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ATHENS 2004

Wigo Leads in U.S. Win

Despite distractions, water polo captain gets four goals in 9-6 victory over Kazakhstan.

August 18, 2004|Steve Springer | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — Wolf Wigo, captain of the U.S. water polo team, is trying to navigate the waters of the indoor pool at the Olympic Aquatic Center with a punctured right eardrum, suffered in practice last week.

He is also keeping an eye on his New York home, where his wife, Barbara, is awaiting the birth of the couple's first child, a daughter, in less than two weeks.

The Kazakhstan team can only shudder at the thought of what Wigo would do if he had no distractions.

The U.S. defeated Kazakhstan here Tuesday, 9-6, led by Wigo's four goals, remaining unbeaten after two games. Kazakhstan has lost twice.

"There is no good time to have a baby when you are in training," Wigo, 31 and in his third Olympics, said. "And I've been training almost my whole life, especially the last four years, to win a gold medal."

In 1996, the U.S. team finished seventh, then improved to sixth four years ago at Sydney.

The teams were tied after the first quarter, 1-1, but turned the match into a shootout in the second seven-minute period, when seven goals were scored. The U.S. got four of those to move into the lead, then used its superior depth to take control of the match in the second half.

Tony Azevedo added a pair of goals to Wigo's total. Jeff Powers, Layne Beaubien and Dan Klatt also scored for the U.S.

Kazakhstan was led by Sergey Drozdov's three goals, but the highlight-reel goal of the match was scored by teammate Ivan Zaitsev. In control of the ball to the right of the goal, he did a 180-degree spin and then backhanded the ball past goalkeeper Brandon Brooks.

"It was totally my fault," said Brooks. "I have to stop those."

Brooks stopped seven of 13 shots. Kazakhstan goalkeeper Alexandr Shvedov stopped nine of 18.

Afterward, U.S. Coach Ratko Rudic blasted Kazakhstan's style of play.

"I am not happy," he said. "It was so violent. It was not water polo. Who will protect us?"

Fortunately for Rudic, Kazakhstan could find no effective protection from Wigo.

*

In other matches, Greece upset 1996 Olympic champion Spain, 8-5, as thousands of Greek fans chanted, "Hellas! Hellas! Hellas!" the country's Greek name.

Francesco Postiglione scored three goals for second-ranked Italy in an 8-4 win over Australia, Germany thrashed Egypt, 13-3; Serbia and Montenegro beat Russia, 4-3, and Hungary outlasted Croatia, 10-8.

*

Associated Press was used in compiling this report.

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