FINA Water Polo World USA drew

A great goalie is also helpful in the equation. USA’s Drew Holland, the goalie for the American men’s national team, is the subject of this week’s Scoring Goals interview. The process by which you get to a result is just as important in water polo as the outcome itself. Many coaches will tell you that winning games depends more on defense than it does on offense.

Nations are doing their best to prepare their teams in these Covid-19 days as the 19th FINA World Championships in Hungary draw near and they are taking advantage of any opportunity to play international matches.

The pandemic has disrupted some European FINA World League matches, but for non-European nations, the FINA World League Intercontinental Cup qualification tournament was held over the past two weeks in Lima, Peru, with some intriguing outcomes none more so than the multiple champion USA women losing to Canada and Australia.

The USA proved to be the greatest team in the men’s event, recovering from a round-robin loss by one goal against the Aussie Sharks to win the championship game 7-6 against the same opponent. Drew Holland, the tournament’s top goalie, who had an outstanding 14 pull-downs in the 10-9 semifinal victory over Canada, had 11 saves in the final to help his team win. He served as the event’s captain in his absence.

The USA rose to the top of the podium thanks to his defensive leadership and goalkeeping dexterity

Drew, who will turn 27 soon, was asked how the youthful competitors and seasoned competitors came together in Lima. He responded, “I am very thrilled about taking first place in Lima; it is a fantastic start to the year for us. Our younger players had a tremendous opportunity to gain experience, and I felt that we worked well together. Our younger group is incredibly talented, and I’m quite optimistic about what they can do. I’m also eager to reunite with my teammates from Lima, including (Ben) Hallock, (Alex) Bowen, (Max) Irving, and others.


Looking ahead to Budapest this coming northern summer, how do you believe the team will rehabilitate following Tokyo?

We gained a lot of confidence and shown our ability to compete with anyone in the globe this past summer by placing sixth in Tokyo and second in the World League (Super Final) in Georgia. I believe we are set up for a successful event in Budapest now that we have the necessary components in place. Our team is young overall, but the strain of the Olympics has given us experience that will be useful as we travel to Budapest.

What were some of the most important lessons you discovered both before and during the Olympic Games in Tokyo?

“I believe that handling pressure and retaining confidence while under pressure may be the most crucial aspect of being a goalie. Our performance in the World League this past summer in the run-up to Tokyo greatly assisted with that. I also established a pattern that works for me on big-game days, including a sleep schedule, breakfast, stretching, warm-up, and, of course, coffee, during Tokyo last summer. In Budapest, I’ll undoubtedly continue doing it.

Additionally, the World Championships and Olympics are lengthy competitions, and it requires considerable expertise to stay focused and improve over the course of the entire two-week timeframe. One of the main lessons we took away from Tokyo was the necessity to improve during the competition and play our best water polo at the right moments.

How has playing for Chios’ professional club improved your game?

“The last few years of playing professionally in Greece have significantly improved my game. It has been quite beneficial for me as a goalie to become more accustomed to the European style of play and see European shooters’ various fakes and shoots. Additionally, it greatly aids in game experience. More high-level games are available to play in European professional leagues than I could in the USA. Without a doubt, I intend to keep performing in Europe.

The Stanford University four-time All-American, who spent the 2018–19 season playing with Caballa in Spain, will bring all of that knowledge to Hungary in mid June.

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