MORAGA, Calif., July 27. THE U.S. men's national team was unable to repeat last night's performance against visiting Olympic gold medalist Hungary in FINA World League competition. The Hungarians took advantage of
several errand U.S. passes and several man-advantage misses in the second half to hold on for an 11-8 victory before a standing-room only crowd of 2775 at the Soda Aquatics Center in Moraga (Calif.) tonight.
Hungary, playing a more crisp, more physical game than 24 hours earlier, was able to create more offensive opportunities against the U.S. And despite some late fire from Team USA, the Hungarians were able to reserve the win.
Hungary, which finishes FINA World League play with a record of 11-1, will advance to next week's (Aug. 1-4) Super Final in Greece.
The U.S. finishes the regular season at 4-8 and will return to Southern California tomorrow to begin preparation for the 2002 World Cup in Belgrade,
Yugoslavia, which runs from August 20-25.
Hungary jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter of play, thanks in part to a pair of goals by Peter Biros. In what looked like a role-reversed replay from a late goal last night, Jeff Powers tossed a lob pass to Dan Klatt in front of the goal for an easy score past Hungarian keeper Zoltan Szecsi.
Chris Segesman connected on a pass from Wolf Wigo early in the second quarter to bring the U.S. to within striking distance at 3-2, but the Hungarians proceeded to put some distance between themselves and their hosts. A 3-0 run to close the half gave Hungary a 6-2 lead at the break.
The U.S. outscored Hungary 4-3 in the third quarter on goals by Jesse Smith, Klatt, and two by Felix. But the fourth quarter started on a sour note for Team USA.
A penalty on Merrill Moses with 8:41 to play resulted in a goal by Gergely Kiss, giving Hungary a 10-6 lead. Peter Hudnut answered back with a goal of his own on Team USA's next possession, but a goal by Tibor Benedek again pushed the U.S. deficit to four.
With 1:04 to play in the game, Benedek was called for a game exclusion and Hungarian coach Denes Kemeny was handed a red card just seconds later. Tony Azevedo finally got in the score column with 39 seconds to play, but the coachless Hungarians had enough insurance to walk away with the win.
Neither team shot well on the man-advantage. Hungary shot 3-for-14, while the U.S. connected at 6-for-17.
Team USA 1 1 4 2 — 8
Hungary 3 3 3 2 — 11
Team USA: Felix 2, Smith 2, Hudnut 1, Segesman 1, Azevedo 1, Klatt 1
Hungary: Molnar 4, Biros 3, Kiss 2, Benedek 1, B. Steinmetz 1
Man Advantage Scoring
Team USA: 6 for 17
Hungary: 3 for 14
Team USA: Moses 8
Hungary: Szecsi 9
Ratko Rudic (USA Head Coach)
"Today, Hungary proved that they just wanted it more than us."
"We need these kinds of games to show our guys what they can accomplish. We just played two great games against the best team in the world, so that's
something to be proud of."
"This year is an experimental year. We've used these games to prepare for the World Cup and Olympics. I have an excellent team and they're exciting to work with."
Wolf Wigo (USA Driver and Team Captain)
"We have played a lot of very physical, very emotional games in this league. It's tough to play with that kind of intensity for a sustained period of time, so sometimes we didn't come out intense enough. When we did keep it up, we were at our best."
"With the extended nine-minute quarters, we got to play a lot more guys. That was great for our young players who really got to step up and get the experience. That's exactly what we need to pick up our balance as a team."
Tony Azevedo (USA Driver)
"The biggest thing for us in this league has been experience. U.S. teams in the past haven't been able to play this many games in one year, so we were going into the World Cup with only 4-5 high level games under our belts. I think this will help us a lot in Belgrade."
Denes Kemeny (Hungarian Head Coach)
"We hope to do well in Patras next week."
"We feel that we have a good chance in Belgrade at the World Cup, but we're in a tough bracket. I think any of the four teams (Russia, Hungary, USA, Yugoslavia) can advance. It will be tough."