Oct. 27, 2011
GUADALAJARA, Mexico - Former UCLA standout players Adam Wright and Chay Lapin have helped lead the USA Water Polo Men's National Team to the gold medal match at the Pan American Games after cruising past Cuba, 12-2, on Thursday at Scotiabank Aquatics Center.
Thursday's victory over Cuba put the United States one win away from punching their ticket to the 2012 Olympics in London next summer. Team USA will face either Brazil or Canada on Saturday at 3 p.m. (PT)/5 p.m. (CT).
Wright and Lapin played in the semifinal triumph against Cuba on Thursday. The United States secured a 6-0 lead by halftime and held on for the 12-2 victory.
Wright is midway through his third season as the UCLA men's water polo head coach. Ranked No. 1 in the latest collegiate poll, UCLA does not return to action until Friday, Nov. 4, when the Bruins host Pacific.
Earlier in the week, the United States advanced to the semifinal round with victories over Venezuela (16-3), Brazil (8-5) and Argentina (13-7).
Emilio Vieira, a two-year letterwinner at UCLA (2009-10), is competing for the Brazilian National Team at the Pan American Games. Brazil faces Canada in a semifinal match on Thursday afternoon.
The Pan American Games serve as Team USA's third chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. Aside from the winner of the Pan American Games, the country that wins the World League Super Final and the top three countries at the FINA World Championships all qualify for the Olympics. The winner of the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament also earns an Olympic berth.
Serving as backup goalkeeper to veteran Merrill Moses, Lapin was a four-year starter for the Bruins from 2006-09. The native of Long Beach, Calif., established UCLA's all-time saves record during his senior season, finishing with 719 stops. Lapin was a four-time All-MPSF honoree, securing ACWPC All-America accolades all four seasons (twice as an honorable mention selection).
Among the most veteran players on the current USA roster, Wright has played for the United States in virtually every major tournament since 2001. Wright led Team USA to the gold medal at the 2007 Pan American Games and to the silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He starred at UCLA from 1997-2000, helping the Bruins capture consecutive NCAA titles in 1999 and 2000.