Germany puts U.S. away early at worlds


MELBOURNE, Australia -- Germany beat the United States 6-3
Monday in a fight-marred men's water polo game, ending the
Americans' chances of winning a medal at the world championships.

Germany outscored the Americans 4-2 in the opening quarter then
relied on the goalkeeping of Alexander Tchigir to advance to the
quarterfinals against 2004 Olympic champions Hungary.

Andreas Schlotterbeck was involved in a fight with U.S. player
Jesse Smith during the third quarter.

"Water polo is a tough sport,'' Schlotterbeck said. "He hit me
in the head but the referee saw it differently. He basically hit me
right in the face. ... I had to get out of the water because I hurt
my eye in the fight."

German coach Hagen Stamm said the physical game proved his
team's character. Shortly afterward, Schlotterbeck scored the only
goal of the third quarter for a 6-2 lead.

"The Americans tried to provoke us in the end by playing
physical," Stamm said. "Schlotterbeck gave the right answer. He
let himself get hit and then scored the goal."

The game was a playoff involving second- and third-place teams
from the round-robin, in which the U.S. finished second in Group B
with a 2-1 record. The Americans are now headed to the relegation

Tchigir blocked 16 of 19 shots, including a 5-meter penalty
attempt by leading American goal scorer Tony Azevedo.

"Our counterattack was horrible, we just couldn't put it away
and their goalie was amazing," U.S. player Jeffrey Powers said.
"I guess we had pretty good defense since they only scored six
goals, but we just couldn't get it in the cage."

Azevedo had nine shots on goal but failed to score.

"From the beginning we worked our tactics," Schlotterbeck
said. "We tried to block Tony Azevedo so he could never have a
chance to score. We were really, really motivated."