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U.S. Men’s Water Polo Team Tops Olympic Champ Serbia In Exhibition Series Opener

By Paul D. Bowker | Dec. 19, 2019, 12:23 a.m. (ET)

Jesse Smith takes a shot during the men's quarterfinal between the U.S. and Serbia at the 16th FINA World Championships on Aug. 4, 2015 in Kazan, Russia.


The U.S. men’s national water polo team took down the defending Olympic and World League champion Wednesday night.

As the seconds ticked down on a 13-12 victory over Serbia, the sellout crowd assembled at Cathedral Catholic High School in San Diego rose in a noisy tribute to Team USA.

Ben Hallock, a 2016 Olympian, scored four goals and Alex Bowen, his Olympic teammate, scored three times in the opener of a three-game friendly series being played this week in Southern California.

The U.S. carried a 10-8 lead into the final quarter of Wednesday’s match and withstood an offensive attack by Serbia in the fourth period that netted four goals. Bowen’s third goal gave the U.S. a two-goal lead after Serbia had closed to within 12-11.

Alex Wolf had six saves in goal for the U.S.

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Three-time Olympic medalist Filip Filipovic, two-time Olympic medalist Milan Aleksic and Strahinja Rasovic each scored three goals for Serbia.

The victory was the ninth in a row for the U.S. in its first match since winning the gold medal at the Pan American Games Lima 2019, which also qualified it for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The U.S. has an 18-4 record this year with two games to go.

The U.S. finished 10th behind Serbia at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and was ninth in the world championships this year. The teams will play again Friday night in Torrance and Sunday afternoon in Goleta, just outside of Santa Barbara.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic and Paralympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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