Water Polo: USA Downs Brazil 7-5

LA ROMANA, Dominican Republic. March 27. WOLF Wigo (Stanford '95/NY, NY & SF, CA) scored three goals and Genai Kerr (UC Irvine '99/Coronado, CA) recorded 12 saves in the goal to lead to the USA to a hard fought 7-5 win over Brazil at the FINA World Championship Qualification tournament in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

It was a very physical game whose outcome was in doubt until the closing minute of the game.

Brazil, the recently crowned South American Champions, put the first goal on the board and held a 1-0 lead at the conclusion of the first period. Wigo scored from outside of seven meters to knot the score, but less than a minute later, Galindo batted Kerr's block into the cage to give Brazil a 2-1 lead.

Jeff Powers (UC Irvine '01/San Luis Obispo, CA) and Wigo, both playing on the perimeter, passed back and forth for six passes to set up Powers shot and score from six meters to tie the score at 2. Two meter man Ryan Bailey Bailey (UC Irvine '99/Long Beach, CA) scored a natural game from the hole thirty seconds later to give the USA a 3-2 lead that stood to the half.

Chris Segesman (CSULB '01/Goleta, CA) scored on a counterattack goal at 3:24 of the third period and Ryan Bailey leaped high out of the water to retrieve a cross pass from Omar Amr (UC Irvine '00/Fullerton, CA) to extend the USA lead to three at 5-2. But with :37 seconds left in the third period, Brazil's Vieira snuck in behind the defense, received a pass and shot past Kerr making it 5-3 at the end of three.

On their first possession of the final period, Vieira drove inside, got open, received a pass and this time was awarded and converted a penalty shot to close the gap to a single goal. The USA responded on their next possession when Tony Azevedo (Stanford '04/Long Beach, CA) drove and drew an exclusion. Wigo scored, but the USA two goal lead was short lived as Perroner scored at 4:34 to bring the Brazilians back to within one goal again.

At 3:21, Wigo drew an exclusion on a drive and USA coach Ratko Rudic called time out. When play resumed, the USA executed their powerplay with flawless
precision that ended with Wigo's third goal and final score of the game.

Notes:

· Brazil's women's team forced a three game series to determine the team from the Americas for the World Championships by beating Cuba 9-5. The USA and Canada have already qualified. Cuba came out strong but missed on numerous opportunities allowing Brazil to take a comfortable lead into the fourth period. Former USA Women's National Team coach is coaching the
Brazilian team.

RESULTS
1 2 3 4 F
USA 0 3 2 2 7
BRA 1 1 1 2 5

Goals:
USA: Wigo 3, Bailey 2, Powers, Segesman
BRA: Vieira 2, Galindo, Seabra, Perroner
Saves: USA Kerr 12, BRA Cordeiro 7
Powerplay: USA 3/10, BRA 1/3, 1/1 Penalty shot
Shots: USA 22, BRA 23
Other results: MEN – CAN vs. DR; CUB vs. Argentina (Late games)
WOMEN – BRA 9, CUB 6
Coming up Wednesday: USA vs. DR
Standings after Day 2
Place Country Win Loss Tie Goals + Goals – DIF
1 USA 3 0 0 23 9 14
2 BRA 2 1 0 15 8 7
3 CUB* 1 1 0 28 13 15
4 CAN* 1 1 0 11 13 -2
5 ARG* 0 2 0 1 10 -9
6 DR* 0 2 0 4 20 -16
* Day 3 results not included

Quotes:
Ratko Rudic (USA Coach): " Today's game was the same story as the last two games. We created many chances and opportunities to score but didn't covert them early in the game. But everything is as I expected. We are not playing great, but well enough to win. Our opponents have all played very tough against us, perhaps more than the rules permit, but we have had to adjust and we have. Psychologically we are doing very well and in the critical situations our players have risen to the challenge. All signs are positive but it is clear that we have to have more competition."

Ryan Bailey: "I was able to draw a lot of exclusions early in the game, but then they put a smaller, quicker hole guard in who was able to front me. He was very aggressive and did a really good job of making it appear that I was committing an offensive foul. It took me a couple of periods to adjust. He
(Perrone) was a very difficult opponent."

Ryan Bailey: "We were very confident going into this tournament and this game that we would win. Even when we were behind early everything was positive on our side. Brazil was a very fast, physical and difficult team but the outcome was never in doubt."

Wolf Wigo: "We knew coming into this tournament that four tough games and Brazil would be our toughest opponent. They're a tough, veteran team that presses hard and has a good counterattack, but we were in control of the game throughout. Three down and one to go (Cuba on Friday) and we go to Japan."

Omar Amr: "This was the toughest game of the tournament for me. Brazil is a tough team and my job was to swim both ways as fast as I could. To wear out
their defense and protect us against their counter-attack. Our defense is playing very well, but on offense we haven't played long enough together to jell and take advantage of the opportunities we are creating."

Jesse Smith (Coronado HS '01/Coronado, CA): On his first start for the USA National Team. "It was very exciting but I am disappointed in the way I played today. The international game is much quicker and much more physical than I'm used to and the officiating is quite a bit different too."

Genai Kerr: "Today's game show why Wolf (Wigo) is our captain. Every time we needed a goal in critical situations, he scored."

Tony Azevedo: On playing Brazil (His father, assistant coach Rick Azevedo, played for the Brazilian National Team and he knows many of the Brazilian players). "I always like playing against Brazil, they are a very good team and much improved over last year. It would be very good for us to play them more often."

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Author: Archive Team

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