Water Polo: US Men Fall to Spain and Italy

SYRACUSE, June 2. THE USA Men’s National Water Polo team lost twice today in the Trofeo de Siracusa, International Water Polo Tournament in Syracuse, Sicily. The losses came to Spain and Italy by scores of 7-1 and 6-3.

Spain jumped out to a 4-0 first period lead and extended their dominance to a 5-0 half-time advantage. The USA had no answers against Ivan Perez, the 6’7” 250 lb. Spanish center forward. Perez, a lefthander, dominated play in the Spanish offensive end, scoring two goals and setting up several others
by drawing ejections in the first half.

Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford ’04) broke the ice in the third period for the USA’s lone goal.

The featured game of the day was played against Italy before a standing room only crowd in excess of 1,800 and a national television audience. Ryan Bailey (Long Beach, CA/UC Irvine ’99) and Azevedo each scored in a closely contested first period, but the "Setebelle" or "Magnificent Seven," as the Italian National Team is called in Italy, gained a two goal advantage by

Bailey’s second goal at the start of the final period brought the USA within two goals, but the rally stopped there.

In spite of the loss, Merrill Moses (Rancho Palos Verdes/Pepperdine ’99), played outstanding in the goal for the USA, recording 14 saves, including two one on one blocks.

"We made too many critical mistakes against Spain," said coach Ratko Rudic. "Our game plan was to deny all goals from the center forward position and we gave up three in the first period alone. It is all right to make mistakes. I expect mistakes. But I also expect the players to learn from their mistakes and it is clear from the second game that we are continuing to


· Immediately prior to the morning’s game against Spain, the USA spent an hour in the weight room adjacent to the pool. "We went from the weight room right in to warm-up for the game," said Dan Klatt (Fresno, CA/UC Irvine ’

· The USA played without team captain Wolf Wigo, who returned to San Francisco Saturday morning. Wigo, who led the team in scoring at the Sydney Olympic Games with 16 goals, was held scoreless in a tournament for the first time in his international career, dating to 1995.

· In Wigo’s absence, high schooler Stephen Lipinski (Palo Alto, CA/St. Francis H.S.) got significant playing time and even won a sprint in the
Italian game. Lipinski is a C.I.F. sprint freestyle champion.
· "We really missed Wigo today," said Klatt.
"Forget about his scoring, he is our most experienced player and provides great leadership in the water."

· Ryan Bailey is tied for third in the tournament-scoring race with six goals. Tony Azevedo has five goals and is tied with five other players for
the fifth spot.

· Spanish center forward Ivan Perez retired from the Cuban national team and sat out a year of competition before Cuban officials would let him travel
abroad. While vacationing in Spain he married a Spaniard and immediately joined Barcelona CN, in the Spanish professional league. He missed his chance to play in the Sydney Olympic Games because he was three weeks shy of the three-year IOC transfer rule and the Cuban government would not grant him a waiver. Perez was voted outstanding offensive player at the 1991 FINA
Junior World Championships, hosted by the USA in Newport Beach. His father, Ivan Sr. and nicknamed the "Butcher" was one of the great center forwards in
the world in the 1970’s.

· Tonight’s standing room only crowd was 1,800 and the game was televised live on Italian National TV.


1 2 3 4 F
USA 0 0 1 0 1
ESP 4 1 2 0 7

USA: Tony Azevedo
ESP: Gabriel HERNANDEZ 2, Ivan PEREZ 2, Sergi PEDREROL, Ivan MORO, Javier
Saves: Kerr (USA) 5; Rollan (ESP) 10
Shots: USA 17, ESP 20
Power play: USA 1/7, ESP 2/5

1 2 3 4 F
USA 2 0 0 1 3
ITA 2 2 1 1 6

ITA: Francesco POSTIGLIONE 2, Fabrizio BUONOCORE, Maurizio FELUGO,
Saves: Moses (USA) 14; Attolico (ITA) 6
Shots: USA 17, ITA 30
Power play: USA 2/7, ESP 3/6
Other Games: CRO 9 AUS 5, ITA 13 NED 2, CRO8 NED 4, ESP 10 AUS 5, CRO 8 NED

Standings after 4 games
Team Pts G W T L G+ G- Diff
ITALIA 8 4 4 0 0 36 13 23
SPAGNA 6 4 3 0 1 35 23 12
USA 4 4 2 0 2 18 24 -6
CROAZIA 4 4 2 0 2 33 29 4
OLANDA 2 4 1 0 3 17 29 -12
AUSTRALIA 0 4 0 0 4 14 35 -21

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