COSTA MESA – Ryan Bailey says he wants to become a fireman after the 2012 Olympics. The former UC Irvine All-American showed a skill he can use for the future, while playing for the U.S. men’s water polo team on Sunday.
Bailey came to the rescue, scoring the go-ahead goal in the fourth quarter to help the Americans to an 8-6 victory over Canada at Costa Mesa High. Bailey, an assistant coach for the Corona del Mar High boys’ water polo team, led Team USA with three goals.
Bailey, who turns 36 in August, says the upcoming London Games will be his fourth and final Olympics. He’ll stop playing and become a fireman, he said. He recently completed a 10-week course with a fire academy, he said, and he’s excited to become a firefighter.
“It just seems like a great job,” said Bailey, the Americans’ team captain, who used his leadership skills just before scoring on a great backhand shot with 6:40 left to give the U.S. a 7-6 lead. “I was at five meters. I just got done yelling at the guys, ‘We’re at home. We gotta beat the Canadians.’ So I felt I had to do something. JW Krumpholz just gave me a nice pass and I went with the backhand.”
Brian Alexander scored again with 3:08 left and the Americans held off Canada. The two games at Costa Mesa were to help determine seeding at next month’s FINA World League Prelims in Italy. Bailey said the games were more to get a feel about how the U.S. team is playing.
Of course it helped that the Americans won both games, but they showed plenty of rust and a lack of chemistry. That makes sense since some of their top players haven’t been training with the squad recently and didn’t play this weekend.
The Americans went four for eight on the power play and Bailey missed a five-meter penalty shot.
“It was frustrating,” said John Mann, a U.S. center who starred at Corona del Mar High. “Our passes just aren’t crisp. We were a little too high and we’re not working together on the right things, but it’s coming together.”
Mann was involved in a sensational play for the U.S. with 6:35 left in the first half. Mann tapped a pass to Krumpholz, who quickly threw it to Tommy Corcoran. That gave Corcoran an open look and he finished it with a goal and a 3-1 lead. But the Canadians hung around and eventually tied the game, 6-6, heading into the fourth.
Part of the reason Canada stayed in the game was because it slowed down the game, Bailey said. The slow tempo threw off the Americans, who want to play at a fast pace, Bailey said.
They’ll want to control the game next month and at next year’s Olympics. Bailey wants to make the 2012 Olympics count.
He began with the U.S. team when he was 23. He was the youngest player on the team. Now he’s the oldest. He’s hoping to end his career with a gold medal then it will be time to put out fires and save lives.