Stanford junior Bret Bonanni scored five times and the United States men's senior national water polo team were within striking distance of 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Serbia in the fourth quarter before falling to the Serbians, 11-9, Thursday on the final day of pool play at the FINA World Cup in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Bonanni scored with 11 seconds left to play in the second quarter to give the Americans a 4-3 halftime advantage. Serbia held a 3-1 edge in the second before the U.S. rallied.
Serbia led, 7-5, early in the fourth quarter before Bonanni scored twice to even the score. It was still tied with 2:24 remaining.
Serbian Gavril Subotic then scored three straight goals and the U.S. could not recover. The Americans finished second in their group.
The United States will meet Australia in Friday's quarterfinals. The Aussies and Hungary played to an 8-8 draw, with Australia assigned third place in its group.
Australia beat the Americans, 8-4, in their only other meeting this year; in the preliminary round of the FINA World League Super Final. The U.S. went 0 for 10 in power-play situations that game.
Serbia improved to 6-0 against the Americans this season, although this may have been the best match of the year. The Serbians outscored the U.S. by an average of five goals per game entering play Thursday.
Serbia routed the U.S., 20-11, in their first meeting and the Americans showed steady improvement the rest of the season.