Olympics: Alex Wolf Makes 13 Saves, U.S. Spreads Offense in Drubbing South Africa

Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; USA player Max Irving (12) in mens water polo group A play during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports
U.S. Water Polo's Max Irving; Photo Courtesy: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Olympics: Alex Wolf Makes 13 Saves, U.S. Spreads Offense in Drubbing South Africa

Ben Hallock led an offensive parade with four goals, and Alex Wolf stopped 13 shots in his Olympic debut as the U.S. men’s water polo team routed South Africa, 20-3, on Tuesday.

Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; USA player Alex Wolf (1) makes a save in mens water polo group A play during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

U.S. Water Polo’s goalie Alex Wolf; Photo Courtesy: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Stevenson and Johnny Hooper each tallied hat tricks as nine Americans scored to advance them to 2-0 in pool play. Game 2 was considerably less dramatic than the 15-13 margin required to get past Japan in the opener.

Wolf was solid, not allowing a goal in the first quarter and preventing South African from a multi-goal quarter. That gave the offense room to operate, leading 12-1 at halftime. He stepped in for Drew Holland, who played against Japan.

Stevenson scored all three of his goals in the nine-goal second-quarter outburst. Hooper added a pair, including the goal that put the U.S. up 5-0. Dylan Woodhead and Hannes Daube scored in the final minute of the half to deepen the hole for South Africa.

Daube, Woodhead, Alex Bowen and Max Irving scored twice each for the U.S.

“It just felt great,” captain Jesse Smith, a five-time Olympian, said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I feel really lucky and grateful that we have the Games going on. It’s been a tough year, for everybody, so it felt really good to get a game in, you know, as an athlete. I’m going to play these games as hard as I can, play for my teammates, and I’m just super grateful to have the opportunity to play.”

The U.S. was ruthless on the power play, converting on eight of 10 opportunities. They also cashed in two of three penalty shots.