Huizhou, China – June 25 – For the first time since 2008 the USA Men’s National Team will play for gold at the FINA World League Super Final following a 17-16 shootout win over Greece. Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) scored the final goal for Team USA after McQuin Baron (North Tustin, CA/USC/Regency) made the final stop in the shootout to secure the victory. Azevedo scored two goals in regulation and two in the penalty joined byLuca Cupido (Newport Beach, CA/California/Newport) scoring four goals in regulation and one in the shootout to lead the offense. Team USA will take on Serbia in the title match on Sunday at 4pm local time/1am pt. The match will stream live on beIN Sports 8 and air on delay at 9am pt. To access streaming click here, cable identification required.
The USA Men got off to a strong start opening up a 5-2 lead after the first quarter. Greece rallied with three goals in the second quarter to draw within one at 6-5 at the intermission. A high scoring third quarter followed with Greece outscoring Team USA 5-4 to tie the match at 10-10 going to the fourth. Defense picked up in the fourth quarter with each side only mustering one goal in the very final moments. Cupido scored with 49 seconds left to put Team USA ahead 11-10 only to see Greece tie it with less than a second left on a goal from Christos Afroudakis to leave the game tied at 11-11 after regulation.
That led to a shootout with Team USA picking up the one goal victory. Team USA went 6/11 on power plays while Greece went 3/10 on power plays with neither side attempting a penalty in regulation. Merrill Moses (Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) led the goalkeeping efforts in regulation turning aside nine shots. Baron’s lone save came in the penalty shootout.
“Our team deserved the win. I need to give credit to my guys. They had all the guts inside and deserved the win. We got some problems in the numbers of exclusions in the middle of the game. But I am proud of my guys more than how did they go through the game. As a young team, we need to learn how to play and finish a close game within 10 seconds. We need to learn how to pass and received the ball,” said USA Head Coach Dejan Udovicic.
The last time the USA Men appeared in the gold medal final at the FINA World League Super Final they won silver in 2008, falling to Serbia in the title match 7-3.
USA 17 (5, 1, 4, 1) (6) L. Cupido 4, T. Azevedo 2, A. Obert 1, J. Samuels 1, B. Bonanni 1, J. Mann 1, A. Bowen 1 – Penalties – T. Azevedo 2, L. Cupido 1, A. Obert 1, J. Samuels 1, B. Bonanni
GRE 16 (2, 3, 5, 1) (5)
Saves – USA – M. Moses 9 – M. Baron 1
6×5 – USA – 6/11 – GRE – 3/10
Penalties – USA – 0/0 – GRE -0/0 – Extra Time – USA – 6/6 – GRE – 5/6
Swimming news courtesy of USA Water Polo.