Stanford's Alex Bowen scored three goals and the USA Men's National Team held off a furious rally from Canada to pick up an 8-7 water polo victory and claim second place in Group B action at the FINA World Championships on Friday in Barcelona, Spain.
Canada had the ball and a player advantage with just seconds remaining in the fourth period before an errant pass sailed away as time expired.
Team USA, which went ahead 7-4 when Stanford grad Janson Wigo scored with 5:24 left in the match, was able to hang on for the victory and finish preliminary play with a 2-1 record.
A penalty shot by Stanford grad Tony Azevedo with just 2:10 remaining proved to be the difference.
Bowen's three goals led the way while veteran goalie Merrill Moses posted 11 saves.
Team USA started off strong with Bowen scoring the first two goals of the match, the first coming on a power play. Canada answered with two straight, including a player-advantage strike as time ran out in the period, for a 2-2 match headed to the second.
The second period was quiet on both sides as the USA's John Mann got free inside for a lob shot score for the quarter's only goal.
Ahead 3-2, the United States kept building in the third period. Bowen connected from outside and Mann redirected a precision pass from Michael Rosenthal for a 5-2 lead. Some five minutes later Canada responded on the counterattack to make it 5-3 heading to the fourth quarter.
The scoring picked up on both sides in the final period. Canada found the cage in the first 30 seconds to draw within 5-4. Matt DeTrane answered when his shot was deflected into the cage for a 6-4 lead.
Canada began battling back, pulling within 7-6 with 3:15 to play. A little over a minute later, Mann drew an exclusion at two meters and, when the defender stayed in to contest a re-entry pass to Mann, a penalty was called. Azevedo connected, setting up the game's final sequence.
Team USA will take on the host Spain (1-2) in the quarterfinal qualification on Sunday. Only the top eight advance to the second week of the tournament with Sunday's matches serving as a knockout round.
Mann leads the Americans with nine goals, followed by Bowen with seven.
The American women (3-0) meet Brazil (0-3) on Saturday in the first round of the elimination tournament. A win would mean a rematch with either Spain or The Netherlands on Monday.