NEWPORT BEACH, CA, July 5, – That makes three. World champion and defending Olympic gold medalist Hungary now has been dealt three losses during Men's FINA World League play — one from each of its Group B cohorts.
USA Water Polo reports that on Monday at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif., the U.S. Men's National Team dealt Hungary its third loss in league competition with a thrilling 11-9 win in front of 1,755 fans. Aside from a slow third quarter, the U.S. men were hot-handed offensively and outgunned Hungary to post the upset win over the world power and 2003 World League champs. In the other Group B game of the day, Serbia and Montenegro downed Australia 11-5.
"This is the strongest I’ve seen the U.S. since 1997 when I started coaching Hungary," Hungarian coach Denes Kemeny said. "They are very strong and much improved in the last eight years."
There were power plays aplenty throughout the game, and the two teams took turns converting three straight from the start. Team USA caught the early momentum with three scores off the man advantage, only to have Hungary answer back with a trio of its own, leaving things locked at 3-3 for the second quarter. No one succeeded on the power plays in the third quarter, but with fewer such opportunities, the U.S. offense cooled down while Hungary was able to pump in three and take its first lead of the game. The cool-down lasted only one quarter, however, thanks in large part to U.S. hole man Ryan Bailey (Long Beach, CA/UC Irvine/Newport WPF), who fired in two of his game-high five goals during the fourth quarter. The fifth goal pushed Team USA ahead 10-9 with 1:31 left to play and all but locked down the win.
"This was a fantastic game. We had a few chances to go up by four early but they kept coming back," U.S. coach Ratko Rudic said. "The best part of today’s game was how we played at the end. We showed our determination to win and we did everything correct that you do if you want to win. This was definitely a good game for spectators. It was very emotional and intense.