Jul 31, 2012; London, United Kingdom; USA goal keeper Merrill Moses (1) reaches out to block a shot from Romania during the London 2012 Olympic Games at Water Polo Arena. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
This was a brutal and physical game on both sides but the United States was able to pull out the victory over 10-8, but once again the defense for Team USA helped them get the victory. Peter Varellas had another three goal game and now has six goals and leads all scorers for the United States, and Ryan Bailey also had three goals. Tony Azevedo for the second straight game scored one goal, and he only took two shots.
In the first half power play for the United States fell flat and they were struggling to make goals and that led to a 5-3 deficit mid-way through the second quarter.
Team USA responded to make it 5-4 when Adam Wright scored from point-blank range as the United States had a two-man advantage. From that point on the United States dominated the game, and Bailey talked about the slow start:
"We had a slow start," said Bailey, who at 36 is playing in his fourth Olympic Games. "We were trying to shut them down from the beginning. It's just a matter of kind of waking up, of looking around at each other and saying, 'Hey, now it's time to start playing."
Also, what helped the United States is that Romania is not that deep and Georgescu Ramiro who is Romania's top center defender had three ejections before the half and had to sit out the rest of the game. That was a huge blow for Romania who does not have the same depth as the United States.
In the third quarter the defense ratcheted up and the offense came alive as Team USA outscored Romania 3-0 in the quarter to take a 7-5 lead heading into the final frame, and all three goals came from the power play.
The fourth quarter still saw the United States control the game and from watching it felt that Romania was not giving up but they just were not able to be as lively as they were prior in the game. That was particularly noticeable after the Adam Wright scored a power play goal to make it 8-6 with 4:17 left in the game. Then Varellas really put the game away with an outside shot to make it 9-6.
Romania did get another pair of goals but it was too late for them to comeback. This game featured a lot of scuffling and quasi-fighting in this game. The two-meter area was so physical with players getting head butted, grabbed, taken under water and probably punches the camera did not see. That is the type of game that should be expected against some of the Eastern European teams.
At the very end of the game, Azevedo did get a red card for talking back to an official after being called for taking an illegal shot where he moved forward to shoot instead of shooting the ball from the point of the foul. Azevedo talked back to the ref after an ejection in the first quarter, so doing it a second time right fully so earned him a red card. There is question whether he would sit out the game against Great Britain, but in the NBC post game it was said that he would be able to play on Thursday.
Someone who receives the red card may not have any visual, verbal, or electronic communication with any member of the team for the remainder of that game and all (including the pre-game warm-ups) of the next game.
So, we will see what happens against Great Britain.
Azevedo also talked once more about how playing together as a team this year helped them get the win:
"It's the games like this when you start slow that you learn the most," he said. "Romania came out great, came out hitting and punching, and the referees let it go and our team responded well toward the second half.
"That's why we trained for seven months together, to be in better shape than everyone else, and we wore them out toward the end and we closed the deal."
Of course we can not forget to mention the awesome goal tending skills of the exuberant Merrill Moses who had 12 saves in the win.
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