Water Polo: US Women Tie Italy, Men Lose to Croatia

July 16. U.S. water polo fortunes sagged in matches in Europe today, with the men upset by Croatia but the women salvaging a tie with Italy.

USA Women Tie Italians, 5-5
The U.S. women's water polo team played 2001 World Champion Italy to a 5-5 tie in Siracusa on Tuesday at the Paldo Cardarella Pool. The game was played prior to the men's FINA World League game between Italy and Spain.

The U.S. led 4-1 at halftime, but Italy outscored them 3-0 in the third quarter to tie the score at 4-4. Both teams struck pay dirt in the fourth quarter, but neither was able to put the game away.

Brenda Villa tossed in three goals for the U.S., while Catharine von Schwarz buried two. Nicolle Payne notched seven saves in goal for the U.S.

Team USA will take on Italy again tomorrow night in Siracusa in the final game of the two-game set.

Italy 0 1 3 1 — 5
Team USA 1 3 0 1 — 5

Goal Scorers:
Brenda Villa 3
Catharine von Schwarz 2

Goal Saves:
Nicolle Payne 7

Player Advantage:
USA 2 for 7; 1 for 1 on penalty shots
Italy 3 for 8

RIJEKA, Croatia, July 16. THE U.S. men's water polo team was outdone on penalty shots after playing Croatia to an 8-8 tie at the Kantrida Pool in Rijeka (Croatia) on Tuesday. The loss was the third in the row for the U.S. in FINA World League play.

The U.S. fought to a 4-4 halftime tie before 1600 vociferous Croatian fans, but trailed by one goal heading into the fourth quarter. Croatia went up by two early in the fourth, but Layne Beaubien found U.S. hole man Ryan Bailey inside for a man-advantage goal to narrow the margin to one.

With 1:42 to play, Tony Azevedo dished to Jeff Powers on a cross pass. Powers promptly fired one past Croatian keeper Dalibor Percinic into the right corner to tie the score at 8-8.

In keeping with the FINA World League rules, the game went directly to five-meter penalty shots at the end of regulation. Croatia decided to make a substitution in goal, replacing Percinic with Miro Kacic. As it turned out, it was the right move for Croatia.

The U.S. shot first, and went up on a score by Azevedo. Stritof connected on Croatia's first attempt to tie the score at 9-9, but U.S. captain Wolf Wigo went bar out, giving Croatia a chance to go ahead.

Nikola Frankovic sent Croatia to a 10-9 lead, but Powers found the net on the next U.S. attempt to knot it at 10-10. Teo Dogas answered with a score of his
own to give Croatia the 11-10 edge, and Spencer Dornin and Larry Felix were both turned away by Kacic on their attempts.

Azevedo and Powers both connected for two goals apiece. Azevedo leads the league in scoring with 20 goals.

The U.S. remains in third place with a record of 2-5, but only by goal differential. Croatia boosted its record to 2-5 with the win, but remains in the four-slot with a -20 goal differential. The U.S. is now at

Russia (3-4) remains in second place and will be in action against Hungary again tomorrow (July 17). Hungary continues to stay in the driver's seat with a record of 7-0. The 2000 gold medalists will be playing its final four games of the season against the U.S., two in Budapest and two in Moraga (Calif.).

The U.S. will need a win over Croatia tomorrow and another Russian loss to go into the final round tied for second with Russia at 14 points. Only the top two teams from each bracket will advance to the Super Final in Greece (Aug. 1-4).

Team USA 1 3 1 3 — 8
Croatia 1 3 2 2 — 8

* Croatia wins on five-meter penalty shootout, 3-2.

Individual Scoring
Team USA: Azevedo 2, Powers 2, Bailey 1, Dornin 1, Segesman 1, Beaubien 1
Croatia: Vranjes 2, Stritof 2, Frankovic 1, Premus 1, Hinic 1, Dogas 1

Man Advantage Scoring
Team USA: 5 for 11
Croatia: 4 for 10

Goal Saves
Team USA: Kerr 11 (1 penalty save)
Croatia: Percinic 6, Kacic 2 (2 penalty saves)

Five-Meter Penalty Shoot Out
USA Goalkeeper: Genai Kerr
Croatia Goalkeeper: Miro Kacic

Team Shooter Result Score
USA Tony Azevedo Goal 9-8 USA
Croatia Ratko Stritof Goal 9-9
USA Wolf Wigo Bar Out 9-9
Croatia Nikola Frankovic Goal 9-10 Croatia
USA Jeff Powers Goal 10-10
Croatia Teo Dogas Goal 10-11 Croatia
USA Spencer Dornin Saved 10-11 Croatia
Croatia Kresimir Zubcic Saved 10-11 Croatia
USA Larry Felix Saved 10-11 Croatia

Attendance: 1600

Notable Quotes:
Ratko Rudic (USA Head Coach)
Our game is getting better every time we play. I am very happy to see us come from two goals down to tie the game and had our chance to win at the end. We now need to focus on the six-on-five, which is not satisfactory."

"I am satisfied with the game of my team. We played a very good defense, and there were various pportunities in the attack, too. But our weakest point was the extra player use, which was the reason for the final result. Both of the teams have played an equal game, and both of them could have won before the five meter shoot-out."

Layne Beaubien (USA Two-Meter Defender)
"We played well for four quarters tonight. No lapses and we eradicated the problems we had against the Russians. We are training hard through these games and are focusing on the FINA Cup."

Wolf Wigo (USA Driver and Team Captain)
"We like the FINA World League Rules, including the shoot-out, in spite of tonight's loss. The nine minute quarters and the additional rest allows the players to play at a higher level during the game, as in other sports. We all hope that FINA adopts these rules."

Tony Azevedo (USA Driver)
"We have played a good game, but it is difficult to play against Croatia in there own pool. But the fact, that we have reached the five meter shoot-outs, speaks for itself. "

Daniel Premus (Croatian Player)
"I agree with my coach's opinion, that we have played badly. But we controled the result until the final part of the game, so it is realy a shame that we have allowed the Americans to to catch up with us and to become a threat to our result. "

Veselin Duho (Croatian Head Coach)
"I think that we did not play any special game. Mistakes have happened, like beginners. Our concentration was very low during the final part of the game. I am not happy with the game of my players. But the result counts. To substitute the first
goalkeeper and to put Kacic in the goal during the five meter shoot-outs was the idea of my assistant Lusic. "

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