Aug. 8, 2003
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 8, 2003-The U.S. men's water polo team recovered from a slow start to blow Colombia out of the water, 18-4, at the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Aquatics Center in Santo Domingo. Team USA has won all six of its matches in preliminary play, scoring 102 goals thus far.
A brilliant lightning storm served as a nice backdrop for Team USA´s game under the lights against Colombia, but early on the weather was providing the only fireworks, as both teams had slow first quarters. The U.S. scored its first goal just 36 seconds into the game on a player-up bullet by Layne Beaubien (Coronado, CA/Stanford/Olympic Club/Halkida, Crete) from the perimeter, but wouldn't score again until the waning seconds of the quarter. Colombian captain Danilo Orozco tied the score at 1-1 at 2:58 when he skipped a goal bar-in from the outside. With 18 seconds left on the clock, Adam Wright (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/New York Athletic Club) found Chris Segesman (Santa Barbara, CA/Long Beach State/Los Angeles Water Polo) for a score at the post and the U.S. led 2-1.
In the opening moments of the second quarter, Wright appeared to have beaten Colombian keeper Eduardo Toro with a lob shot and though the ball had obviously floated past the line, the goal judge failed to signal it as a goal. Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/Long Beach Shore) negated the missed call less than a minute later when he buried a goal in the low left corner to make it a 3-1 USA lead. U.S. captain Wolf Wigo (New York, NY/Stanford/New York Athletic Club) scored off of a steal just twenty seconds later, giving his squad a three-goal lead. But Colombia was able to net the next two goals on extra-man opportunities and the margin was narrowed to one with 3:28 to go. Jeff Powers (San Luis Obispo, CA/UC Irvine/Newport Water Polo) scored the last two goals of the quarter, one on a turnaround at set, and one on a blind flip shot from the hole to make it 6-3. First half goalkeeper Genai Kerr (Imperial Beach, CA/UC Irvine/Newport Water Polo) nearly broke into the score column himself, winging the ball the length of the pool and hitting the crossbar as the halftime horn sounded.
Colombia struck first in the third quarter, getting a goal from eight meters out by Juan Echeverryzea. As it turns out, it was Colombia's last of the night. Azevedo countered with a long goal of his own at 5:42 and delivered a carbon copy of it at 4:48 to give the U.S. an 8-4 lead. Wigo and Dan Klatt (Fresno, CA/UC Irvine/Newport Water Polo) netted counterattack goals for Team USA, putting team USA in double digits for the sixth straight game at Pan Ams. Powers scored again on a 6-on-5 and Azevedo connected on a five-meter backhand for his third goal of the quarter and fourth of the game to give the U.S. a 12-4 edge heading into the fourth.
Wright scored his twelfth goal of the tournament when he hit from six meters out on another player-up at 5:24 of the final quarter. It was all USA for the remainder-Azevedo with an extra-man lob, Jesse Smith (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine/Malibu Water Polo) bar-in from six, Brett Ormsby (El Cajon, CA/UCLA/Bruin Water Polo) on the counter, Segesman on a lob pass from Wigo, and Omar Amr (Fullerton, CA/UC Irvine/Newport Water Polo) on another counterattack.
It was a nightmarish run for Colombia to take, having been within striking distance at 4-3. But Team USA is playing some of its best water polo in years and remains the odds on favorite to take the gold at this weekend's finals and earn an automatic qualification for next year's Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
"We really started to play better in the second half," said U.S. head coach Ratko Rudic. "I started to rotate the players to get everybody more playing time, but at times, we weren't always disciplined. It is not always easy to maintain your discipline and concentration in every game over the course of a tournament."
Rudic was particularly pleased with his team´s 6-on-5 play, where they shot 5-for-6.
"Our 6-on-5 is getting much better," he said. " We are coming up with more and more solutions against different defenses. Plus, we have great shooters and passers. We´re strong at each position."
Team USA will close out preliminary play tomorrow (August 8) in a 5:15 p.m. game against Argentina. For more information, log on to our official website at www.usawaterpolo.com or the official tournament site at www.santodomingo2003.org.
2 4 6 6 -- 18
1 2 1 0 -- 4
Azevedo 5, Powers 3, Segesman 2, Wigo 2, Amr 1, Wright 1, Beaubien 1, Klatt 1, Ormsby 1, Smith 1
Toro 4, Munoz 0
Brooks 6, Kerr 0
Toro 4, Munoz 0
Referees: Joao Alexander Meyer (Brazil), Mikael Dykman (Canada)