Water Polo: USA Falls To Italy In French Open

Nice, France – The USA Men's National Team lost to Italy in the French Open. The French Open starts the 2000 international competitive season, which will conclude with the Sydney Olympic Games, September 15 through October 1.

The USA held a 4-2 lead with 1:22 left in the second quarter on two goals by Chris Humbert (Lodi, CA) and scores by Chris Oeding (Newport Beach, CA) and Brad Schumacher (Bowie, MD) before Italy scored five straight goals to take a 7 – 4 lead. Ryan Bailey (Long Beach, CA) scored with :02 seconds remaining
in the third to close the gap to 7-5.

The USA's Wolf Wigo (New York, NY) brought the USA to within one on a penalty
shot with 5:40 left in the game, but that was the closest the USA would get.

"We had five power play opportunities in the fourth quarter and came up
empty," said coach John Vargas.

Wigo's penalty shot came after an unusual series of events that left the
officials and crowd on hand shaking their heads and praising the quick
thinking of Italian coach Ratko Rudic. At 6:02 of the fourth quarter,
Sottani of Italy was excluded and Coach Vargas called time out. At 5:40,
Gerini was assessed a penalty shot and was subsequently excluded for
disrespect. Meanwhile, Sottani, who was apparently watching the action in
front of the cage and did not realize his penalty had expired remained in the
penalty area. Ratko Rudic, the Italian coach immediately recognized an
opportunity and substituted Tempesti, his second goalkeeper, for Sottani.
Although Wigo's shot scored, the situation of having one red cap in the goal
and another one in the penalty area was something many long-time observers of
the sport had never seen before.

The USA star Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA) was suffering from an intestinal
flu and did not suit up for tonight's game. He is expected to return to the
line-up for tomorrow's game against Kazakstan. The USA needs a win over
Kazakhstan to advance to the semi-finals on Saturday.


1 2 3 4 F
USA 1 3 1 1 6
ITA 0 3 4 1 8

ITA: Calceterra 2, Postiglione, Bencevenga, Lisi, Angelini, Sottani, Silipo
USA: Humbert 2, Bailey, Oeding, Schumacher, Wigo (P)
Saves: USA Hackett 7; ITA Tempesti 6, Gerini 1
Powerplay: USA 3/10, ITA 4/7
Other Games: Ger 9 Kaz 7; Aus 6 Rus 10 ; Fr 7, Can5
Bracket Play: "A" Italy, Germany, USA, Kasakhstan; "B" Russia, Canada,
Australia, France