BUDAPEST, Aug. 10. THE U.S. men's water polo team chalked up a 7-7 tie in its late game with Italy on Friday, but was undone 10-4 by a potent Hungarian offense today at the Unicum Cup in Budapest.
While head coach Ratko Rudic plays to win every night, he has also used the Unicum Cup to work in some rest for his competition-worn squad that has participated in
more high-level summer games than any previous U.S. team.
Yesterday against Yugoslavia, a sans-Tony Azevedo U.S. team played the bronze medalists hard but fell, 5-3. Spencer Dornin rested in the late game last night against Italy, and team captain Wolf Wigo sat today against the Hungarians. Rudic wants to ensure that his horses will be rested when they leave the gate to take on Hungary, Russia, and Yugoslavia in World Cup pool
play later this month. All three teams brought home medals from the 2000 Olympics.
Today's game was competitive enough at the outset, with Hungary holding a 2-1 lead after one quarter. The U.S. displayed the same mettle that earned them an upset of the Hungarians on U.S. soil in World League play not more than three weeks ago. But the reigning Olympic gold medalists weren't as easily dispatched in their home pool.
Hungary outscored the U.S. 4-1 in the second quarter to take a 6-2 lead into the half. However, the U.S. lashed out in the third quarter on goals by Jeff Powers and Ryan Bailey to come back to within two at 6-4 with 3:36 to go. But Hungary had an answer. A 4-0 run for the remainder of the game turned the U.S. away, and gave Hungary the 10-4 win.
In last night's game against Italy, the U.S. jumped on the board first courtesy of Jeff Powers, who scored with 4:54 to go in the first quarter. Allesandro Calcaterra responded on Italy's next possession, scoring man-advantage goal after a Jesse Smith ejection to make it 1-1.
Dan Klatt, who is playing with a cracked rib, put the U.S. back in front on the next trip down tank. But Italy scored two unanswered to close the quarter with a 3-2 lead.
Team USA scored four goals in the second quarter to hold a 6-5 edge at halftime. Ryan Bailey and Tony Azevedo each scored one, while left-hander Larry Felix turned in two.
Italy led, 7-6, late in the fourth quarter, but when Francesco Postiglione was handed a game exclusion with 2:01 remaining on the game clock, the U.S. took advantage. A quick shot by Azevedo from the perimeter settled in the net to tie the score at 7-7, which is where it remained.
Hungary remains the field's only undefeated team at 4-0, securing the hosts the tournament title. A win tomorrow over Italy (2-1-1) would virtually secure Yugoslavia (2-2) second place if Yugoslavia is able to do away with Germany. This scenario, coupled with a U.S. (1-2-1) win over Australia, would make for a USA-Italy knot at third place. Italy would then likely get
the nod on goal differential.
Date Time Team vs. Team
August 11 9:00 a.m. Germany vs. Yugoslavia
10:15 a.m. Australia vs. USA
11:30 a.m. Hungary vs. Italy
* All times local Budapest time.