Sunday, June 8, 2008

USA water polo loses to Australia at DPHS


Despite taking an early lead, the USA men’s water polo national team faltered down the stretch during an exhibition game against Australia at Dos Pueblos High School on Sunday, losing 9-11.
Hot off an 8-5 win against top-ranked Croatia on May 31 and a 6-4 victory against Australia on Saturday, Team USA seemed primed to put the game out of reach early, leading 4-1 after the first quarter despite a quick start from the Aussies.

After Australia controlled the sprint, a quick pass into the hole set led to an equally quick backhander from Jamie Beadsworth that blew past goalkeeper Brandon Brooks with only 20 seconds expired.
The remainder of the quarter belonged to the Americans, starting with a rocket of a shot from team captain Tony Azevedo, who blasted the ball over the right shoulder of the goalie with 6:34 on the clock.
After an exclusion call on the Aussie hole guard during USA’s next possession, Ryan Bailey caught a pass in front of the cage and punched it in from close range.
At the other end of the pool, USA’s Adam Wright blocked a shot from the field during a 6-on-5 opportunity for Australia.
Jeff Powers powered a glancing shot off Aussie goalkeeper James Stanton’s shoulder in front of the cage to bring the score to 3-1 with two minutes left.
After shutting down another man-up opportunity for Australia, Team USA snapped the ball around the perimeter on its own 6-on-5 chance before Azevedo rifled a shot from the top to end the quarter.
However, poor passing and shots that glanced off the cage or sailed high allowed the Aussies to sneak back into the game in the second quarter, bringing it to 5-4 by the end of the first half.
On a man-up situation right off the sprint, USA’s Layne Beaubien launched a shot from the top that went high. Following an exclusion at the other end, Aussie team captain Thomas Whalan squeezed a shot in the lower right corner of the goal.
Two more kickouts on Team USA led to two more goals for the Aussies, while Beaubien made up for his earlier miss by searing a shot into the right side of the goal from nine meters out.
During halftime festivities, officials recognized Virgil Elings for his support of the Chargers, which lent his name to the recently completed Elings Aquatic Center.
As action continued, Australia kept up the pressure in the third quarter, scoring four more points while the Americans only managed one goal.
USA’s lone point of the quarter came during a man-up situation, when Tim Hutten received a beautiful pass from Peter Varrelas on the opposite post and pushed it into the goal.
A driving Pietro Figlioli at the other end caught a crisp pass and rocketed the ball past Brooks, bringing the Aussies within one goal. A skip shot from the top on Australia’s ensuing possession, hitting the crossbar and deflecting down into the cage, evened the tally.
Figlioli pumped in another goal during a 6-on-5 after Bailey was kicked out for a 20-second exclusion period. Australia’s Robert Maitland ended the quarter by stealing the ball, spinning his defender and sprinting the length of the pool before dumping in a cross-cage shot to make it 6-8.
Team USA started the fourth quarter with a promising flurry. After the Americans won the sprint, Bailey drew a four-meter penalty shot and Azevedo sealed the deal with a blast past Stanton.
Australia responded with a skip shot to the top left corner of the cage. During a 6-on-5 at the other end of the pool, USA’s Wright made quick work of the opportunity, netting a goal from the top.
After a double-exclusion on Australia, Powers evened up the score at 9-9 with a shot in front of the cage.
That proved to be Team USA’s final goal as Australia’s Tim Neesham poured in a goal and Sam McGregor sunk a spinning lob to put the game out of reach with 23 seconds left.
Team USA will face Australia again on Tuesday during another exhibition matchup at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks before heading off to Genova, Italy, for the World League Super Final on June 16.


Anonymous said...

Great recap! Except.. penalty shots are from 5 meters now, not 4.

Anonymous said...

You should be a sports writer- you really know H20polo!