Water Polo Olympic Recap: U.S. Gets First Win; Brazil Pulls Upset

Photo Courtesy: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

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By Dan D’Addona

The U.S. men’s water polo team earned its first victory at the 2016 Rio Olympics on Wednesday, topping France 6-3 in a rain-filled match and green pool water.

McQuin Baron, who had seen some action in goal off the bench, earned his first start and led the U.S. to victory with 11 saves, including nine in the first half.

With the win, the U.S. improved to 1-2 and are tied for third in Group B and will face Montenegro on Friday.

The U.S. took control in the second quarter with four unanswered goals, turning a 1-1 tie to a 5-1 halftime lead. Josh Samuels scored twice in the second quarter and added another in the fourth quarter.

Luca Cupido, John Mann and Jesse Smith each added goals for the Americans.

France dropped to 0-3 and will face Spain on Friday.

Brazil 6, Serbia 5

In the biggest upset of the tournament so far, host Brazil knocked off medal-favorite Serbia 6-5 on Wednesday, putting the host team (3-0) into the quarterfinals for the first time since 1920.

Gustavo Guimaraes drew a foul and got a penalty shot with 46 seconds remaining in the game. He found the back of the net for the win.

Brazil goalie Slobodan Soro made one final save to seal the upset.

Serbia dropped to 0-1-2 and will need to win both of its remaining pool play games to have a chance at making the quarterfinals. Serbia faces Australia on Friday.

Spain 9, Croatia 4

The defending gold medalists were also upset on Friday as Spain knocked off Croatia 9-4.

Spain scored four goals in the fourth quarter to roll past Croatia, which managed just one in the final period.

Gonzalo Echenique led Spain (2-1-0) with four goals. Spain will face France on Friday.

Croatia dropped to 2-1-0 and will face Italy on Friday.

Hungary 8, Greece 8

Another tie in Group A could create some interesting scenarios with two matches remaining in pool play. Hungary and Greece tied 8-8 Wednesday, stunningly the third consecutive tie for Hungary and the second tie for Greece in three matches.

With five seconds remaining in the game, Greece’s Angelos Vlachopoulos fired a long shot past Hungary’s Viktor Nagy to force the tie. Vlachopoulos had been injured earlier in the game, taking a shot attempt in the face.

It capped a wild fourth quarter that saw five goals and three ties.

Vlachopoulos scored three goals.

Balazs Harai led Hungary with three goals. The Hungarians are 0-0-3 and will face Japan Friday. Greece (1-0-2) will face Brazil.

Italy 6, Montenegro 5

Italy survived the battle of defense, hanging on for a 6-5 win over Montenegro on Wednesday to remain unbeaten.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the goals were few and far between with Italy leading 4-2.

Montenegro’s Drasko Brguljan scored with 1:31 remaining in the game to cut Italy’s lead to one, but that is where it remained.
Francesco Di Fulvio scored three goals for Italy (3-0-0), which will face top-ranked Croatia on Friday. Stefano Tempesti made seven saves for the Italians.

Montenegro dropped to 1-2, despite having allowed just 18 goals in three games, the lowest total in the tournament, and will facet the U.S. on Friday.

Australia 8, Japan 6

Australia scored three goals in the first five minutes of the second half to hold off Japan 8-6 on Wednesday.

The match was tied 3-3 at halftime. Joe Kayes scored four goals to lead Australia. Aaron Younger added three, while goalie Joel Dennerley made nine saves. The win puts Australia in a position where it will advance to the quarterfinals as long as the team doesn’t lose both remaining pool play games.

Japanese goalie Katsuyuki Tanamura made 13 saves. Koji Takei and Keigo Okawa each scored twice for Japan, which dropped to 0-3 and will face Hungary on Friday and need two wins and help to make the quarterfinals.

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Author: Daniel D'Addona

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Dan D'Addona is the lead college swim writer for Swimming World. He has covered swimming at all levels since 2003, including the NCAA championships, USA nationals, Duel in the Pool and Olympic trials. He is a native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a graduate of Central Michigan University. He currently lives in Holland, Michigan, where he also is the Sports Editor at The Holland Sentinel.

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