Men's Water Polo

    Oct. 22, 1997

    Trojan's Face Pepperdine and UC Irvine

    THIS WEEK - The USC men's water polo team (11-3 overall, 1-1 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), coming off its third straight Northern California Tournament championship, hosts two local schools this weekend. On Saturday (Oct. 25), the Trojans face Pepperdine at 2 p.m. and on Sunday (Oct. 26), the Trojans meet UC Irvine at noon. Both games are MPSF contests and are at the McDonald's Swim Stadium.

    RANKINGS - USC was ranked No. 3 in the Oct. 14 American Water Polo Coaches Association Top 20 Poll, while Pepperdine was No. 1 and UC Irvine was No. 5.

    LAST WEEK - The Trojans won their third straight Northern California Tournament title, beating host Stanford, 6-5, in the final on Sunday (Oct. 19). Mateo Juric scored two goals, including the game-winner with 1:55 to play. Juric scored eight points in the tournament, while Marko Pintaric led the Trojans with 13. USC beat No. 2 California, 9-6, in a semifinal for the first time this season in three tries.

    OPPONENTS - Pepperdine (15-1, 3-0) hosts Long Beach State on Friday, Oct. 24. Defeated the Trojans in the final of the Southern California Tournament on Sept. 21. The Waves are led by junior 2-meter man Jeremy Pope's 36 points ... UC Irvine (6-8, 1-2) hosts Cal on Friday, Oct. 24. Has already lost twice to the Trojans. The Anteaters are led by senior 2-meter man Robert Allaire's 20 points.

    JOHN WILLIAMS & JOVAN VAVIC - 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).

    MARKO PINTARIC - 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 40 goals and 43 points. He was named MPSF Player of the Week on Oct. 5 after scoring five points in a win against UCLA (Oct. 3). Pintaric was named to the All-So-Cal Tournament first team after leading the Trojans in scoring with nine goals. He led the Trojans in scoring at the Nor-Cal Tournament with 13 points.

    MATEO JURIC - After missing the first eight games with a wrist injury, senior driver Mateo Juric is back and at the top of his game. After scoring two goals against Cal on Oct. 12, he scored nine points at the Nor-Cal Tournament, including the game-winner against Stanford in the championship. Juric is a two-time third team All-American.

    SIMUN CIMERMAN - A second team All-American in 1996 and an honorable mention All-American in 1995, Simun Cimerman could earn first team honors with another strong campaign in 1997. The senior driver, who has one of the best shots in the NCAA, has scored 19 points so far. He was named to the All-So-Cal Tournament first team.

    JAMES CASTLE - A starter on the U.S. Junior National Team the last two years, sophomore James Castle (Hacienda Heights, Wilson HS) is one of USC's standouts in 1997. He's playing well with 22 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-So-Cal Tournament second team.

    COACH WILLIAMS SAYS - 'The Nor-Cal Tournament was the best that we have played this year. I don't know that we've ever beaten UCLA, Cal and Stanford in a 24-hour period before. Marko Pintaric had a fantastic tournament and would have been MVP if they had named one. Mateo Juric has made a nice comeback. We got great support off the bench and all of our young players came through.