Kazan, Russia – August 8 – The USA Men’s Senior National Team bounced back from two straight losses to finish strong at the FINA World Championships topping Australia 10-6 to claim seventh place.
Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) playing in his water polo record eighth world championship led the USA offense with four goals while McQuin Baron (North Tustin, CA/USC/Regency) went the distance in net stopping 15 shots. Team USA completes play in Kazan earning victories over Russia, Italy, Brazil and Australia.
It was the Aussies that got off to a hot start in this match as John Cotterill and George Ford scored in the opening three minutes to grab an early 2-0 lead. Team USA battled back on a score from Azevedo on the power play to draw within one at 2-1 with just under five minutes to play. Aaron Younger put Australia back in front by two with a goal at the 2:19 mark but Bret Bonanni (Huntington Beach, CA/Stanford/Stanford) countered with a power play strike to make it 3-2 after the first period.
The second quarter saw Team USA start to take control. With 3:39 left in the first, Azevedo scored his second goal on a penalty shot to even the match at 3-3. Less than a minute later Nikola Vavic (Palos Verdes, CA/USC/Trojan) connected on a power play to put Team USA ahead for the first time at 4-3. That would be the lead for the United States going into halftime.
If the second quarter was the beginning of Team USA’s assertion, the third quarter confirmed their desire to win this match. Azevedo scored his third of the day on a power play in the opening two minutes of action for a 5-3 USA lead. Some two minutes later Bonanni found the back of the net once more for a 6-3 lead only to see his former Stanford teammate Alex Bowen (Santee, CA/Stanford/NYAC) score on the power play for a 7-3 lead with 2:55 to play in the third. With 1:49 to go in the period John Mann (Newport Beach, CA/California/NYAC) got to work at the center spot scoring in close for the largest lead of the match at 8-3. Australia had the last word in the period on a goal from Nathan Power with thirty seconds to play but the statement had been made by Team USA.
The red, white, and blue put the match to rest in the first two minutes of the fourth as Bowen and Azevedo both scored from the five meter area for a 10-4 advantage. Australia would muster two goals late but they wouldn’t factor in the decision as Baron denied several shots down the stretch leading to a 10-6 victory.
Team USA went 5/12 on power plays and 1/1 on penalty shots while Australia went 4/9 on power plays and did not attempt a penalty.
USA 10 (2, 2, 4, 2) T. Azevedo 4, B. Bonanni 2, A. Bowen 2, N. Vavic 1, J. Mann 1
AUS 6 (3, 0, 1, 2) A. Younger 2, J. Cotterill 1, G. Ford 1, N. Power 1, R. Campbell 1
Saves – USA – M. Baron 15 – AUS – J. Stanton-French 5, J. Dennerly 2
6×5 – USA – 5/12 – AUS 4/9
Penalties – USA – 1/1 – AUS – 0/0
Swimming news courtesy of USA Water Polo.