© www.lpwp.fr 15 Mar French cup of league for Marseille By: Tim Hartog National Leagues, France Pro A league Beating Montpellier in the final of the French “Cup of League – Trophy Emmanuel Ducher” (8-6), Marseille won the first title at stake this season in French water polo. Served by the exceptional organisation set up by Strasbourg, the event brought together a large audience for the official opening of the renovated of the Kibitzenau pool. Bringing together teams from all divisions and lasting several months; then reduced to only the teams of the first two levels; then abandoned; then recreated and limited only to the Elite clubs, and once again stopped ... the history of the water-polo French Cup has experienced many ups and downs over the past fifteen years. The French League, which has taken over the sport’s management of the Pro A championship for two years, had at heart to give importance to the Cup. After a mixed first test last season in Paris, this year organization was awarded to Strasbourg, with a new competition format and a place in the Euro Cup for the winner. The emotion was also very palpable in the pool since the Cup of League is officially named " Trophy Emmanuel Ducher" in honor of this great French player who passed away two years ago. Last year, his young son, Maxence, had handed the cup to the winner, but the young boy also died of illness in August 2014, at the age of five! On Friday, the first quarterfinals offered little surprise, since Marseille sprayed Noisy (21-2) in a one-sided match with, on Marseille side, not less than ten different scorers! For the fourth time this season, Nice met Sète, and had no difficulty in qualifying for the semi-final (15-6). Led by Mathieu Peisson, absolutely awesome, Montpellier, new championship leader, had to wait till the second half of the match to get rid of Lille, who played without its top scorer Robin Lindhout (10-6). One had to wait the last match of the day to attend a real battle whose stake went far beyond this single Cup of League, since Strasbourg and Aix-en-Provence compete fiercely for a semi-final berth in the championship. Indeed, even despite Strasbourg has always led the scoring the match was always uncertain, so that the inevitable Oscar Carrillo gave some hope to the Provencal players by reducing the gap to one goal sixteen seconds from the end. But in front of an enthusiastic audience Strasbourg preserved its deserved victory (9-8) who sent them the semi-finals. Enzo Khasz (Marseille) in action (www.lpwp.fr) Unlike last year the clubs eliminated in the quarterfinals were still in competition, and competed for places 5 to 8. Aix-en-Provence was heavily favorite against Noisy, both because of their relative rankings in the Pro A League and their respective performance the day before. Indeed led by Constantine Kubada and Oscar Carrillo (3 goals each), the Southerners led the score most of the game. But only most…, because, with only two minutes to go, two goals from Bruno Chastagner allowed Noisy to take the lead (11-12), and get an unexpected victory (12-13). In the match between Sète and Lille, the two youngest goalkeepers of the French Pro A were particularly highlighted. During the match, Billy Noyon (21 years-Sète) and Clément Dubois (20 years-Lille), made many stops, so that the two clubs were still tied at the end of the game (10-10). It took two rounds of penalties to finally decide between Lille and Sète, when Clement Dubois stopped the shot of Tomislav Primorac, and gave the victory to Northerners (16-17). In the first semi-final between Montpellier and Nice, defenders have largely taken the advantage over attackers. Indeed, five minutes from the end of the match, the score was only 2-2 ! In this context, the two goal-keeperss, Gabor Jaszberenyi (Montpellier) and Lukas Kozmer (Nice), multiplied stops. The intensity went up a notch in the very last minutes of the match, when both teams were engaged in an absolutely breathless crossover. Nice thought having won, thanks to twos goals of David Babic (4-5), but Mathieu Peisson saved Montpellier by equalizing thirteen seconds later (5-5). In the penalty shoot-out, Arnaud Jablonski shooting on the pole made the happiness of Montpellier, qualified for the final, like last year. In the other semi-final Marseille, humiliated in its pool last week by Strasbourg (9-9), took a big revenge in the own venue of Strasbourg. The Provencal players left no chance to their opponent, taking control of the game from the beginning and never releasing the pressure. Strasbourg played with courage and tenacity, but had to quickly give up. The final score (13-6) clearly reflected the impotence of Strasbourg, but especially the determination of Marseille. Marseille against Montpellier in the final (www.lpwp.fr) Sunday for the ranking matches, Lille easily beat Noisy (16-6) for fifth place, while, for seventh place, Aix-en-Provence got rid of Sète, a team definitely very disappointing during this Cup (15-11). For the bronze medal match, Nice, who had already lost the Cup won last year, hoped to stay on the podium, but Strasbourg did not intend to let them do. Yet, thanks to a brilliant Lukas Kozmer in its goal, Nice led at mid-match (3-1), leaving the local audience speechless. But the quartet Sutic-Racunica-Bratic-Blary (9 goals) reversed the trend in the last two periods, so that Strasbourg took the lead in the 23rd minute (5-6) and was not going to give it up. Nice got angry (two exclusions for misconduct), but could no longer make doubt the Alsatian, in full confidence, supported by a thrilled audience. The final victory (7-11), well deserved confirms the great current form of Strasbourg and its new status in the French water polo. The final was played between the two current "best enemies" of the French water-polo, both seeking to win their first Cup of Leagu. Only undefeated team in the Pro A League, but only second in the standings behind Montpellier, Marseille wanted to gain a sporting an psychological advantage in preparation for the championship game in April, as far as the finals. The last two French champions played at the same level for two period (2-2 mid-game) in a match of great physical intensity. As usual on big occasions, Gabor Jaszberenyi made miracles in the goal of Montpellier, even stopping with both hands a penalty of Ugo Crousillat. Still, it was not enough to contain Marseille and young Guillaume Dino and Mathias Olivon made a first difference in the third period (4-2). The break was made and Marseille was not going to pass up a chance, especially as players from Montpellier sometimes lacked of solidarity late in the game. The final score (8-6) offers the first trophy of the season for Marseille. However, regarding the performance of Montpellier, the outcome of the championship is still very uncertain. French Cup of League-Trophy Emmanuel Ducher RESULTS. Quarter-finals Nice – Sète 15 – 6 (4-1, 3-2, 5-2, 3-1) Montpellier – Lille 10 – 6 (2-1, 1-0, 5-1, 2-4) Marseille – Noisy 21 – 2 (6-0, 5-1, 6-0, 4-1) Strasbourg – Aix-en-Provence 9 – 8 (1-1, 4-2, 3-1, 1-4) Semi-finals (1 to 4) Montpellier – Nice 10 – 9 (1-0, 0-1, 1-1, 3-3, penalty shoot-out : 5-4) Marseille – Strasbourg 13 – 6 (5-2, 3-2, 1-1, 4-1) Semi-finals (5 to 8) Aix-en-Provence – Noisy 11 – 13 (2-1, 3-6, 2-0, 4-6) Sète – Lille 16 – 17 (2-2, 3-3, 2-4, 3-1, penalty shoot-out : 6-7) Finals For the 1st place : Marseille – Montpellier 8 – 6 (1-1, 1-1, 3-2, 3-2) For the 3rd place : Nice – Strasbourg 7 – 11 (1-1, 2-0, 2-6, 2-4) For the 5th place : Lille – Noisy 16 – 6 (5-1, 2-3, 3-1, 6-1) For the 7th place : Aix-en-Provence – Sète 15 – 11 (5-2, 4-5, 3-1, 4-3) INDIVIDUAL AWARDS Best goalkeeper : Rémi Garsau (Marseille) Best player : Mathieu Peisson (Montpellier) Best scorer : Oscar Carillo (Aix-en-Provence) 11 goals Thanks to Eric Dupont.