ORADEA, Romania, July 31. THE USA Men's National Team fell 11-9 to Croatia earlier today in the semifinals of the FINA World Cup. With the loss Team USA moves into the third place match against either Serbia or Spain on Sunday. Ryan Bailey (Long Beach, CA/Newport WPF) and Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/NYAC) each scored three goals in the losing effort while Merrill Moses (Palos Verdes, CA/NYAC) tallied nine saves in the cage.
Croatia got off to a great start in this match posting a 3-0 lead before the United States got on the board with a score from Adam Wright (Seal Beach, CA/NYAC) to make it 3-1 going to the second in favor of Croatia. Bailey scored early in the period to draw within 3-2 but Croatia answered to push it back to 4-2. The United States climbed to within a goal again at 4-3 on a score from Jeff Powers (San Luis Obispo, CA/Newport WPF). That was short-lived as Croatia rattled off two straight scores to pull into halftime up 6-3.
In the third quarter Croatia kept their three goal lead getting out to a 7-4 advantage before the United States again began to chip away getting to 7-6 on an Azevedo goal with less than two minutes to play in the period. Croatia would score again but again Azevedo answered with a tally and it was a one goal match at 8-7 going to the fourth.
Team USA completed their comeback early in the fourth when a Bailey score knotted the match at 8-8 with 5:15 to go in the game. That would be the end of the line for the United States as Croatia proceeded to score three straight to go up 11-8 with 1:02 remaining. A late goal by Team USA would not factor in the decision.
The United States went 2/6 on power plays while Croatia went 6/10. "We gave up some goals at some critical times especially on our five-man defense. We will be ready for the third place game," said USA Head Coach Terry Schroeder.
USA 9 (1, 2, 4, 2) R. Bailey 3, T. Azevedo 3, A. Wright 1, P. Varellas 1, J. Powers 1
CRO 11 (3, 3, 2, 3)
Saves – USA – M. Moses – 9
6×5 – USA 2/6 – CRO – 6/10
Penalties – USA 1/1
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