Olympics: USA Men’s Water Polo’s Journey Ends in Quarterfinal Loss

Aug 4, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Team Spain centre forward Roger Tahull Compte (9) celebrates a goal against USA in a men's water polo quarterfinal during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Spanish forward Roger Tahull Compte celebrates a goal against the U.S. on Wednesday in the men's water polo quarterfinals; Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: USA Men’s Water Polo’s Journey Ends in Quarterfinal Loss

The USA men’s water polo team’s medal quest ground to a halt Wednesday in Tokyo with a 12-8 loss to Spain.

The U.S. came up small in the fourth quarter, with Spain running away to the tune of a 5-2 margin in the final 10 minutes. The loss drops the U.S. into the fifth- to eight-place semifinals on Friday against Italy, which dropped a 10-6 decision to Serbia Wednesday. The highest the U.S. can finish is fifth.

Aug 4, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Team United States driver Hannes Daube (5) throws the ball against Spain in a men's water polo quarterfinal during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

USA men’s water polo player Hannes Daube shoots during a quarterfinal match with Spain Wednesday; Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Hannes Daube scored three times for the U.S., and Alex Wolf made eight saves, but it wasn’t enough. The U.S. failed to solve goalie Daniel Lopez Pinedo, the 41-year-old three-time Olympian who made 11 shots. Four Spanish players scored twice each.

“He’s amazing, 41 years old, wow,” Spanish coach Felipe Perrone said. “He deserved it. I am with him every day. I see how he works and I’m so happy to share this moment with him.”

The game was tied after one quarter and one half, but Spain pulled ahead with the only goal of the third quarter, via Bernat Sanahuja at 6:56 of the frame. The U.S. came up empty on four shots in the frame.

“We were great,” said U.S. coach Dejan Udovicic, somewhat puzzlingly. “I’m proud of my guys. Unfortunately we didn’t make it in the end. I just think two or three situations went for their side. They’ve got more experience playing these games. We were close.”

Alberto Munarriz Egana scored to make it 8-6 early in the fourth, and Luca Cupido briefly got the U.S. within 8-7, but that was the closest they got.

Daube scored all three of his goals in quick succession between the first and second quarters. Spain went up 3-1 before Daube scored three straight to make it 4-3. That would be the U.S.’s last – and only – lead at 6:23 of the second quarter. Alex Obert scored twice for the U.S. Alex Wolf stopped eight of the 20 shots to come his way.

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