Aug. 9, 2003
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, August 8, 2003-The U.S. men's water polo team outswam and outshot Argentina tonight (August 8) to earn a 13-2 win and a No. 1 seed in this weekend's Pan American Games semifinals at the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Aquatics Center in Santo Domingo (D.R.). Team USA is now 7-0 in the tournament and is two wins away from a gold medal and an automatic berth in next yearīs Olympic tournament in Athens, Greece.
Appropriately, it was two-time Olympian (1996, 2000) and team captain Wolf Wigo that opened the scoring for the U.S., albeing late in the first quarter, hitting on a skipper from the right side with seven seconds left. It was the only goal for either team in a quarter where the U.S. shot 1-for-7. Argentinian goalkeeper Hernan Mazzini made saves on three of Team USAīs first four shot attempts.
With 5:35 to go in the second quarter, Omar Amr (Fullerton, CA/UC Irvine/Newport Water Polo) scored on a counterattack from the perimeter to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/Long Beach Shore) started finding his range in the second, connecting from seven meters out at 3:08 and backing it up to eight meters for another score at 1:15. Azevedoīs goals sandwiched the first of only two on the day by Argentina and the U.S. led 4-1 with under a minute to go until halftime. With 41 seconds on the clock, Bruno Testa netted a backhand moving away from the goal just off of the right post to make it a 4-2 game at the break.
Team USA didnīt wait long to start pouring it on in the third. Jesse Smith (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine/Malibu Water Polo) pinballed a goal off of the hands of new goalkeeper Nicolas Bianchi to give the U.S. a 5-2 edge and Wigo tossed in his second goal of the day at 4:44 to make it 6-2, USA. Later in the quarter, USA center Ryan Bailey (Long Beach,CA/UC Irvine/Newport Water Polo) bullied his way inside of the two meter line with the ball before dumping a pass off to Layne Beaubien (Coronado, CA/Stanford/Olympic Club/Halkida, Crete) for an easy score. Chris Segesman (Santa Barbara, CA/Long Beach State/Los Angeles Water Polo) netted what may have been the goal of the night, skipping one in past Bianchi from beyond mid-pool as time expired in the quarter.
Early in the fourth, Azevedo was 1-on-1 with an Argentinian defender on a breakaway before shrugging him off around three-meters, rolling out and finding the back of the net for his third goal of the night. Bailey got into the score column when he caged an extra-man goal with 4:10 to play in the game. Azevedo scored the next two goals of the contest, the second coming on a picture-perfect counterattack pass from USA keeper Brandon Brooks (Honolulu, HI/UCLA/Los Angeles Water Polo) ahead of two trailing defenders. Segesman capped the scoring, going crosscage and bar-in from the right side with 17 seconds remaining in the game.
It was the same old story for Team USA, who has nearly outscored Pan Am opponents by a hundred goals this week (115-19)-all games are merely preparation for the gold medal contest on Sunday (August 10) evening. However, Team USA will have to get there first. Tomorrow (August 9) will be an important contest for the U.S., regardless of the opponent, and head coach Ratko Rudic feels that his troops are ready.
"We'll talk a bit more, but now I want them to be more rested for the next two games," Rudic said. "We are prepared and there's nothing really to change at this point. My philosophy is that you play your best in every game and the result will take care of itself."
Rudic's group has clearly been the most talented in this field of eight teams, but with continental berths into the Olympics at stake this weekend, other teams are bound to play a bit better.
"Tomorrow, we'll workout, but I'm going to make sure that they get the rest that they need," he said. "That way they'll have more energy and will be more motivated."
Team USA will enter the next round as the tournament's No. 1 seed. The U.S. will face either Puerto Rico or Mexico, depending on the outcome of this evening's games, in a 6:30 p.m. game tomorrow (August 9). For more information, log on to our official website at www.usawaterpolo.com or the official tournament site at www.santodomingo2003.org.
1 3 4 5 -- 13
0 2 0 0 -- 2
Azevedo 5, Wigo 2, Segesman 2, Amr 1, Beaubien 1, Smith 1, Bailey 1
Giusto 1, Testa 1
Mazzini 3, Bianchi 2