The USA Men's National Team lost more than just a water polo match on Tuesday in the 2011 FINA World Championships in Shanghai, China. The Americans also lost an automatic berth into the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
A 9-8 loss to defending Olympic gold-medalist Hungary dropped the Americans into the 5th through 8th-place bracket and means Team USA will look to the Pan American Games this October as its next opportunity to qualify for London.
"We always want to go out there and win," said Tony Azevedo, the veteran USA team captain from Stanford. "We want to be the first American team to win a (World Championship) medal, we want to qualify, but it didn't happen that way.
"For us, the big picture is London. It's been that way since Beijing. For other teams, Europeans, they have all these things. For us right now, our focus is qualifying for London. We are going to do these next two games to prepare for the Pan American Games and after that we'll be getting prepared for the Olympic Games. That's our focus."
Stanford grad Peter Varellas and Ryan Bailey each tallied three goals to lead the U.S. against Hungary while goalie Merrill Moses turned in a strong effort by turning aside 12 shots. Team USA next will play on Thursday in a rematch with Germany from group play. The United States opened the tournament losing to Germany, 9-7.
Team USA came out on fire in the first half as it got a goal less than a minute into the match when Bailey delivered a backhand to take a 1-0 lead. That was followed at about the five minute mark when Tim Hutten drew a five-meter penalty and Bailey converted for a goal and a 2-0 lead. Hungary broke through on the next possession with a power play score to get within 2-1 but the United States answered moments later as Azevedo went bar down to beat the goalie for a 3-1 lead.
Varellas got his first goal of the day with a shot from outside that touched off the crossbar and went in to put the U.S. up by 5-2. After Hungary had taken a 6-5 lead in the third period, Varellas faked out the goalie on a lob shot that dropped into the net for a 6-6 game.
Hungary scored with 1:34 remaining to go in the match for a 9-7 lead, but the United States would not back down. Varellas scored his third goal on a power play with 1:13 left and it was 9-8. After the USA defense held off Hungary, the Americans' last possession resulted in a turnover.
"Bottom line, when it came down to it, we missed three or four wide open 6-on-5 opportunities and we gave up some that probably shouldn't have been goals for them," Azevedo said. "You're really not going to beat a team like Hungary when you do that stuff."
South Broward High star Kalai Robledo after a world-wide tournament tour with the Puerto Rican National Team is vacationing in Hawaiian Islands. While relaxing on Maui, Robledo plans to drink plenty of virgin Pina Coladas and surf the big breaks at Honolua Bay, Maalea and Jaws while preparing for the Junior Pan-American Games in early August.
Shanghai, China - July 24 - The USA Men's National Team made it back to back victories and earned a trip into the quarterfinals with a dominant 17-4 victory over Canada. Team USA now moves on to face Hungary on Tuesday at 2pm local time/11pm pst (Monday), in a rematch of the Gold Medal final from the 2008 Olympic Games. Four different players tallied three goals on the day including Jesse Smith (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC), Jeff Powers (San Luis Obispo, CA/UC-Irvine/Newport WPF), Tim Hutten (Seal Beach, CA/UC-Irvine/Newport WPF),and Ryan Bailey (Long Beach, CA/UC-Irvine/Newport WPF). Merrill Moses (Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) and Andy Stevens (Villa Park, CA/LMU/NYAC) combined in the cage to stop 12 shots.
The United States started off with a misfire failing to convert a penalty shot attempt less than a minute into the match but quickly made amends when Hutten scored his first of the night from the right side for a 1-0 lead. Not long after the ball went inside to Powers who delivered a turnaround fadeaway shot to beat the keeper and post a 2-0 lead. On the next trip down the pool Canada drew a five meter penalty only to miss off the post but they would likewise atone for the error with a power play goal minutes later to draw within 2-1. Barely twenty seconds had elapsed before the United States struck again when Smith scored on a power play for a 3-1 lead. That was followed at the 2:11 mark with Shea Buckner (Villa Park, CA/USC/NYAC) nicely feeding Bailey in front of the cage for an easy tally and a 4-1 lead. Canada got one back on another power play but that was answered with just :16 remaining in the period as Peter Hudnut (Encino, CA/Stanford/NYAC) drew a five meter and Brian Alexander (Santa Ana, CA/UCSB/Olympic Club) buried the shot for a 5-2 advantage after one quarter of play.
In the second quarter the United States blew the game open with a cavalcade of goals. Early in the period Adam Wright (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/NYAC) found his way to the cage and jammed one past the keeper for a 6-2 lead. Then Bailey got free again on the inside for a score followed by Hudnut banging one in off the post on a cross cage delivery and Team USA was in command up 8-2. Canada then missed another penalty shot off the post and the United States took advantage on the next possession as with the shot clock set to expire Smith threw a rope from beyond six meters that found the net and extended the lead to 9-1. At the 2:17 mark Hutten fired in another score, this time on a power play and then Bailey closed the period with a powerful effort meeting a lob pass towards the cage at the same time as the goalie only to bat it past the keeper for a score and an 11-2 lead at halftime.
