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Water Polo: Russia Gets Even, Dumps U.S., 9-7 -- July 13, 2002

U.S. water Polo teams playing abroad won two of three games today. The U.S. national men's team lost a close contest to Russia while the men's Youth team took two games at the Ispolo Youth Tournament in Istanbul.

Russia Defeats U.S. National Team 9-7

MOSCOW, July 12. THERE wasn't a single red-blooded American at the July USA vs. Russia game on July 6 who didn't wish for a peek at tonight's rematch.

A fiercely contested battle at the USA Water Polo National Aquatic Center had fans, players, and coaches alike, eager to see the next game between the two teams. The Russian players, on the heels of a 9-8
loss, were eager to get back in their home pool for a little payback.

Tonight, before a crowd of 400 fans at the Olympic Swimming Pool in Moscow, Russia got its reckoning.
Russia (2-3) defeated the U.S. 9-7, for the second time in three FINA World League meetings. Russia now
sits behind the U.S. (2-3) in third place in Group B, by way of goal difference (U.S.: -1, Russia: -8). The U.S.A.'s Sean Bailey, who sat out with an illness, is expected back in the lineup tomorrow.

It wasn't an easy game for either side, although the U.S. certainly looked in control early. A 5-2 halftime lead for Team USA appeared to set the tone for the game, but a few second half lapses allowed Russia back into the game.

Russia went on a 4-0 run to start the third quarter with goals by four different players. Jesse Smith's penalty shot with 1:13 remaining in the quarter tied the score at 6-6, but the U.S. surrendered an extra-man goal and trailed 7-6 heading into the final period of play. Four of Russia's five goals in the quarter came on the counterattack.

Irek Zinnourov gave Russia an 8-6 lead with just under four minutes to play in the game. The U.S. pulled back to within one a minute later on a score by Tony Azevedo, his only goal of the night. Dimitri Stratan's lone goal with 2:48 to play provided all the cushion that Russia would need, as his squad held on for the 9-7 lead.

Jeff Powers, who scored two goals at two-meters in Bailey's absence, was selected by attending media as the U.S. Player of the Game. Goalkeeper Alexander Federov was awarded the same honor for Russia.

The two teams will take to the water again at 3:00 p.m. Moscow time.

Team USA 3 2 1 1 -- 7
Russia 1 1 5 2 -- 9

Individual Scoring
Team USA: Powers 2, Segesman 1, Felix 1, Azevedo 1, Smith 1, Dornin 1
Russia: Erushov 2, Zinnourov 2, Kozlov 1, Tchomakhidze 1, Stratan 1, Garbouzov 1, Irishichev 1

Man Advantage Scoring
Team USA: 4 for 10
Russia: 5 for 11

Goal Saves
Team USA: Moses 13
Russia: Federov 8

Attendance: 400

Other Scores:
Group A
Italy 9, Greece 6

Group B
Hungary 16, Croatia 10

Team USA Notebook:
--A Look at the U.S. Man-Advantage
Team USA has now gone 22 for 59 (37%) on the man-advantage in the FINA World League, while opponents have gone 26 for 51 (51%). The second half has been a problem for the U.S. on the man-advantage since the first game. In the league opener, Team USA shot 6 for 7 on the 6-on-5 in the second half, but only 5 for 27 (19%) in the second half since. The U.S. has received
48% of its total offense via the man-up (22/45). Opponents have converted on 58% of man-advantage opps in the second half.

Notable Quotes:
Ratko Rudic (USA Head Coach)
"We didn't organize our front court offense effectively in the second half. We didn't score counterattack goals, we relaxed after getting an early lead, and we missed several opportunities on offense late in the game."

"We can play at the same level as Russia, but we didn't do that in the second half. We can only improve. We can play with any team, but we have to concentrate at all times."

"Our players are at a disadvantage in that they do not start playing as young as the Europeans."

Merrill Moses (USA Goalkeeper)
"We had a great first half, but we relaxed mentally and got away from our defensive game plan in the second half. Our goal was to shut down the counterattack and to not allow the hole man to shoot."

"If we follow our game plan, we will win. We learn from each game and we will not make the same mistakes again."

Wolf Wigo (USA Driver and Team Captain)
"We came out strong, which is something that we've been working on. But defensive breakdowns in the second half really cost us and shift the momentum of the game to the Russians."


USA Youth Men Take Two in Istanbul
ISTANBUL, July 12. THE USA Men's Youth team won two games in the Ispolo Youth Water Polo Tournament today, defeating Romania, 7-3, and Turkey, 10-5.

In the morning, both Romania and the USA got off to a sluggish start, with the first quarter ending 0-0. Back to back counter-attack goals by Mike Garcia and Matt Tilburg early in the second period gave the USA 2-0 lead.

After Romania rallied to tie 2-2, Adi Jerkovic found Symon Schafer open at the post during a 6 on 5 to regain the lead 3-2.

Early in the 3rd, Tyler Kandel skipped a ball home. After a Romania counter goal, Matt Lee scored two man-advantage goals to give the USA a 6-3 lead with only 2:34 to play. Kandel capped the scoring with a perimeter shot in the final 10 seconds.

USA goals: Matt Lee 2, Tyler Kandel 2, Mike Garcia 1, Matt Tilburg 1, Simon Schafer 1

USA saves: Scott Syverson 3

In the final game of the day, the USA downed host Turkey 10-5. For the thid consecutive game, the USA took a 2-0 lead.

Tyler Kandel opened the scoring with a 6 on 5 goal, followed quickly by a 2-meter goal by Simon Schafer. The USA led 3-1 afer the first period, and never looked back, eventually extending their lead to 6-1.

Turkey made a run halfway through the third period, but a 2-meter goal by Kandel late in the clock regained the momentum for the USA.

This was a solid overall team effort with contributions from the whole roster. Clint Wilson contributed 3 goals, two of them on assists from Adi Jerkovic. Center backs Grant Miller and Marty Matthies combined for 3 goals, and 6 steals, with Matthies also earning two exclusions. Brian Snyder earned two exclusions with excellent work on the counterattack.
Goalie Sandy Hohener had another excellent game with 10 saves.

USA goals: Tyler Kandel 3, Clynt Wilson 3, Grant Miller 2, Marty Matthies 1, Simon Schafer 1

USA saves: Sandy Hohener 10

The USA plays Canada tomorrow, and finishes the tourney with Egypt on Sunday.