Men's Water Polo

    Oct. 14, 1997

    USC Men's Water Polo Release

    The No. 3 USC men,s water polo team (7-3 overall, 1-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) travels to the Bay Area for the Northern California Tournament on Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 18-19). USC opens with a game against UMass on Saturday at 10:20 a.m. at West Valley College. Sunday,s action takes place at Stanford. The Trojans have won the tournament the last two years, and beat UCLA, 13-8, for the 1996 championship.

    NEWS & NOTES -
    The Trojans are off to a good start, including a second-place finish at their own Southern California Tournament, despite currently being without three likely starters from the lineup. Those missing are: Luke Daniels (wrist), Bjorn Nordstrom (Mormon mission) and Stever O,Rourke (broken arm). In addition, senior driver Mateo Juric was out for the first eight games with a wrist injury. As a two-time third team All-American who scored 47 points in 1996, Juric had been the player most missed. He returned to play a bit against UCLA and then scored two goals against California.

    USC was ranked No. 3 in the Oct. 7 American Water Polo Coaches Association Top 20 Poll.

    USC lost a heartbreaker to No. 2 California on Sunday (Oct. 12), falling 10-8 in overtime at the McDonald,s Swim Stadium. The Trojans rallied in the fourth quarter, coming back from a 7-5 deficit to take an 8-7 lead with 1:26 to play. But Cal scored with nine seconds left to tie it, then scored the only two goals in overtime. Mateo Juric and Marko Pintaric each scored two goals for the Trojans.

    Co-head coaches John Williams and Jovan Vavic shared MPSF Coach of the Year honors in 1996 after leading USC to the conference championship as well as an overall record of 23-3 and a second-place national finish. Williams, a former USC All-American, entered his 25th year as head coach of the Trojans with a record of 403-243-7 (.623). Vavic was promoted to co-head coach prior to 1995, and in the last two seasons, USC went 43-8 (.843).

    USC's newest addition from Croatia, junior driver Marko Pintaric has had little trouble adjusting to collegiate water polo. He is the Trojans, leading scorer with 28 goals and 30 points. He was named MPSF Player of the Week on Monday (Oct. 5) after scoring five points in a win against UCLA (Oct. 3). He scored five goals against UC Davis (Sept. 26) and five points against Long Beach State (Sept. 16). Pintaric was named to the All-Southern California Tournament first team after leading the Trojans in scoring with nine goals. Pintaric is a former member of the Croatian Junior National team.

    A second team All-American in 1996 and an honorable mention All-American in 1995, Simun Cimerman will be in line for first team honors with another strong campaign in 1997. The senior driver, who has one of the best shots in the NCAA, has scored 15 points so far. He was named to the All-Southern California Tournament first team. A native of Zagreb, Croatia, he has also played on the Croatian Junior National team.

    A starter on the U.S. Junior National Team the last two years, sophomore James Castle (Hacienda Heights, Wilson HS) will be one of USC,s standouts in 1997. He,s off to a great start with 18 points, including a career-high four goals against UC Davis (Sept. 26). Castle surpassed his 1996 total of 17 points after just nine games. He was named to the All-Southern California Tournament second team.

    This is going to be a very tough weekend. We should have at least three difficult games against highly ranked opponents. After UMass, we should play UCLA, and then hopefully we,ll face California and Pepperdine. That would give us a chance to avenge some losses. We,re going with the intention of winning the tournament again.0/00