Dutch women’s water polo team wins world title for second time ever

The Dutch women’s water polo team has won the world title in Fukuoka, Japan, for the second time in history. In the final, national coach Evangelos Doudesis’ team defeated the European champion Spain after penalty throws.

In regular time, the game had ended 12-12. The Dutch women lost a 10-7 lead in the last period but showed resilience in the final minutes and led 12-11. Spain equalized that in the last seconds. The Netherlands hit all penalty throws, and the party started on the Dutch side. The players fell into each others’ arms, and Doudesis jumped into the water with his staff to join the celebration.

The Netherlands and Spain also faced each other in the first group match of this World Cup. Then, Oranje won 7-6.

The teams were evenly matched in the final. Spain scored the first goal in the first minute. But Simone van de Kraats quickly scored the equalizer. Brigitte Sleeking then gave the Netherlands the lead, but the Spanish women leveled the score again and then took a 3-2 lead. Via Lieke Rogge and Sabrina van der Sloot, the Netherlands closed the first period 4-3.

The Netherlands had a tougher time at the start of the second period, allowing three goals in a row. Goalkeeper Laura Aarts had to leave her goal during a Spanish outbreak, after which Spain brought the score to 6-4 with a penalty throw. After that, Van de Kraats showed her worth with a goal. In the final phase of the second period, Kitty Lynn Joustra brought the score back to equal.

Spain retook the lead in the third period. But via Sleeking and Van der Sloot, the Netherlands turned the disadvantage around again. The Dutch team had to play with two fewer players in the last minute due to exclusions. But Spain could not take advantage. Maartje Keuning put the Netherlands on 9-7.

At the beginning of the last period, Van der Kraats made the margin even bigger with her third goal. But the Netherlands failed to hold the lead. Spain came back to 11-11. After that, Oranje showed resilience and retook the lead. But in the last seconds, the Spanish equalized again. Then penalties had to decide. Goalkeeper Laura Aarts made one save. When the Netherlands scored the penalty, the title was won.

Oranje took its first gold in Perth in 1991. Today was the Dutch women’s first final since 2015. The Netherlands then lost to the United States in Kazan. The women also won silver in 1986, 1994, and 1998. Last year in Budapest, Doudesis’ team beat Italy in the battle for bronze.

The world title for Oranje is the polo players’ first global grand prize since the 2008 Olympic gold in Beijing. By reaching the final on Wednesday, the Netherlands became the first team to participate in next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

Reporting by ANP

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