Toronto, Canada – July 11 – The U.S. Pan American Men’s Water Polo Team finished group play undefeated after downing Argentina 14-3 earlier today.
Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) led the offense with five goals while Merrill Moses (Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) and McQuin Baron (North Tustin, CA/USC/Regency) split time in net posting eight saves.
The win sends Team USA into the semifinals with a match against Canada on Mondayevening at either 8pm or 6pm et. With Brazil already in the other semifinal and qualified for next summer’s Olympic Games, the United States match with Canada could very well determine the Olympic qualifier from the Pan American Games for the 2016 Olympic Games. Video of the match on Monday will not be available but you can following along via Twitter by following @USAWP.
The match was close to start with Nikola Vavic (Palos Verdes, CA/USC/Trojan) striking first to put Team USA ahead 1-0 with 5:57 left in the period. Argentina answered moments later with a tally from Ramiro Veich for a 1-1 game. Azevedo and Bret Bonanni (Huntington Beach, CA/Stanford/Stanford) responded with power play goals and the United States took a 3-1 lead after the first period.
The second period belonged entirely to Team USA. While keeping Argentina scoreless, the United States was able to rattle off three more goals, one from Bonanni and two from Azevedo, all on the power play. The first from Azevedo saw the captain casually backstroke with the ball down to two meters, turn, and quickly fire a goal over the head of the Argentinean keeper.
Leading 6-1 at halftime, Team USA built on the advantage in the third. Luca Cupido (Newport Beach, CA/California/Newport) opened the period with a goal for a 7-1 lead. Veich responded with another score for Argentina but the United States had a strong response. Cupido scored on the power play, Azevedo delivered on the counter, and Samuels placed a lob shot for a score and a 10-2 lead after three periods.
Team USA kept up the attack in the fourth. With 6:47 to play in the match Cupido delivered a perfect pass to Alex Obert (Loomis, CA/Pacific/Sac Polo) who redirected the ball into the net for a score and an 11-2 lead. John Mann (Newport Beach, CA/California/NYAC) then drew two penalty shots, converted by Cupido and Bonanni for a 13-3 lead with 2:26 left. Azevedo capped the match with his fifth goal on a lob with just 18 seconds to play, sending Team USA to a 14-3 victory.
The United States went 7/11 on power plays and 2/2 on penalty shots while Argentina went 2/4 on power plays and did not attempt a penalty shot.
Scoring – Scoresheet
USA 14 (3, 3, 4, 4) T. Azevedo 5, L. Cupido 3, B. Bonanni 3, N. Vavic 1, A. Obert 1, J. Samuels 1
ARG 3 (1, 0, 1, 1) R. Veich 2, I. Carbantes 1
Saves – USA – M. Moses 5 – M. Baron – 3 – ARG – H. Mazzini 6
6×5 – USA – 7/11 – ARG – 2/4
Penalties – USA 2/2 – ARG – 0/0
Swimming news courtesy of USA Water Polo.