July 11, 1999
Palma de Mallorca, Spain - The U.S. water polo team just couldn't keep up with Italy in the semifinal round Sunday night, losing 7-3. While the loss keeps them out of gold-medal contention, a World University Games medal is still possible. The team will face Hungary Monday night to fight for third and fourth place. Italy challenges Spain for the gold medal.
"A bronze medal would be nice," said U.S. game high scorer Brian Heifferon, "but it's still third place."
Heifferon scored two of the three goals for the U.S. against Italy, but it wasn't enough to stop their seven-point scoring binge. Italy came out quickly in the first quarter, grabbing two goals at 4:58 and 3:12, the second during a man-down opportunity. The U.S. was shut-out until the second quarter at 4:32, thanks to Chris Segesman. Italy stretched their lead to two with another first-half goal at 1:52, again converting a five-man U.S. defense into a scoring bonanza.
Team USA and goalie Merrill Moses held off any more Italian goals until late in the third quarter, despite Italy's constant shots on goal - five of Moses' eight saves occurred in the third. At 3:09, Italy moved up to four points. Heifferon responded with U.S. goal number two at 2:35. The quarter ended with another goal by Italy at 2:12, making the score Team USA 2, Italy 5.
Heifferon managed to slam one more ball past Italy at 5:31 in the fourth, but that was the last time the U.S. would score. Italy marched up to seven points at 2:28 and 1:14.
In quarterfinal action, Team USA defeated Team Russia 6-4 at the Son Hugo aquatic complex.
"It was a big win," admitted Adam Wright (UCLA/Seal Beach, Calif.), "but we knew we could beat them." The two teams were paired after the U.S. placed fourth in bracket F Friday, and Russia placed first in bracket E.
Wright scored one of Team USA's points, and the rest of the six were peppered throughout the roster. Jeff Powers, Chris Segesman, Layne Beaubien, Brian Heifferon and Sean Kern (UCLA/Honolulu) each buried one in the net.
"I definitely don't think we played as well as we could," Wright added. "We played pretty stupid offense, but our defense was good."