Goalkeeper Dan Hackett Notches 14 Saves in USA’s Final Pre-Olympic Contest
Malibu, CA—Coming into last week’s training series with Romania, the U.S. Olympic water polo team didn’t know exactly what to expect. A few factors
figured into this uncertainty. For one, the Romanians, who will not be in the Olympics, had just concluded their season in Europe. They were also coming to Southern California, which might be a little more conducive to vacation than it is to water polo. But the Romanians had other ideas, giving their U.S. counterparts a run for their money during games and practices.
Saturday (Sept. 2), despite a strong second half performance by their guests, the U.S. outlasted Romania, 11-7 before a sold out crowd at Pepperdine University. The match was the final pre-Olympic contest for Team USA, who kicks off action in Sydney on September 23 with Croatia. And according to assistant coach Monte Nitzkowski, Romania was the perfect tune-up.
“They were really great training partners,” said Nitzkowski. “They came out and gave one hundred percent everyday and made us work hard. Today, they
really gave us a good game. This was just what we needed before tackling Croatia.”
The U.S. started its scoring tirade early, scoring four first quarter goals, a shade under its seven-goal pace from Thursday’s 17-10 extravaganza.
Team USA captain Chris Oeding (Newport Beach, CA) notched two of his three goals in that quarter and teammates Wolf Wigo (New York, NY) and Chris
Humbert (Lodi, CA) scored one apiece.
Oeding and company outscored Romania, 4-1, in both the first and second quarters, but hit a lull on both sides of the ball in the second half.
Romania came alive in the third quarter, scoring four unanswered goals over the last 2:46 to narrow the USA’s lead to 11-6.
A fairly dormant final quarter practically negated the past week of offensive insanity, in which the teams had already combined to score 38 goals in two games. The defensive battle that transpired in the final frame saw Romania toss in the game’s last goal, rounding out the scoring at 11-7.
Dan Hackett (Irvine, CA) was stellar in goal for the U.S., stopping 14 shots on the day. Hackett’s next assailants will hail from Croatia, when the U.S. takes on the world in the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney.