USA builds lead, falls to reigning champs Croatia in water polo opener

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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Team USA put a major scare into reigning gold medalists Croatia before ultimately falling 7-5 in both teams’ Olympic water polo openers on Saturday at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center in Rio de Janeiro.

MORE: Full match replay

USA led 4-3 with five minutes to play in the third, with Tony Azevedo leading the offense with a pair of goals and 38-year-old goalkeeper Merrill Moses starring between the posts.

But Croatia was too good, scoring four-straight to take a commanding lead in the fourth quarter. The Yanks answered back for one, but got no closer.

Next up for the U.S. is Spain on Monday. USA needs to finish in the Top Four of Group B, and a win or draw against Croatia would’ve been a pleasant surprise.