The magic of Can Llong, who has never seen his team lose in a final four, led CN Sabadell to their sixth Champions League on a historic day for Spanish water polo. CN Mataró had reached this round undefeated, had won the previous ten matches but lost the most important day, in the whirlwind of emotions that come into play in the final of the very finals. A second set of 1-4 and the mismanagement of the superiors unbalanced the balance on the side of a Sabadell hardened in a thousand battles and with a supersonic squad, despite the final push from Dani Ballart’s men, who had 26 seconds left to play to equalize the game and be able to take it to penalties (8-9).
A ball inside that Sevenich received and turned on his mark, but his powerful reserve cleared it with Laura Ester’s hands and the ball died crying a few centimeters from the goal. At that moment the game was decided, there was barely time for one more possession and this was from CN Sabadell, who had the ball until time ran out like the hopes of a CN Mataró who fell with the honor of the champions. Irene González swam until the final whistle and madness broke out on the CN Sabadell bench, which has done it once again. A legendary team against a Mataró that looked at them face to face until the last second.
From equality to Forca’s blow
The final could be condensed into the first period. Three minutes before kick-off, the players of both teams were ready at their positions, nervous, wanting to eat the ball, the water and the opponent. And so a hectic first quarter passed, an appetizer of what was to come. Anni Espar struck first with a graceful, placed shot to Laura Ester’s right, while triple-Olympic champion Maggie SteffensHe replied with another shot at the squad. There was no need for superiority, both teams had enough quality to find the goal in their attacks. But defenses and sticks prevailed. Ester emerged with an amazing save and gained confidence for the rest of the match. Mataró crashed twice with the sticks, while Sabadell did so twice. The fight was served with a very tactical 1-1, played to the limit of forces.
The first blow of the final was dealt by CN Sabadell. And it would be final. With her double buoy game, she managed to sink the Mataró defense, and her best pitchers appeared. Mati Ortiz, who is not prolific in scoring goals, opened the season with a beautiful chip that he celebrated with rage, while counterattacking Rita Kaszthelyi equalized the score (2-2). Mataró tried to swim fast but caught a concentrated Sabadell, especially in the defense against Sevenich. Without the ability to search inside, their pitchers were under great pressure, they crashed again and again with an inspired Ester, very different from the one in the semifinal match against Orizzonte. The international nodded her head while she denied Maria Elena Sánchez, who she saw as Judith Forca, on two occasions, and Van der Sloot took their shots to the net. The 2-5 was not definitive but it did open an important gap in a game where emotions also play a role.
The spirit of Mataró and the Ester parade
And even more so when Forca herself, Mataró’s nightmare with her whip on her left foot, scored 2-6. Far from falling into discouragement, CN Mataró continued fighting aware that they had to improve their defense and start scoring in their superiorities. They at least managed to stop the bleeding with goals from Van der Kraats and Clara Cambray, but CN Sabadell countered with Nona Pérez’s counterattack. The hosts missed a double superiority and Mataró now crashed with the sticks. The 4-7 for the Can Llong team now seemed almost definitive considering the development of the match and their experience at the time of final player.
And so it happened despite the resistance of a Mataró who died killing and who found a reward for his perseverance. Kesezthelyi, Cambray again counterattacking and Avegno made it 7-8 in the electronic. For the first time he saved those moments of the first quarter, Ballart’s team was in the game, he touched the equalizer with his hands. Elena Ruiz emerged to make it 7-9, but Van der Kraats again gave Mataró assisted breathing. And there came the outcome in the hands of a Laura Ester who grew up and was decisive in the final. The CN Sabadell gene. The champion for the sixth time of the Champions League.