Houston, Texas – July 30 – The U.S. Olympic Men’s Water Polo made their final stop on the ‘Road To Rio’ a memorable one as they defeated Montenegro 10-9 at the University of Houston. Tony Azevedo’s (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) goal with 1:24 to play in the fourth quarter followed by a save from McQuin Baron (North Tustin, CA/USC/Regency) sealed the win for Team USA. Azevedo and Luca Cupido (Newport Beach, CA/California/Newport) scored three goals each in the victory. Team USA now heads to Brazil where they will open play in the Olympic Games on Saturday, August 6 against Croatia at 6:20am pt. For more information on Team USA at the Olympics, click here.
It was fitting that Olympic track and field gold medalist Gail Devers performed the ceremonial opening sprint ball drop as Team USA got off to a fast start. The United States built a 2-0 lead after the first quarter on the strength of goals from Azevedo and Bret Bonanni (Huntington Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) alongside stellar defense from Merrill Moses(Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC).
The second quarter saw Montenegro rally back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the match at 3-3 with 2:43 to play in the first half. Cupido and Azevedo returned fire with consecutive goals and Team USA took a 5-4 lead into halftime after a late Montenegro goal. It looked as if the United States would pull away in the third after two straight Cupido goals gave Team USA a 7-4 lead with 5:24 to play in the quarter. Josh Samuels (Villa Park, CA/UCLA/NYAC) added a score with 4:11 to go in the period to rebuild a three goal lead at 5-8. The lead was short lived as Montenegro proceeded to run off four straight goals spanning the third and fourth quarter taking their first lead of the match at 9-8 with 2:33 to go in the quarter on a Filip Klikovac goal.
Undaunted, the United States went back to work on the offensive end tying the game on a Thomas Dunstan (New Canaan, CT/Mater Dei HS/Regency) goal with 1:58 to play in the fourth. That set the stage for Azevedo’s heroics as his lob shot hit paydirt with less than 90 seconds to play. Baron, who came on in the quarter made the final stop combinging with Moses for 10 saves.
Team USA went 4/11 on power plays while Montenegro was 6/14 with neither side attempting a penalty.
USA 10 (2, 3, 3, 2) T. Azevedo 3, L. Cupido 3, B. Bonanni 2, T. Dunstan 1, J. Samuels 1
MNE 9 (0, 4, 2, 3) A. Radovic 2, Dr. Brguljan 1, Da. Brguljan 1, A. Petrovic 1, S. Misic 1, A. Ivovic 1, U. Cuckovic 1, F. Klikovac 1
Saves – USA – M. Moses 5, M. Baron 5 – MNE – M. Scepanovic 8, Z. Radic 1
6×5 – USA – 4/11 – MNE – 6/14
Penalties – USA – 0/0 – MNE – 0/0
Swimming news courtesy of USA Water Polo.