August 24 – The USA Men’s Senior National Team fell just short of the podium at the FINA World Cup, taking fourth place following an 8-6 loss to Croatia. Despite a late rally Team USA couldn’t overcome a 16 minute stretch spanning the second and third quarter where they managed only one goal. Alex Bowen (Santee, CA/Stanford/Stanford) led the offense with two goals while Merrill Moses (Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) recorded 10 saves in net. Bret Bonanni (Huntington Beach, CA/Stanford/Stanford) was named the tournament’s top scorer after finishing with 13 goals while teammate Jesse Smith (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) earned top defensive player honors. Team USA finishes the World Cup with a 3-3 record earning wins over South Africa, Montenegro, and Australia. To visit the official tournament website, click here.
Team USA got off to a great start with an opening goal from Nolan McConnell (Laguna Beach, CA/Long Beach St./SET) for a 1-0 lead. Croatia answered with a goal but Smith responded for a 2-1 USA lead with 2:13 left in the period. Croatia closed the period with a goal and the match was tied at 2-2 after the opening eight minutes. Croatia surged ahead in the second period outscoring Team USA 3-1 to build a 5-3 lead at halftime. They continued to pour it on in the third scoring two more unanswered goals for a 7-3 advantage going into the fourth period.
In the fourth the United States drew to within 8-5 on a Bowen goal with 3:53 to play in the match and had a chance to cut it down to two goals but Bonanni was blocked on a penalty shot attempt. Alex Obert (Loomis, CA/Pacific/Sac Polo) cashed in with a little over a minute to play to cut the deficit to 8-6 but the United States would get no closer.
Team USA went 4/11 on power plays while Croatia went 3/9. Bonanni and Smith were also named to the FINA World Cup All-Tournament Team along with John Mann (Newport Beach, CA/California/NYAC).
In the final results, Serbia beat Hungary 11-9 to take the gold medal. Australia doubled up Kazakhstan 12-6 for fifth place while Montenegro beat South Africa 13-10 for seventh place.
Team USA finished with a 3-3 record topping South Africa 19-1, Montenegro 11-7, and Australia 11-9 in a shootout. They lost to Serbia 11-9, Hungary 7-5, and Croatia 8-6. The best finish at the World Cup for Team USA remains gold medals in 1991 and 1997.
USA 6 (2, 1, 0, 3) A. Bowen 2, N. McConnell 1, J. Smith 1, L. Cupido 1, A. Obert 1
CRO 8 (2, 3, 2, 1)
Saves – USA – M. Moses 10
6×5 – USA – 4/11 – CRO 3/9
Water Polo News / Swimming News courtesy of USA Water Polo.