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U.S. men defeat Montenegro, 8-7, in water polo opener

July 29, 2012|By Helene Elliott
  • American Ryan Bailey reacts after scoring a goal against Montenegro in a men's water polo preliminary game.
American Ryan Bailey reacts after scoring a goal against Montenegro in… (Julio Cortez / Associated…)

LONDON -- The U.S. men’s water polo team opened the Olympic tournament Sunday with an 8-7 preliminary-round victory over Montenegro.

The U.S. men’s team won the silver medal at the Beijing Games but has not won a medal at a major tournament since then. Montenegro was the runner-up at this year’s European championships.

Montenegro scored first, with 3:52 left in the first quarter, but the U.S. answered before the quarter ended on a goal by Ryan Bailey. The U.S. took a 2-1 lead on Tim Hutten’s goal but that was matched by Montenegro’s Nikola Janovic. Layne Beaubien’s man-advantage goal gave the U.S. a 3-2 lead. A left-handed shot by Peter Varellas padded the U.S. lead to 4-2 with 1:04 left in the half.

A lob by Adam Wright gave the U.S. a 5-3 lead with 5:25 left in the third quarter, and Varellas’ second goal extended that to 6-3 with 3:29 left in the third.

Montenegro cut their deficit to 6-4 on a long-range shot inside the left post and came within one with 5:45 left in the fourth on a man-advantage goal, but Varellas scored again with 3:55 left to give the U.S. a two-goal cushion.

Montenegro made it close again on a slick passing play and a goal by Aleksander Ivovic with 2:09 left in the fourth quarter, but U.S. captain Tony Azevedo scored a goal shortly after a timeout to reestablish a two-goal edge. That proved crucial when Montenegro scored again with 46 seconds to play.

The U.S. men next will face Romania on Tuesday.

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