LA ROMANA, March 25. IN a low scoring match this
afternoon, teenage sensation Tony Azevedo Stanford '04/Long Beach, CA) scored three goals to lead the USA to a tough come from behind, 5-2 win over
Canada in the opening round of FINA World Championship Qualification tournament being staged in the coastal resort of La Romana in the Dominican Republic.
Azevedo scored the first goal of the game at 4:12 of the first period to give the USA a 1-0 lead. The game went scoreless for the next sixteen minutes. The USA missed several opportunities due to outstanding play by Thibeault, the Canadian Goalkeeper. At the other end, USA keeper Genai Kerr made several outstanding saves and steals, but most of the Canadian shots
sailed over the cage.
In the water, it was a very physical game. The referees allowed the teams to over-press on defense. Wrestling and holding was allowed to continue without
the offenders being punished on either side, much to the disappointment of the large crowd that was hoping to see some offensive firepower. Only nine exclusions were called in the game.
At 2:01 of the third period Canada's Hardisty snuck behind the defense, received a brilliant pass and scored over Kerr to tie the game. At :48, Canada's 6'8", 260 lb. two-meter man, Adam Sidky, scored as Kerr and Schumacher tried to drown him. Sidky's goal and Canada's lead brought a big roar from the crowd. But on the next possession, Azevedo scored his second
powerplay goal of the game to knot the score at two after three.
At the start of the fourth period, Azevedo broke free on a counterattack and after receiving a 25 yard strike from Kerr, drove to the cage and powered the ball past Thibeault for a 3-2 USA lead. Goals by Sean Kern (UCLA '01/Honolulu, HI) and Jeff Powers (UCI '01/ San Luis Obispo, CA) in the final minute ended the suspense.
"There was a lot of tension before the game and I thought we came out a little tight, said Azevedo. "It's tough to start a tournament knowing that you have to win the first game and knowing that if you lose it's a very long tournament. Now we can breath easier."
"This was a very good experience for our young players," said Ratko Rudic, the USA Coach. "There was a lot at stake in this game and our players were a little tight. We have to do a better job of preparing mentally for this type of game. When you try too hard not to make mistakes you tend to make them."
1 2 3 4 F
USA 1 0 1 3 5
CAN 0 0 2 0 2
USA: Azevedo 3, Kern, Powers
CAN: Sidky, Hardisty
Saves: USA Kerr 5, CAN Thibeaux 11
Powerplay: USA 3/6, CAN 0/3
Shots: USA 20, CAN 20
Other results: BRA 10, ARG 1; CUB 20 DR 4
Monday's games: ARG vs. USA, CUB vs. CAN, BRA vs. DR
Standings after Day 1
Place Country Win Loss Tie Goals + Goals – DIF
1 CUB 1 0 0 20 4 16
2 BRA 1 0 0 10 1 9
3 USA 1 0 0 2 5 -3
5 ARG 0 1 0 1 10 -9
6 DR 0 1 0 4 20 -16
Check out our feature Product !!