Stanford grad and four-time Olympian Tony Azevedo scored three times to help the USA men's senior national water polo team edge host Russia, 7-6, in front of a packed house on the opening day of competition at the FINA World Championships in Kazan on Monday.
Luca Cupido also scored three times for the Americans, who play Greece on Wednesday (Tuesday night Pacific time) in group play. Goalie Merrill Moses recorded 14 saves.
Tony Azevedo. Photo by Kelley L Cox/KLC fotos
Team USA responded when Azevedo netted a power- play goal and a counter-attack goal to give the U.S. a 2-1 lead. John Mann also scored for a 3-1 advantage after the first period.
In the second, Bugyachuk delivered two more goals to even the match at 3 with 29 seconds remaining to play in the first half.
Cupido had the last word in the period delivering with just three seconds to play to give the Americans a 4-3 lead at halftime.
Midway through the third, Azevedo delivered on a penalty shot but Russia quickly responded, scoring two straight goals to tie the match at 5-5.
Cupido came through late in the period, finding the back of the net with just seven seconds to play for a 6-5 lead heading into the fourth.
Cupido struck again midway through the final period for a 7-5 lead. Russia would try one last rally, drawing to within one on a goal from Konstantin Stepaniuk to make it 7-6.
Despite a few opportunities down the stretch, Russia got no closer and Team USA forced a turnover late in the match to seal the contest.
Team USA went 3-for-7 on power plays and 1- for-1 on penalty shots while Russia was 0-for-2 on power plays and did not attempt a penalty shot.