The USA Men’s Water Polo Team fought back from a three-goal deficit but still fell to improving Australia, 10-9, on day two of the FINA World League Super Final in Bergamo, Italy on Wednesday. The loss puts the Americans at 0-2 in group play with a match against hosts Italy on Thursday.
The Sharks looked well underway to a solid win over USA, but the Americans shifted the momentum in the third period on two straight goals from Josh Samuels and made it a close and tense finish. Goals went back and forth in the close contest with Aaron Younger stepping up for the Aussie Sharks. He scored a penalty shot and finished off a beautiful tough drive from the left wing to give Australia a 9-7 lead which looked be more or less decisive. USA captain Tony Azevedo however had other plans and was quick to convert a defensive error by the Aussies to cut the dificit to 9-8 with a minute remaining but the Australia defence then held on. And when Nathan Power scored with 27 seconds remaining the victory was there for the Aussie Sharks, despite a late consolation goal by Alex Bowen with 19 seconds to go for the 10-9 final score.
Brazil kicked off day 2 of action in Bergamo, Italy at the World League Super Final tournament by adding a 2nd win to their total. After their big win over Croatia on Tuesday, the Ratko Rudic coached side defeated China 15-7 in a solid performance on Wednesday to boost their ranking in group A after two matches. The Brazilians saw China hanging on nicely inthe opening period before they took command in the second session and walked away after the break. Guilhermo Gomes and centre-forward Josip Vrlic led the winners scoring 3 goals apiece. Chu Feng Zhang was on target for China leading all scorers with 4.
Croatia rebounded nicely from their surprising opening day loss to Brazil by topping Hungary in a high-scoring encounter: 12-15. The victory was well deserved. The Croats used a superior opening period in which the Hungarians were simply struggling to get through the Croatian defence while the Croatian shots and centre-forward action were efficient. The game got more balanced as it progressed through the second and third period but Croatia was enjoying a seemingly comfortable advantage which could not be endangered by the Hungarian side no matter what they tried. The reigning Olympic champions simply looked to have found the answers on Wednesday. Sandro Sukno showed his class once more as he was on target leading the Croatian attack with 4 goals while striker Antonio Petrovic and lefty Maro Jokovic added 3 each for the winners. Fellow lefthanders Norbert Madaras and Marton Vamos scored 3 goals apiece for Hungary in the loss.
The conclusion to day 2 of the World League Super Final turned out to be a proper one. Hosts Italy faced defending champs Serbia and produced a real specatacle in front of a enthuastic home crowd. Undoubtedly the start was for the Serbs who jumped out to a commanding 5-2 lead in the opening period as they simply seemed more ready to play than the Italian squad. Coach Alessandro Campagna clearly understood the importance of this game with regards to the tournament and fired up his squad going into the second quarter. This seemd to work as the Italian defence caused Serbia more and more trouble while on offence, despite a numerous number of offensive turnover calls, shots were beginning to fall as the game became a dogfight. That went on in the third period where Italy finally could make their little comeback, required after the sloppy start, as Serbia now all of a sudden found the game which they had in command in the first phase hanging in the balance with just one more quarter to go. The Italians seemed ready for it but individual efforts made the difference, so it turned out.
Goals were flying back and forth but Serbia made the decisive little run scoring two straight goals within the last 5 minutes after the game was tied 9-9 by hard-working and excelling centre-forward Matteo Aicardi who shook off two defenders and Serbian goalie Gojko Pijetlovic with a beautiful drive and lob at the 7-minute mark. The response by Serbia minutes later though was huge. Milos Cuk scored a sharp distance shot on man-up, followed by the moment of Dusan Mandic who fired two rockets on two consecutive possessions off a free throw from six metres out to first give Serbia an 11-9 lead and moments later restoring the 2-goal advantage to 12-10, after Pietro Figlioli had scored in between. That 12-10 score proved decisive, especially after Dusko Pijetlovic powered one home in the following attack for Serbia giving them a 3-goal edge with 2.30 to play. Francesco di Fulvio scored his 3rd from distance in the next possession but centre-forward Slobodan Nikic scored a powerful but gracious lob at the 2-minute mark to ensure the win would remain to be Serbia’s. Captain Zivko Gocic got his goal with 1.17 on a defensive error by Italy but the great encounter by then was already played. Serbia posted their second win and look well underway of winning the group. Australia awaits Thursday.
2015 FINA Men’s World League Super Final
Schedule and results
Wednesday, 24 June
Brazil vs. China 15-7 (3-2, 6-3, 4-1, 2-1)
Brazil scorers: Guilherme Gomes 3, Josip Vrlic 3, Bernardo Gomes 2, Adria Delgado 2, Felipe Perrone 2, Ives Alonso, Felipe Santos, Gustavo Guimaraes.
China scorers: Chu Feng Zhang 4, Wenhui Lu, Li Li, Ze Kai Xie.
Hungary vs. Croatia 12-15 (2-5, 3-4, 3-3, 4-3)
Hungary scorers: Norbert Madaras 3, Marton Vamos 3, Norbert Hosnyanszky 3, Denes Varga 2, Balazs Harai.
Croatia scorers: Sandro Sukno 4, Antonio Petrovic 3, Maro Jokovic 3, Luka Loncar 2, Luka Bukic, Ante Vukicevic, Andro Buslje.
Australia vs. USA 10-9 (2-1, 2-0, 2-4, 4-4)
Australia scorers: Aaron Younger 5, Johnno Cotterill 2, Nathan Power, Jarrod Gilchrist.
USA scorers: Tony Azevedo 3, Bret Bonanni 3, Josh Samuels 2, Alex Bowen.
Serbia vs. Italy 15-11 (5-2, 3-3, 1-3, 6-3)
Serbia scorers: Dusan Mandic 4, Milos Cuk 2, Filip Filipovic 2, Stefan Mitrovic 2, Zivko Gocic, Dusko Pijetlovic, Slobodan Nikic, Nikola Jaksic, Andrija Prlainovic.