BEIJING — The United States’ men’s water polo team defeated host
a preliminary round at the Tingdong Natatorium Sunday.
captain and three-time Olympian Tony Azevedo scored five goals, and Merrill Moses
— 30-year-old son of Max and Marlene Moses of Tracy — stopped 11 shots.
team’s goalkeeper, has been on the USA National Water Polo team since 1997. He lives in
His parents moved to
last spring, and they’re at the Olympics watching their son play all this month.
scored three goals in the first half, added two more after the break and
finished the opening round with more goals than anyone else in the 12-team
is just a spectacular player," Moses said. "Be prepared for him to
score a lot of goals against every team."
the Americans beat a team many believe won't win a game in the preliminary
round, it was a step in the right direction.
Terry Schroeder as team captain, won silver medals in 1984 and 1988 and had a
fourth-place showing in 1992. But they haven't been the same since.
hopes to change that in
and some strong showings this summer against some of the top teams in the world
indicate he might have a chance.
It would be
a quick turnaround for a country that finished sixth in 2000, seventh in 2004
and three coaching changes since. Then again, the Americans have seven
returning Olympians eager to win a medal — with Azevedo leading the way.
certainly did against
26-year-old Azevedo scored in a variety of ways. He beat goalkeeper Weiging Ge
a little more than two minutes into the match, then made it 2-0 with a
power-play goal about 3 minutes later.
ahead for good just before halftime. He pumped twice, then unleashed a tricky
shot around a defender's arm and by the keeper with 38 seconds remaining.
the second-half scoring with a lob shot that fooled Ge and scored on a penalty
shot in the fourth quarter.
started strong and finished strong, and that's what matters," Azevedo
Beaubien had two goals for the Americans, and Jesse Smith added the final one
with 28 seconds to play.
up big, too. He swatted away 11 of 15 shots, including several from close
bottom line is you're playing
he said. "In any sport, that's going to be hard. Hopefully, this is the
start of a lot more to come."
been four years, and we've had four coaches and money issues," Azevedo
said. "But this is the closest team I've ever been a part of and it showed
at times out there."
Americans haven't competed for a medal since 1992 in
looked like it would get back on track in 2001, when Ratko Rudic took over as
head coach. Rudic is one of the sport's most successful coaches at the Olympic
gold in 1984 and 1988 and then doing the same with
to his native
brief stint with
women's coach Guy Baker at the helm, Azevedo's father, Rick, took over in 2005
and hired Schroeder as part of his staff. When the governing body fired Azevedo
last year after more poor performances and little progress, Schroeder was an
obvious choice for job.
did he have a strong relationship with the players and a burning desire to
straighten out the program, he was a member of the Water Polo Hall of Fame and
the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He also carried the American flag at
the closing ceremonies in 1988 and was chosen as the model for the bronze
Olympic torso that stands in front of the Los Angeles Coliseum.
wants to get the Americans back on the medal stand.
get that first win and to get two points, it's a good feeling to get one under
our belt," Schroeder said. "Now, we've got to see what we can do. If
we finish sixth or seventh or eighth, that's not really turning it around.
We've talked about it, and talk is good, but now's where it counts."
The Tracy Press contributed to this report.