SYRACUSE, Italy. June 1. RYAN BAILEY, (Long Beach, CA/UCI ’99) the six foot six, two-hundred and fifty pound center forward, powered the USA to a 6-5 victory over the Netherlands at the Trofeo de Siracusa, a six nation international water polo tournament taking place in Syracuse on Sicily.
Bailey scored two natural goals and drew two penalty shots, which were converted by Jeremy Pope (Fresno, CA/Pepperdine ’99) and Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford ’04), to lead the USA to their second consecutive win in the tournament.
Jeff Powers (San Luis Obispo, CA/UCI ’01) scored on the first possession of the game to give the USA an early lead, but Holland came back to score two goals. Bailey responded with his first goal at 4:39 in the second period to tie the game. Then Uri put Holland back on top. Bailey drew his first 4-meter penalty with a minute to go in the half and Pope converted to tie the score at three.
Tony Azevedo scored on a power play to begin the third period and then converted the second 4-meter penalty drawn by Bailey for a 5-3 USA lead before Bailey scored his second goal for a 6-3 lead.
The USA defense was lead by goalkeeper Merrill Moses (Coronado CA/UC Irvine ’99), who was making his international debut with the first team.
“We are very tired,” said coach Ratko Rudic, “and offensively were not sharp tonight. In the third period we played very well, but the concentration went down again in the final period. Psychologically, we must learn to maintain our focus.”
Tomorrow will be a very difficult day for the team. After breakfast they will spend an hour in the weight room and go directly to the pool to play Spain. They then play Italy in a nationally (in Italy) televised game during the evening.
“Tomorrow will be a test as we play the two best teams in the tournament,” said Rudic. “We will see. Who knows? We are here to train and mistakes are good. This is excellent preparation for the World Championships next month. We are playing much better than I expected at this point and I believe we will have a very strong team in Japan.”
· USA Team captain Wolf Wigo, returns to the USA tomorrow morning to take care of business obligations and will miss the final three game of the tournament. He returns to Italy on Monday to rejoin the team for combined training with the Italian and Croatian National teams.
· The Dutch entered the Sydney Olympic Games with a young team and are showing promise as medal contenders for the 2004 Olympic Games. Last night
they completely outclassed the Australians, so tonight’s win for the USA was very satisfying.
· Ratko Rudic is still very much a celebrity with the Italian media. When he was the coach in Rome, he hosted his own TV program and gained national
celebrity in 1994 when he jumped in the water to break up a fight between the Italian and Hungarian players during the gold medal match of the FINA World Championships.
· Attendance at tonight’s game was over 1,600. Tomorrow night’s game will be nationally televised in Italy.
1 2 3 4 F
USA 1 2 3 0 6
NED 1 2 1 1 5
USA: Bailey 2, Azevedo 2, Pope, Powers
NED: Uri 2, Van Der Meer, Scheffer, Havenga
Saves: Moses (USA) 9; Van de Bunt (CRO) 5
Shots: USA 15, NED 25
Power play: USA 2/4, NED 4/8
Penalty shots: USA 2/2, NED 1/1
Other Games: Yesterday’s late games: ITA 7 ESP 6, NED 6 AUS 2.
Tonight’s other games: ESP12 CRO 10, ITA 10 AUS 2