With 16-7 Win over Kazakhstan, U.S. Men’s Water Polo Gets off to a Fast Start at FINA Worlds

Hannes Daube recorded a hat trick in his first-ever World Championships match. Photo Courtesy: USA Water Polo

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Swimming World continues its coverage of the 2019 men’s and women’s water polo world championships. Stick with us for comprehensive coverage of this year’s most prestigious polo tournament.

fina-gwangju-jul19In what must have been an anxious start for some—including Matt Farmer, playing his first game representing his country since the 2015 World University Games—the U.S. men’s water polo team got off to a rousing start at the 18th FINA World Championships. Breaking out to an early 4-1 lead on the strength of power play scores from Ben Hallock (3 goals), Luca Cupido, Johnny Hooper (3 goals) and Hannes Daube (3 goals), the Americans were never headed as they opened the tournament with a 16-7 win over Kazakhstan in Group B play.

In goal, Alex Wolf, in his first-ever action at the World Championships, recorded nine saves and looked particularly strong late as the U.S. piled on with five goals in the fourth period to take what was absolutely a must-win match.

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Alex Bowen also chipped in a hat trick while Max Irving, Marko Vavic and Farmer each had a lone goal. Farmer’s third-period tally was his first-ever as a member of the men’s senior national team.

Kazakhstan, which has yet to enjoy success against the U.S. at FINA Worlds, received single scores from seven different players, including captain Murat Shakenov.

Up next for the Americans—who with one win in group play are now half-way towards what would be a fantastic opening week in Gwangju, South Korea—is Croatia, 14-4 opening day winners over Australia. The Croatians, defending world champions, and looked very strong in pulling out to an early 6-1 lead over the Aussies. The Americans however should have confidence against their vaunted rivals, having beaten the champs 11-10 last year in the FINA World League Super Final behind a blistering performance by Bowen, who scored five goals.

December 1, 2018; , Palo Alto, CA, USA; Collegiate Men's Water Polo:NCAA Semi Finals: USC vs UCLA; UCLA Bruins Goalkeeper Alex Wolf Photo credit: Catharyn Hayne

Alex Wolf, shown in NCAA action last December against USC, was strong in goal for the Americans. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

The Croatia-U.S. match will stream live on Wednesday at 9:50am local time (8:50pm EST/5:50pm PT July 16) on the Olympic Channel; please click here for more information.

The only drawback for the Americans in their match Monday was the excessive total of kick-outs, as captain Jesse Smith, Chancellor Ramirez and Daube each received three exclusions. Smith and Ramirez only got in the water for a total of eleven minutes of match time and neither player contributed on the scoring sheet.

The Kazakhstanis also experienced foul trouble, and the U.S. made them pay, going 8/11 on power plays and 3/3 on penalties. Kazakhstan was 5/12 on power plays, with Shakenov missing his team’s lone penalty shot.

Kazakhstan will look to rebound against the Australians, also on Wednesday.