Defense proved a strong point throughout as evidenced by the USA killing off a six on four advantage for the Canadians to open the third quarter. Canada did break through with a power play goal moments later but that was answered by another Smith shot from distance and kept the USA in front 12-3. Canada got another score back at the 4:30 mark to come within 12-4 but the United States would button up the defense the rest of the way. In the meantime the goals kept coming for the red, white, and blue. Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) took a great lead pass from Peter Varellas (Moraga, CA/Stanford/Olympic Club) for a score, Powers got loose immediately following a Canadian exclusion and put home the chip shot, and then Hutten buried a shot from outside and by the end of the quarter Team USA was up 15-4.
Things slowed down in the fouth quarter. It was't until the 3:24 mark that a goal was scored coming from Varellas as he drove to the cage. Then a minute later Varellas hit Powers with a good look for the score and the United States went up 17-4 which is how the match would end. Team USA went 4/6 on power plays and 1/2 on penalties while Canada was 3/9 on power plays and 0/2 on penalties. Moses tallied eight saves while Stevens added four working the fourth quarter.
USA 17 (5, 6, 4, 2) J. Powers 3, J. Smith 3, R. Bailey 3, T. Hutten 3, P. Varellas 1, P. Hudnut 1. T. Azevedo 1, A. Wright, B. Alexander 1
CAN 4 (2, 0, 2, 0)
Saves - USA - M. Moses 8, A. Stevens 4
6x5 - USA 4/6 - CAN 3/9
Penalties - USA 1/2 - CAN 0/2
"The coaches got us very focused for this game. We wanted to make a statement in this game. It's against Canada and we know no matter what we're going to be playing Canada in the Pan American Games and we wanted to let them know that we are a team to be taken seriously. We haven't been gelling and having the chemistry we wanted in the tournament and it feels like we are gettnig it back. Now it's up to one game at a time and a rematch of the Gold Medal Game (from Beijing)." Merrill Moses - USA Goalkeeper
"You never know what's going to happen, you have to take every game indivdually. We just had to stick to our game plan. We weren't sticking to our game plan and playing as a team and we brought that back together and now we have a big game against Hungary to get to the final four." Merrill Moses - USA Goalkeeper
"I think they (the team) started to get excited about playing. They came to play with a little sense of urgency, which is what we've been lacking, we've been a little bit complacent. I think they are taking pride in how they play defense and hopefully that will carry over to the next few games." Terry Schroeder, USA Head Coach
"We have to force them to score six on six, we can't give them a lot of unecessary 6 on 5s. We've gotta keep that goal count low, against these guys if we can go end to end and keep them from making any runs we got a chance to stay in it but we have to play a controlled game. It can't be a high scoring game, they'll beat us in a shootout. We can beat them in a 7-6 game for sure, I feel confident we can, that's the type of game we have to play." Terry Schroeder, USA Head Coach on preparing for Hungary
Seven Hartwick College Hawks Continue CWPA Presence on Day 4 of FINA Women's World Championship
SHANGHAI, China --Kirsten Hudson (New Zealand), Bronwen Knox (Australia), Sophie Smith (Australia), Barbara Amaro (Brazil), Marina Zablith (Brazil), Jemma Dendy-Young (South Africa) and Ryan Castle (Kazakhstan), who all have connections to Hartwick College, continued the Collegiate Water Polo Association's (CWPA) showing on Day 4 of the FINA Women's World Championship in Shanghai, China.
Three CWPA former/current student-athletes were on the two benches in a 10-9 victory by Brazil over the Republic of South Africa as former players Amaro and Zablith competed for Brazil, while current Hawks' student-athlete Dendy-Young was part of the South Africa contingent.
For Brazil, the victory sets up a meeting with anothter CWPA connection as Castle, an assistant coach at Hartwick and the head coach of the Kazakhstan National Team, guided his squad to a 14-13 victory over Uzbekistan.
Kazakhstan and Brazil will clash on Monday, while South Africa will meet Uzbekistan in the next round of competition.
In other action, former Hartwick player Hudson did not score in a 14-6 loss by New Zealand to the Netherlands, and Knox and Smith factored in a 10-9 victory by Australia against Hungary.
Australia advances to Monday's quarterfinals and a meeting with Italy, the silver medallist at last month’s FINA World League Super Final, while New Zealand will continue play versus Cuba.
One CWPA connection did not compete as former University of Michigan standout and CWPA Hall of Fame inductee Betsey Armstrong and the United States of America National Team were off after earning a bye for winning their bracket. The USA squad will face Russia on Monday in the quarterfinals.
Out of the water, CWPA referee and Mark Koganov (Azerbaijan), who is representing his native Republic of Azerbaijan as a neutral referee for the tournament, did not call a game in the most recent round of competition. He is expected to receive an assignment for Monday's slate of games.
***Former First Team All-Broward County, Broward County Player of the Year & Aquinas standout Martina Shorkey is currently a junior at Hartwick.
Chris Bloese the head coach of South Broward High's water polo team and Debbie Cavanaugh head coach at Ft. Lauderdale High have been announced as 2011 Masters First Team All-Americans. Their team the Fighting Flamingos won the 50+ Womens National Championship last month in Northern California. The All-Americans play club water polo locally with the South Florida Water Polo Club.