Team USA Drops High-Scoring Affair to World All-Stars in First Exhibition

Villa Park, Calif., May 23, 2002—It was the U.S. vs. the World on Wednesday night at Villa Park High School in Orange County. And this time, the World won.

In the first of a series of exhibitions to be held throughout the state over the next month, the World All-Stars defeated the USA men’s water polo team in an offense-drenched contest, 16-13.

The World All-Star Team, which is comprised of some of the most seasoned players in the world, got on the board first with a goal by Hungary’s Zolt Varga at the 7:24 mark in the first quarter and went up 2-0 on Varga’s second goal just two minutes later.

The U.S. fought its way into the score column on a score by Jack Kocur (Simi Valley, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) with 3:22 to play and evened the score at 2-2 on a goal by Adam Wright (Seal Beach, CA/UCLA/NYAC) on the next possession.

Team USA trailed by as much as three in the first half, but stayed with the All-Stars and trailed, 9-8 at the break.

The All-Stars held a 14-10 advantage early in the fourth quarter, but three unanswered goals by the U.S. brought the score to 14-13 with 3:37 remaining in the game. However, the World All-Stars managed two late scores to seal the 16-13 win.

Loss or no, U.S. head coach Ratko Rudic was pleased with his team’s effort.

“The World All-Star Team is one of the best collections of water polo players ever assembled,” he said. “This is a learning experience for us, so all things considered this was a good game.”

Israeli left hander Gadi Hagar poured in four goals for the All-Stars in the win.

Jeff Powers (San Luis Obispo, CA/UC Irvine/Newport Water Polo Foundation) scored four goals in the loss for the U.S., while Kocur, Wright, and Larry Felix (Anaheim, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) netted two apiece.

Clinic Snapshots
Team USA held its first World All-Stars Tour Clinic on Saturday (May 19) at La Canada High School. The clinic, gauged as a success by the national team
staff, featured scrimmages, demonstrations, video sessions, training and therapy sessions, and a question-and-answer forum with the national team.
Among the questions that were thrown out were the following:

1. Who is the best player on your team?
Never an easy question to answer when you’re in the company of some of the finest athletes in the world. To prevent any playful rivalries from emerging, Coach Rudic fielded the question saying that they are all great in their own way.

2. Why do you guys practice so early?
“Good question,” could be heard mumbled from the national teamers, a quip that was met by several laughs.

3. What are we doing after this?
Ahhh, the patience of the young. “Next question,” said assistant coach Rick Azevedo.

The clinic welcomed over 50 young athletes, as did the second at Villa Park. For photos of the La Canada clinic, please visit the web at

http://www.rsphoto.com/waterpolo_net/.

All photos are courtesy of Rod Snyder.

Missing in Action
Team USA was without any of its returning Olympians in Wednesday’s 16-13 loss to the World All-Stars. Sharpshooter Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/Long Beach Shore) is finishing up school at Stanford and is only able to make weekend exhibitions for the next few weeks. Hole-man Ryan Bailey (Long Beach, CA/UC Irvine/Long Beach Shore), who recently became the first American to participate in the European Water Polo Final Four with his team JUG Dubrovnik (Croatia), has not yet returned to the States. Team captain Wolf Wigo (New York,NY/Stanford/NYAC) has been playing
professionally in Greece and has not been able to make any games to this point. However, both Wigo and Azevedo are expected to be in attendance for this weekend’s festivities at Savannah High School in Anaheim.

The Shoe’s Definitely on the Other Foot 2000 U.S. Olympian Brad Schumacher could be seen as a turncoat. On Wednesday night, “Shoe” was playing against his former mates as a member of the World All-Star Team. Schumacher recently made a splash internationally when he was named as the Most Valuable Player of the Australian Water Polo League, an honor he earned by helping his team (Fremantle Zanzibar Mariners) to the
league’s final four. Schumacher had one goal against the U.S.

Shootout Mayhem
As part of the tour, U.S. coach Ratko Rudic has decided to implement more fan participation. In the first-ever World All-Stars Tour Halftime Shootout,
nearly two dozen kids took to the pool for three shots apiece at either U.S. goalkeeper Genai Kerr (Imperial Beach, CA/UC Irvine/Newport Water Polo Foundation) or Italian sensation Marco Gerini. The anarchy was masterminded by U.S. driver Jack Kocur at center pool, with t-shirts pegged as the prize for the top three shooters. “Shirts for everyone,” Kocur declared as time expired on the shootout, an announcement that was not so well received by the national team staff. “We’re going to run out of shirts! Only the top
three!” So, wistfully, Kocur was forced to renege on his generosity.

Remaining Tour Dates and Clinic Schedule
Participating in the tour, in addition to members of the USA Men’s National Team, are a handful of international stars who have won a total of three
Olympic gold medals, one Olympic silver and two Olympic bronze medals.

For more information about Team USA and the World All-Stars, please visit http://www.usawaterpolo.com/~uswpstaff/world/index.htm

(Courtesy of Eric Velazquez and USA Water Polo. Posted by Michael Collins)

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