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World Championships: Third-Quarter Slump Dooms U.S. to Loss to Serbia

Francesco Di Fulvio of Italy; Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

World Championships: Third-Quarter Slump Dooms U.S. to Loss to Serbia

A third-quarter slump saw a halftime lead evaporate for the U.S. men’s water polo team in a 14-12 loss to Serbia on Friday at the World Championships in Doha.

The loss is the Americans’ second at the tournament. They enter Sunday’s crossover round against Italy to play for a spot in the quarterfinals. A loss would drop them into the 9-13 placement bracket.

Things were going well for the U.S. Friday at halftime, leading 7-5 at the break. Max Irving stretched that to 8-5 just after the break. But two goals from Dusan Mandic powered a 6-0 spurt to end the quarter and put Serbia up 11-8.

Dylan Woodhead briefly stopped the bleeding. But back-to-back goals by Strahinja Rasovic and Nikola Jaksic made it 13-9 and all but ended hopes of a comeback.

Irving scored three times, as did Hannes Daube, though the latter took 10 shots to get there. Daube added two assists. Woodhead and Ryder Dodd scored twice each. Drew Holland made five saves.

Mandic led Serbia with three goals and four assists. Djordje Vucinic and Jaksic scored three times each. Radoslav Filipovic made nine saves.

Serbia finished atop Group C, with Montenegro getting second place after edging out Japan, 13-11. The game was tied at half until Montenegro scored the only four goals in the third quarter. Japan scored six times in the fourth to keep things interesting. Dusan Matkovic led Montenegro with four goals, and Peter Tesanovic stopped nine shots. Taiyo Watanabe scored five times for Japan.

The U.S. plays Italy, the second-place team in Group D, in Sunday’s crossover. Italy finished up its group play by pushing past a game Romania side, 16-10. The Romanians were within one at half but Italy held them to three goals after the break. Francesco di Fulvio led the offense with five goals.

Spain, Greece and Hungary joined Serbia among the group winners.

Spain pulled away from Australia, 15-9, to claim Group A. Unai Aguirre stopped 12 shots to help Spain to a 9-4 margin after the break. Alberto Munarriz, Miguel de Toro and Fran Valera each registered hat tricks.

Croatia sealed second in that group with a 29-6 win over South Africa. Jerko Marinic Kragic led the scoring parade with five goals.

Greece needed to beat France in a final day thriller to top Group B. Angelos Vlachopoulos scored with 51 seconds left on a penalty goal, breaking the seventh tie of the game and third of the fourth quarter. He scored two goals to go with three assists. Konstantinos Genidounias added two goals and four helpers. Romain Marion-Vernoux scored four times for France.

Hungary rode five goals and three assists from Vince Vigvari and four goals each from Daniel Angyal and Adam Nagy to a 28-1 rout of Kazakhstan.

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