Los Angeles, CA – May 22 – As a national television audience tuned in on the NBC Sports Network, the house was packed to watch Team USA and Australia square off for pre-Olympic prep work at USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center. In the opening matchup between the U.S. and Aussie men, Australia was able to fend off Team USA down the stretch for an 8-6 victory. Luca Cupido (Newport Beach, CA/California/Newport) scored two goals in the loss while Merrill Moses(Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) and McQuin Baron (North Tustin, CA/USC/Regency) combined for nine saves in net.
Helped by a hat trick apiece from Joel Campbell and Joe Kayes, the Aussies also leaned on some stingy defense that turned away 11 U.S. power play opportunities. Australia jumped out ahead 2-0 while shutting out the Americans through the first eight minutes of action. That two-goal margin would prove crucial for the visitors, as Team USA was unable to carve down the deficit to more than a single goal. A sizzling skipper from Cupido — his first of two goals on the day — tugged the USA to within one at halftime, trailing 3-2. The defensive first half was thanks in part to strong stands in the cage by goalies on each end. Moses collected six saves in his 16 minutes of work, while Australia’s Joel Dennerley knocked down five in the first half.
After a flurry of goals in the third period of play, both teams’ second-half goalies made a stand in the fourth as Australia’s James Clark and USA’s Baron traded big stops. The Aussie defense would shut down a U.S. 6-on-4 chance, followed by a blast from distance by Australia’s Joel Campbell to take the visitors back ahead by two, up 7-5 with 2:51 to go. At 1:25, Australia’s Lachlan Edwards ripped in a backhand strike to tug the Aussies to their largest lead of the game. With 1:10 remaining, USA’s Alex Bowen (Santee, CA/Stanford/NYAC) delivered to get the hosts back within two, but that would be as close as Team USA would get thanks to two more saves from Clark on the last possession of the game.
Team USA went 1/12 on power plays while Australia was 2/4 on power plays with neither side attempting a penalty shot.
Australia 8, USA 6
May 22, 2016 – Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
AUS 2 – 1 – 3 – 2 = 8
USA — 1 / 12
ASU — 2 / 4
USA — 0 / 0
ASU — 0 / 0
Swimming news courtesy of USA Water Polo.