Chicago, IL – June 9 – For the second straight match Team USA’s Luca Cupido (Newport Beach, CA/California/Newport) was the hero as the attacker scored a game winning goal as time expired to complete a four game sweep of Serbia. In front of a standing room only, sell out crowd at the University of Illinois, Chicago, Team USA emerged a 14-13 winner in a physical finale to the common training series. Cupido and Bret Bonanni (Huntington Beach, CA/Stanford/Stanford) led the offense with four goals each while McQuin Baron (North Tustin, CA/USC/Regency) went all four quarters in net with 11 saves.
The first quarter started off slow. Serbia’s Andrija Prlainovic scored first but Bonanni quickly answered to tie the score at one. Cupido then pulled the USA ahead with 48 seconds left but Gavril Subotic’s man up goal tied the score at three with just seven seconds remaining in the quarter.
Team USA started off the second quarter strong with goals by Alex Bowen (Santee, CA/Stanford/Stanford) and Bonanni, his second of the game, giving the United States a 4-2 lead early. With less than three minutes remaining Serbia’s Mandic and Subotic made it 4-4. USA’s Cupido regained a 5-4 lead for his team but Serbia answered with two quick goals making it 6-5 Serbia at the half.
Connor Virjee’s (Rolling Hills, CA/USC/Trojan) first goal of the game evened the score at six early in the third quarter and Bonanni then capitalized on a 5-meter penalty shot to pull the USA ahead 7-6. Serbia’s Filip Filipovic answered on a man up advantage to tie the game back up at seven. Virjee, Cupido, and Bonanni each followed with a goal a piece giving the USA a three goal lead with 3:33 remaining. Serbia’s Nikola Jaksic scored his second goal of the game cutting the USA’s lead to 10-8. Virjee followed up with his third goal in the quarter making it 11-8 USA. Serbia responded with two quick goals. The USA remainined in front at 11-10 after three quarters.
Two goals by Mandic pulled Serbia ahead early in the final quarter. Alex Roelse (Maarssen, Netherlands/UCLA/Bruin) answered for the United States to tie it at 12 followed by John Mann’s (Newport Beach, CA/California/NYAC) goal to give them a 13-12 lead. With just 31 seconds remaining in the game, Serbia’s Filipovic capitalized on a power play goal to tie the game. Cupido was tonight’s hero with a game-winning goal with no time remaining in the game.
Notes: The four quarters featured a host of physical play that saw Subotic excluded from the match for Serbia and Strahinja Rasovic leave the game with an injury. Goalkeeper Merrill Moses (Palos Verdes, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) did not travel with the team to Chicago. This was the first time a USA Water Polo Senior National Team played in Chicago since 2002 when the Women’s Senior National Team held competitions at UIC and Northwestern.
Scoring – Scoresheet
USA 14 (2, 4, 4, 3) L. Cupido 4, B. Bonanni 4, C. Virjee 3, A. Roelse 1, A. Bowen 1, J. Mann 1
SRB 13 (2, 3, 6, 3) D. Mandic 3, F. Filipovic 2, N. Jaksic 2, G. Subotic 2, Z. Gocic 1, S. Nikic 1, M. Aleksic 1, A. Prlainovic 1
Saves – USA – M. Baron – 11 – SRB – B. Mitrovic 5, G. Pijetlovic 1
6×5 – USA – 4-13 – SRB 1-10
Penalties – USA 1/1 – SRB 0/0