The USA Men’s National Water Polo team fell to Hungary, 13-9, on Thursday at the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia. The loss places Team USA in the 7th place match versus Australia on Saturday.
Both the USA and Hungary experienced tough losses in the quarterfinals, especially with Hungary heart-broken after falling to Italy. It was Balazs Harai who quickly got the Hungarians up in front, but Tony Azevedo on his second try of a free throw succeeded for the 1-1 score. Hungary then went up 3-1 after Daniel Varga scored cross cage from the right side and Balazs Erdelyi, the former University of Pacific star, tipped in the ball after a nice drive, just enough over the goal-line before USA goalkeeper McQuin Baron grabbed it back.
Goals were exchanged again as Bret Bonanni hit but Harai scored his 2nd of the game on a nice backhand with under a minute remaining in the first quarter for the 4-2 lead for the dethroned champion.
In the second quarter a deadlock marked the first minutes and was finally broken by Hungary’s Balazs Harai scoring a nice turnaround centre-forward goal. But after Josh Samuels struck back for USA, it was Denes Varga who joined the group of scorers with a nice shot from outside around his defender. The Magyars continued to seek control but got surprised by Bret Bonanni who caught goalkeeper Attila Decker by surprise in the near corner to get USA back trailing 2 goals: 6-4. But before the first half was concluded, Hungary struck back. After nice passing Daniel Varga catched and shot from outside to have the Magyars going into the major break leading 7-4.
In the second quarter each team committed a turnover before Luca Cupido scored for Team USA reducing the deficit back to two: 7-5. And when Bret Bonanni hit nicely from the left wing on man-up in the following attack for the Americans, the score was now back to the closest margin. Several minutes went by again with teams having hard time to finish set plays. USA did earned exclusions but could not convert twice. The score got back to two for Hungary by the goal of the game as Denes Varga suddenly shot, guarded by Alex Bowen, from 7 metres out, to skip it into the roof of the goal. And Hungary pushed forward as standout Harai scored another one on a nce feed from Marton Vamos from the right side. Now USA had again to fight back from a 3-goal deficit as Hungary had established a 9-6 lead going into the final period.
The match for 5th place seemed even further away for the Americans quickly into the 4th quarter as Norbert Hosnyanszky surprised USA goalie Baron in the near corner to extend the lead to 10-6. Tony Azevedo stepped up for USA shooting past Attila Decker on a quick catch-and-shoot goal to reduce the deficit with 5 minutes remaining. But Denes Varga was there to make things worse for USA scoring his 17th goal of the tournament nicely as only he’s capable of. From the left wing on extra man Varga quasi-nonchalant scored cross cage for the 11-7 score as over 4 minutes remained. The exclamation point came from Hosnyanszky who fired off from the right wing as time expired to surprise Baron over the head. Hungary led 12-7 and with the game just 2.50 away from its end, the outcome looked decided.
Azevedo added his 3rd goal by scoring on man-up after a timeout but by the walk he made back to the bench, also knew the game was played. The scoring wasn’t over over however. In the very next attack veteran lefthander Norbert Madaras got on the board for just his 2nd goal of the tournament after catching and shooting from outside before John Mann hit on a nice drive at centre forward to raise the score to 13-9 with over a minute left. Both teams played out the clock in the final minute and with the score unchanged Hungary will play for 5th place facing Montenegro on Saturday while USA meets Australia for 7th.
Source: Waterpolo World, a Total Waterpolo partner.