USA Eliminated from Men's Water Polo Play After Loss to Spain

Barcelona, Spain - July 28 - The USA Men's National Team had their run at the FINA World Championships halted by the home team, falling to Spain 10-6 earlier today. The loss concludes Team USA's competition at the event under new guidelines that allow only the top eight teams to play out to a final standing. Janson Wigo (Fort Lauderdale, FL/Stanford/NYAC) scored three goals and goalkeeper Merrill Moses (Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) turned in a stellar performance stopping 20 shots including a penalty attempt. The United States had nearly erased a three goal deficit in the second half, drawing to within 7-6 with 6:38 to play in the fourth, only to see Spain score three straight to close out the match in front. The game will air on delay on Universal Sports later today at 6:30pm et/3:30pm pt.

Team USA started the match off strong going up against a raucous home crowd. Less than a minute into the match Spain drew a penalty only to have Moses tip the ball off the cross bar for a denial. On the very next possession Wigo found the net and the United States took a 1-0 lead. Spain answered moments later on a power play try to even the match at 1-1. With less than four minutes to play in the first and Spain on offense, Moses came up with four consecutive blocks, the last leading to a counter attack score for Tony Azevedo (Long Beach, CA/Stanford/NYAC) and a 2-1 lead. 

Spain responded with a goal a minute later to even the match at 2-2. They went ahead for the first time with a counter attack goal at the 1:45 mark to grab a 3-2 advantage. Following a double exclusion, Spain connected for a third straight goal and went up 4-2. Moses picked up two more saves at the end of the period to keep the deficit at two going to the second. 

Thirty seconds into the second period John Mann (Newport Beach, CA/California/NYAC) scooped up a rebound and stuffed it past the keeper for a power play strike, drawing the United States to within one at 4-3. On their next possession Spain drew a penalty and connected for a 5-3 lead. Four minutes later Wigo came through with a counter attack score and the deficit was back to one at 5-4, which would be the difference at halftime.

Early in the third Spain drew their third penalty and converted for a 6-4 lead. Then two minutes later Spain hit again, this time from the outside, for a 7-4 lead with 5:46 to play. With less than a minute to go in the period the United States began their rally as Wigo connected on a player advantage strike for a 7-5 game after three periods.

In the fourth Alex Obert (Loomis, CA/Pacific/Sac Polo) worked to draw a penalty at two meters and Azevedo converted for a 7-6 game. With 5:05 left in the match the United States appeared in position to tie, drawing consecutive exclusions on the same possession. Unable to convert, Spain took the ball the other way, drew an exclusion, and scored to take an 8-6 lead. Team USA would get no closer after that. Head Coach Dejan Udovicic was given a red card and sent from the match and Spain followed up with two straight goals for a 10-6 lead with 1:23 remaining. The United States would not manage another goal and Spain came away victorious.

Team USA went 2/11 on power plays and 1/1 on penalties while Spain was 2/6 on power plays and 2/3 on penalties. 

Scoring - Scoresheet
USA 6 (2, 2, 1, 1) J. Wigo 3, T. Azevedo 2, J. Mann 1
ESP 10 (4, 1, 2, 3)
Saves - USA - M. Moses 20
6x5 - USA - 2/11 - ESP 2/6
Penalties - USA - 1/1 - ESP 2/3

Flash Quotes
"They went on a little run and it was hard to catch up. The whole game, everyone of us put in 120 percent but it just wasn't enough against Spain today. They are a good team, they made all the shots they needed to make. They're a good team, we are a good team, and hopefully we'll see them again soon." Janson Wigo, USA Attacker

"You can't win a game when you give up ten goals, you can't win a game when you give up eight goals. That's something we need to work on the next couple of years." Janson Wigo, USA Attacker

"I think there is no reason for us to be ashamed, we tried to do our best here, we had a good first three matches and now we played a win or go home match. For this type of game we made so many crucial mistakes." Dejan Udovicic, USA Head Coach

"They (Spain) are a much more experienced team than us, they are together seven years, we started 60 days ago. I'm proud of my guys, we will suffer right now, but we will stand on our feet and continue and for sure we will be better because of this in years to come." Dejan Udovicic, USA Head Coach

"Nobody wants to a lose a match, we are a sport where everyone is trying to win, we must know this our place right now, we tried to push ourselves to the limit and this is part of the process. We need time to have experience to win this type of game. The difference between Spain and us is just experience." Dejan Udovicic, USA Head Coach


Greg Mescall
Director of Communications
USA Water Polo

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Huntington Beach, CA 92648

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