The Netherlands, 2018 European Water Polo Champions in the women’s category
After two consecutive finals without being able to taste glory, the women’s team from the Netherlands was crowned as the new champion of the European Water Polo Championships after defeating Greece in a spectacular match that finished (6-4) in their favor. The team coached by Arno Havenga, who had already defeated the Greek side in the group stage of the competition (by one goal back then) have claimed the gold medal deservedly after culminating a fantastic participation in the competition by winning six games and only drawing once, against Italy, in seven games.
With a superb Laura Aarts guarding their goal, as she only received 33 goals throughout the competition, and with the powerful arms of their main attacking threats, Sabrina van der Sloot and Maud Megens, the Netherlands team proved to be too much for their Greek rivals, who have once again taken the silver medal home, just like they did in the 2010 and 2012 editions of the competition. The defensive unit of the “orange” has been their main weapon in tonight’s match as the well organized and prepared side came to Barcelona 2018 at the right moment to win the golden medal.
The partial scores in each quarter of tonight’s match were as follows: (2-1,2-2,1-0, and 1-1). The Netherlands were narrowly leading on the scoreboard throughout the whole match. In the third quarter they have been able to enjoy their largest margin as they were up by two goals as the whole team put in a strong performance to secure the victory. Afterwards they were able to administer their lead as they leave the competition with the gold medal and the continental title.
The Netherlands team closes a stellar season in which they were runners up in the Superfinal of the World League, only behind USA, with a huge win at the Picornell Pool. This is the fifth time that the Netherlands have claimed the title at the European Water Polo Championships. With the gold medal that they acquired tonight, the Netherlands catchup to Italy as the winningest teams in the history of the women’s competition. The “orange” hadn’t won the continental crown in 25 years, as their last victory was back in 1993.
Adding on, the Netherlands team dominated the award ceremony by claiming the most important individual awards. Laura Aarts was chosen as the best goalkeeper of the tournament, while Sabrina van del Sloor was the MVP of the competition. Meanwhile, the Spanish goal machine, Bea Ortiz, took home the top scorer award, after scoring 25 goals in the tournament.
The podium at Barcelona 2018 was packed with superstars. Alongside the Netherlands and Greek stars, the Spanish team was on the podium to put the bronze medal around their necks and to pose for the official photos.