Luca Cupido competes during a pool play match between the U.S. and Australia at the 2019 FINA World Championships on July 19, 2019 in Gwangju, South Korea.
The U.S. men’s water polo team is moving on to the crossover round at the FINA World Championships after taking second place in its group.
Team USA finished group play with a 2-1 record after beating Australia 12-11 Friday in Gwangju, South Korea. The team will face Greece on Sunday with the chance to advance to the quarterfinals. The tournament continues through July 27.
Friday’s win came on the heels of Team USA’s one loss in pool play. Throughout the finale, Australia made sure that the U.S. never got too far ahead, closing within a point or tying the score throughout the second half. Finally, with 1:17 left to play, Olympian Luca Cupido hit the game winner and the U.S. defense kept Australia from matching as the clock ticked down. Cupido led the team with three goals and goalkeeper Alex Wolf made six saves.
The U.S. started the tournament Sunday with a 16-7 win over Kazakhstan, led by Olympians Alex Bowen and Ben Hallock, as well as Johnny Hooper and Hannes Daube, who each scored three goals in the victory. By halftime the U.S. held an 8-3 lead and it built that to 11-5 entering the fourth quarter. The Americans were 8-for-11 on power plays, killed all three penalties and Wolf made nine saves.
The U.S. hit a bump Tuesday against Croatia, the defending world champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist, in its second outing. Chancellor Ramirez scored a pair of goals to lead the offense but the U.S. fell 17-7 after dropping behind early and struggling to recover.
There are a total of four Olympians on the U.S. roster. Bowen, Hallock and Cupido are joined by captain and four-time Olympian Jesse Smith. The U.S. men have never medaled at the world championships. They finished 13th in 2017, and their best finish was fourth, most recently in 2009.