Los Alamitos, Calif., June 23, 2002—The USA men’s water polo team came out on the top end of an exclusion-marred game with Newport in the championship of the American Water Polo League at the USA Water Polo National Training Center in Los Alamitos on Sunday (June 23). By the end of the game, a total of 26 exclusions, one penalty, and two game ejections had been called. But once the water had settled, the U.S. had come away with the title in the first year of the AWPL.
Adam Wright started the day’s scoring with an extra-man goal from the point and Layne Beaubien gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead just a minute later with a goal from two meters. Ryan Bailey, who scored 14 goals in Round Robin play, buried the first Newport goal with 5:55 to play in the quarter.
The U.S. took a 4-2 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the period on a goal by Jeff Powers. A goal by Dan Klatt with 2:34 in the quarter brought Newport to within one at 4-3 and a goal by Marc Hunt just before the end of the quarter tied the game at 4-4. With 10 seconds to go, Hunt was excluded for Newport, setting up a six-meter penalty throw for the U.S. Wigo converted and the U.S. led, 5-4 at the end of the quarter.
Dreason Barry leveled the score at 5-5 on a one-on-one breakaway skipper past U.S. goalkeeper Merrill Moses with 3:43 to go in the third. Wigo regained the U.S. advantage on a six-meter penalty on the next possession and Bailey netted a six-meter of his own a minute later to tie the score at 6-6. Team USA’s Jeff Nesmith untied the knot with a goal on an interior pass by Spencer Dornin, but Newport earned a six-meter penalty with eight seconds left that was cashed in on by Bailey to tie the score again at 7-7 before the half.
The second half began the same as the first half ended…with an exclusion. Garret Gentry’s kickout set up an extra-man score by Wolf Wigo to give the U.S. an 8-7 lead with 7:21 in the quarter. A score by Layne Beaubien with 5:55 on the clock gave the U.S. a two-goal lead since early in the first quarter. However, Bailey’s fourth goal on the next possession cut the deficit to 9-8.
The U.S. led 11-9 heading into the fourth quarter. With 4:28 remaining in the game, Bailey was handed a game exclusion for misconduct, but U.S. keeper
Merrill Moses was called for a penalty, resulting in a six-meter penalty score by Hunt for Newport to make the score 11-10. At this point, due to the excessive physical nature of the game and continuing player reaction from the pool, the referees called the captains poolside to advise them that the game could be called if the misconduct kept up.
Brett Ormsby’s shot with 2:23 to go in the game, hit off of a field player and floated across the goal line to give the U.S. a 12-10 edge. But with 2:01 remaining in the contest, the referees called a halt to the game, giving the U.S. the 12-10, time-shortened victory.
Following the game, Ryan Bailey (18 goals) was named as the league’s Most Valuable Offensive Player. World All-Stars netminder Marco Gerini (39 saves) was named as the League’s Most Valuable Goalkeeper, while Team USA guard Layne Beaubien took home Most Valuable Defender honors.
Team USA will be back together next Friday (June 28) as they take on Croatia in the debut of the FINA World Water Polo League at the USA Water Polo National Aquatic Center in Los Alamitos at 7:00 p.m. The teams will meet up again on Sunday (June 30) at 5:00 p.m. in the final meeting between the two on U.S. soil. FINA World League tickets are still on sale and can be purchased by contacting the City of Los Alamitos at 562-430-1073, by calling the USWP National Office at 719-634-0699, or by logging on to www.usawaterpolo.com
The All-Stars took third place over Long Beach with a 13-7 win. Long Beach Shore got on the board first with a goal by Aaron Holloway with 6:56 to go in the first quarter, but the All-Stars went on to score four unanswered and never looked back. Alberto Ghibellini scored three goals in a balanced All-Stars attack that saw nine players break into the score column. All-Stars goalkeeper Marco Gerini tallied nine saves, including one on a penalty shot attempt by Shore. Holloway, Albert Garcia, and Chris Segesman each had two goals in the loss for Long Beach.