The United States men’s water polo team wrapped up the 2016 FINA World League Super Final with its best showing in eight years, coming away with a silver medal after falling to Serbia, the reigning world champion, 10-6 in the championship game Sunday in Huizhou, China.
Trailing 5-1 at halftime and 8-1 at the end of the third period, the Americans came storming back with five fourth-quarter goals to put the heat on the Serbians, but there wasn’t enough time to complete the comeback.
Six players found the net for the U.S., which converted three of its 12 power play opportunities. Serbia used the power play to its advantage, scoring five goals in seven tries.
The U.S. side had to scrap and claw for its results in China, battling through a pair of shootouts to get to the gold-medal match, first against Australia (16-15) for a spot in the semifinals, then against Greece (17-16). They opened the tournament with a 12-6 win over host China, then downed Brazil 10-7 before falling to Serbia 10-8 to close out the preliminary round.
The showing in China puts the United States in the hunt for its seventh Olympic medal in men’s water polo. They have won three bronzes (Paris 1924, Los Angeles 1932 and Munich 1972) and three silvers (Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and Beijing 2008).
The Americans will return to southern California to continue preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The final team that will travel to Brazil will be announced July 7 on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego.