Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - August 10 - The U.S. Olympic Men's Water Polo Team turned to their defense to earn their first win at the 2016 Olympic Games as they stopped France today 6-3. Josh Samuels (Villa Park, CA/UCLA/NYAC) scored three goals to lead the offense but it was the defense anchored by McQuin Baron's (North Tustin, CA/USC/Regency) 11 saves that set the tone. Team USA held France scoreless for the entire second and third quarter on the way to the win. The United States returns to play on Friday when they meet Montenegro in the second to last group play match at 11:40am/10:40am et/7:40am pt. The match will stream live on NBCOlympics.com and air on NBC at 10:40am et/10:40am pt. For more information on USA Water Polo at the Olympic Games, click here.
The match started quietly on both sides until France broke through with the first goal of the match at the 2:03 mark on a tally from Mathieu Peisson. John Mann (Newport Beach, CA/California/NYAC) brought the match level with 1:19 to play on a power play goal in close. Tied 1-1 after the first quarter, Team USA broke things open in the second. Jesse Smith (Coronado, CA/Pepperdine/NYAC) hit on a power play with 6:31 to play to give the United States their first lead of the match at 2-1.
Samuels followed with a counter attack goal to make it 3-1 and then found Luca Cupido (Newport Beach, CA/California/Newport WPC) for a redirect and a 4-1 lead. With just 12 seconds to play in the half, Samuels closed the scoring with a penalty putting Team USA up 5-1 at the break.
Neither side would find the net in the third quarter as the United States maintained their four goal advantage. The scoreless drought continued until 3:30 remaining in the game when Samuels added his third for a 6-1 lead. France looked to stage a comeback but only mustered two more goals as Team USA earned the 6-3 victory.
The United States went 3/8 on power plays and 1/1 on penalty shots while France was 0/7 on power plays and did not attempt a penalty shot.
Team USA is now 1-2-0 in Group B action with two more games to play in pool play against Montenegro and Italy. Only the top four teams in each six team group will advance to the quarterfinals.
Tony Azevedo - "In 2012 we were were 3-0 and and all of the sudden we fell apart. It was a good two wake up calls for us, today we came out with a win but a solid win. Offensively we weren't there but we did our strength which is defnese, counter attack, we stayed united and played as a team. That's what I wanted and what the team wanted and that's gonna get us going to the next game"
Josh Samuels - "I think the energy (on defense was the difference), that was our focus, that was part of our gameplan, the last two games our energy was not all the way up. Today we focused on field blocking, counter attack and it put some pressure on them."
Scoring - Scoresheet
USA 6 (1, 4, 0, 1) J. Samuels 3, J. Smith 1, J. Mann 1, L. Cupido 1
FRA 3 (1, 0, 0, 2) A. Camarasa 1, M. Peisson 1, U. Crousillat 1
Saves - USA - M. Baron 11 - FRA - R. Garsau 11
6x5 - USA - 3/8 FRA - 0/7
Penalties - USA - 1/1 - FRA - 0/0