Days one and two of the water polo competition inThe 16th FINA World Championships ended with victories for both the men and women of Team USA. Kazan, located 800 kilometers East of Moscow in Tatarstan, is playing host to the biggest aquatics competition of the year, including swimming, diving, synchronized swimming and water polo.
The first match of the Sunday session saw a one-sided course as favorites USA dominated Brazil who were left without a goal in the first half in a 2-13 loss. The Adam Krikorian-coached side took the foot off the gas pedal in the second half but their win was never in danger. Last year’s FINA World Player of the Year Maggie Steffens finished with a game-high 3 goals for the winners.
An arena packed with local fans greeted the US men for their important opening match against Russia. An anticipated contest, it took some minutes for the teams to shake off the nerves and finding rhythm. But after that a great battle unfolded. Russia managed to impose their slow style of play to the usual dynamic Americans who saw just captain Tony Azevedo having an active opening quarter scoring USA’s first two goals. But the game went and stayed slow after that.
The difference however looked to be made in the shooting. Russia got them enough but recorded a 6-for-20 shooting performance (20%) with usual top scorer Konstantin Stepanyuk going 1-for-7. That way USA goalie Merill Moses, saving 14 of the 20 shots fired at him, could gain confidence while on the other end Luca Cupido came up big in the second half. His three goals included what turned out to be the winner as he scored on man-up with 3.51 to go in the game for the 7-5 lead.
Stepanyuk replied not long after finally scoring, from the left wing, but in the final phase the US defence held on. And Russia’s turnover in their final full possession did not helped either. USA could play out the clock leaving just 6 seconds for a final Russian attempt. That proved not enough as USA gained an important victory in the tough group B.
Source: Water Polo World, a Total Waterpolo partner