The U.S. men's water polo team finished in second place at the FINA Men's Intercontinental Tournament, falling 8-6 to Australia in the final to take silver.
In a hard-fought game that saw Team USA go up 2-0 in the first quarter, the undefeated Aussies weren't to be denied. Australia came back to score four goals in a row and wouldn't relinquish the lead, though the U.S. came as close as 7-6 with several minutes remaining in the game. Japan rounded out the podium, taking bronze with a 12-7 win over Kazakhstan.
“It was an open game and we started well but we made several big mistakes and it cost us the win," head coach Dejan Udovicic told FINA after the match. "[The tournament] gave the opportunity for the younger players to show if we can count on them in the future. The youngsters proved they are going in the right direction. I am satisfied they have the energy, motivation and approach.”
The roster for this tournament featured only two members of the team that competed at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Alex Obert and Alex Roelse.
The U.S. men cruised through group play, advancing to the final with a 4-1 record. They kicked things off with a 10-8 win over Japan and a 15-10 win over Kazakhstan, followed by an 18-6 drubbing of China. It was Australia that ended their unbeaten streak, coming back from a 2-5 deficit to win 12-8. But Team USA came back to roll easily into the final, defeating New Zealand 20-6.
Alex Wolf was named best goalkeeper of the tournament, while Jonathan Hooper was the highest goal-scorer with 20 points to his name.
By placing in the top four, the U.S. also qualified a berth in the FINA World League Men’s Water Polo Super Final, held in June in Ruza, Russia. The U.S. men finished second at the 2016 edition of the event for their first podium in eight years.