Pepperdine coach leads water polo squad to silver medal

The USA Olympic water polo team defeated Serbia to earn a spot in the gold medal game and secure the nation's first medal in 20 years. Photo courtesy of USA Water Polo

Pepperdine University water polo coach Terry Schroeder wanted to take the U.S. Olympic team back to the podium. He accomplished just that on Sunday evening with a silver medal for his team. However, as when he played in the 1984 and 1988 games, the gold medal eluded the U.S. and Hungary took home its third straight Olympic gold with a 14-10 victory over the USA.

“We never got into any rhythm defensively, we went 5/5 to start on extra man but the flow of the game was not in our favor, you can’t be in a shootout with these guys,” Schroeder said

Hungary took an initial lead of 1-0 just seven seconds into the game. But U.S. player Peter Varellas answered back about a minute later with a goal of his own to make the score 1-1. The scoring continued back and forth with Hungary ending the quarter with a 6-4 lead. The United States continued to fight back in the second quarter and tied the score at 8-8. But Hungary scored in the final second of the half to make the score 9-8.

The United States team opened the third quarter with a goal by Layne Beaubian to tie the score again at 9-9. But Hungary scored the final two goals to make it 11-9 and then knocked in three straight goals over the course of six minutes to take a 14-9 lead. The United States finally scored after 13 minutes, making the final score 14-10.

“To see this team grow has been a wonderful experience not just as water polo players but as people,” Schroeder said. “I wanted that gold for them as much as anyone. But I think when you put it in perspective, it’s a great accomplishment. To see them step up there on that podium I know there were some tears in my eyes, kind of like a proud father watching his children.”