SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – The United States Men’s National Team fell behind early and fell short despite a furious fourth quarter rally, losing to World and Olympic champion Spain, 9-6, in its first game of the 1999 Men’s FINA World Cup.
Five-time Olympian Manuel Estiarte netted the only goal of the first period and followed with the first tally of the second. Kyle Kopp cut the lead to 2-1 with an extra-man goal at the 5:00 mark, but Ivan Perez, Estiarte and Sergei Pedrerol hit the net to extend the Spanish lead to 5-1 at halftime. Pedrerol’s goal came as the halftime buzzer sounded.
Wolf Wigo and Gavin Arroyo scored at 6:24 and 5:18 of the third to bring the United States to within 5-3, but Perez and Pedrerol answered and the lead was back to four goals in Spain’s favor. Kopp’s second goal of the game pulled the US to within 7-4 heading into the fourth quarter. Wigo scored an outside shot with just under five minutes to go, and Arroyo followed less than 40 seconds later for a 7-6 score. Pedrerol netted his third of the match, however, at 3:35 and the US was unable to pull any closer. Estiarte, the leading scorer in four Olympic Games, nailed his fourth of the match with 51 seconds remaining for the final 9-6 score.