, where again New Zealand pieced together three quality quarters
where the score would’ve been 5-2 had they not slumped in the second.
But Saturday’s encounter will see two new teams under new coaches; New
Zealand then led by the now-Hungarian coach Attila Biro.
“We’re looking forward to playing Aussie” said Winstanley-Smith, “they have
a new coach, new game plan, but we will be there giving 100 percent.”
NEW ZEALAND 8 vs. HUNGARY 20
(2-8, 1-3, 3-4, 2-5)
Vodafone Cup – Miskolc, Hungary
NZL: Jessica Milicich, Nicole Lewis, Kelly Mason, Ricci Ferigo, Alexandra
Boyd, Bernadette Doyle (1), Emmerson Houghton, Caitlin Lopes da Silva (3),
Emma Stoneman, Casie Bowry (2), Kirsten Hudson (1), Brydie Pye (1), Antonia
Young. Coach: Angie Winstanley-Smith, Asst: Megan Thomson, Manager: Janet