Tony Azevedo, four-time Olympian and captain of the USA Water Polo National team, has been selected to speak on behalf of the athletes at the All Sports Dinner held on Monday, November 16th. Azevedo was inducted into the NYAC Hall of Fame in April of 2015.
"Tony Azevedo, the current captain of the US National Men’s Water Polo Team, was voted the Pac-12 Water Polo Player of the Century. While at Stanford, he led the Cardinal to two NCAA Championships (2001 and 2002). He set a freshman scoring record (68 goals), a single-season scoring record (95 goals as a sophomore) and a career scoring record (332 goals). In each of his four years of college, Azevedo was awarded the Peter J. Cutino Award for the most outstanding male player of the year." - USA Water Polo 10/13/15
The 2015 US Open of Water Polo took place in Pomona, CA from July 17th-19th. The NYAC men’s and women’s teams made history, both placing two teams in the top four. The NYAC men’s A team won the tournament while the B team captured fourth place with a stellar second squad, assuring a bright future for the sport. For six players on the A team, it was less than one week after earning gold medals at the 2015 Pan Am Games for Team USA, securing a spot in the 2016 Olympic Games. Sending two teams to the tournament was a heavy task, but the NYAC men’s water polo coaches had high expectations. This year’s tournament had 12 teams in the field and took place over three rounds.
The A team came out roaring, blowing out one team and beating Stanford Water Polo Club, 16-13. Both NYAC teams advanced to the second round, even though the NYAC B team went 1-1, losing 7-11 to the second seeded Olympic Club, but winning their second game. Whereas the A team won both second round games handily, the B team faced the third seeded Bruins. Because of the depth of talent on the NYAC B team and late goals from Joe Cosentino and Brian Bacharach, the B team secured its biggest victory thus far in the tournament, winning a back and forth battle 11-10.
Due to the tournament format, the NYAC A team played the NYAC B team in the semi–final game, removing the chance for an all NYAC final. While both teams played to win, the NYAC A team beat its brethren and advanced, sending the NYAC B team into the third place game. In the third place match, the B team had a chance for redemption against the Olympic Club. Tied 9-9 after overtime, the NYAC B team fell to Olympic Club in a shoot out.
For the championship title, the NYAC A team faced off against the Golden Bears (CA). US team members, John Mann and Josh Samuels, got into early foul trouble forcing Coach Scott Schulte to alter his original game plan. His team responded and the NYAC A team was in control the whole game with a balanced attack and strong performances from Griffin White, Danny Cercols and Rich Hyden. The NYAC A team won 15-12. Josh Shillings, Merill Mosses, Jesse Smith and Tony Azevedo were awarded All-Tournament honors, with the latter, who was inducted into NYAC’s Hall of Fame this year, receiving the tournament’s MVP award. Next year, the NYAC men will have an opportunity to reach another plateau: win a ninth championship in a 10 year period.
Not to be outdone, the NYAC women’s teams had their sights on making history as well. The NYAC A team started with a strong first round, easily defeating its opponents. Meanwhile, the B team showed grit and the will to win as it won two games in dramatic fashion, the first by one goal and the second against Cal in an exciting shootout. Since both teams finished first in their opening round brackets, the scene was being set for a final game of NYAC A verses NYAC B.
In the round of eight, the strong focus instilled by Coach Chris Vidale pushed both A and B teams into tremendous efforts as they both destroyed their competition, setting up semi-final rounds of NYAC A team versus Stanford and NYAC B versus SoCal Gold.
The NYAC A team played a back-and-fourth game with Stanford. After four quarters, the game was tied. Two periods of overtime did not solve the deadlock and the teams settled this game with the excitement of the shoot-out. Unfortunately, Stanford’s shooters proved a bit sharper after the exhausting six period game and advanced to the final.
Knowing an NYAC final was not to be, the B team wanted to represent the Club in the championship. On the other side was a tough SoCal Gold team that had other plans. In a tight game, SoCal Gold led by one heading into the last quarter. Taking offensive risks in the final quarter, the NYAC B team defensive was left vulnerable and SoCal Gold took advantage, defeating the NYAC 15- 11.
While it wasn’t for a fifth straight championship, it was an all-NYAC consolation game for third place. Both teams bounced back knowing they were playing for bragging rights. The B team started off strong, building a three goal lead; but, the A team wasn’t going to let them off the hook, slowly diminishing the B team’s lead. In the fourth quarter, the A team took the lead for the first time. With less than two minutes left, Tayna Gandy scored the game winner and the NYAC A team triumphed over the B team 14-13. Kelly Eaton, Tanya Gandy and Aria Fisher were awarded All Tournament team honors.
The NYAC women had matched their male counterparts in placing two teams into the top four at the US Open, and history was once again written in the sport of water polo by the NYAC.
- William Irvine & Richard Russey
NYAC Takes Fisher Cup
The top teams from across the USA came together on the sunny shores of La Jolla, CA at UC-San Diego to compete for the prestigious Fisher Cup, the most coveted annual title next to the US Championships. With the best club teams and two USA national training teams, the competition was the best the country has to offer in 2015 as the USA begins to prep its players for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The first rounds had the top ranked NYAC facing off against two top teams: USA-A and Long Beach. Kicking off against USA-A, the NYAC had to be focused out of the gate. Playing nearly flawlessly, the NYAC used its experience and crushed the younger USA-A squad, 20-5. In the afternoon game, the NYAC again cruised to an easy victory, defeating Long Beach, 22-6, to earn the team a spot in the semi-final.
In that round game, the NYAC faced Stanford. This team had beaten the NYAC one year earlier in this very tournament, scoring 13 goals. Coach Schulte would not let history repeat itself; he deployed a game plan to stifle Stanford’s shooters, holding them to a tournament low six goals while the NYAC tallied 11 to take the victory.
The win set up a championship match between the NYAC and the defending champs, Bruin, a team that also defeated the NYAC in 2014’s semi-final game. Unlike the morning’s game, Schulte wanted this game to be about his explosive offense which had been producing all weekend. The NYAC followed Schulte’s orders and jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, defeating Bruin 14-10 to take the championship.
The weekend was complete as, in capturing the prestigious Fisher Cup, the NYAC avenged its losses from 2014’s disappointing fourth place finish. This is the fourth title that the NYAC has claimed in this demanding tournament. You can catch full highlights from the championship match at YouTube.com/USAWP.
- Richard Russey
Tony Azevado Inducted into the NYAC Hall of Fame:
One of the top players in the world and one of the most decorated players from the United States, ever, Tony Azevedo has competed in four Olympics, earning a silver medal in 2008, and will, once again, compete in Brazil 2016 for his fifth Olympics. Azevedo led the US National team to four Pan American Game Gold Medals, seven World Championships and four FINA World Cup tournaments. As a professional water polo player, he led his teams to two Croatian Championships, a Montenegrin Championship, and a Brazilian Championship. In 2006 Azevedo was the Italian League leading scorer with 63 goals. Since 2012, he has been the Captain of the US Men’s National Water Polo Team. He is also the only male collegiate water polo player to be awarded the J. Cutino Award, the best NCAA male water polo player award, for all four years of a collegiate career.
Playing for the NYAC water polo team, Azevedo led the team to 7 National Championships as well as many other tournament championships, and was often named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Over the past couple decades, NYAC has dominated the field in water polo and Azevedo has been an integral part of the team's success.
This past weekend, the NYAC mens water polo went 3-0 in USWP National League play, bringing the team's record to 5-1 over the last 6 games. The success of the team can be partial attributed to the outstanding goaltending of Merrill Moses, who has the highest save percentage (.613) of the goalies in the league. Although in the early part of the season the team roster was thin due to injuries, the now healthy NYAC team is ranked 3rd heading into championship weekend, 4/11/15-4/12/15. If you want to follow the team during the championships, all matches will be streamed on USA Water Polo TV at YouTube.com/USAWP. Or just click here.
Click the links below to read articles about the Water Polo team's competitions.
US Women - World Champions
Men's and Women's US Championships
Arizona Desert Duel