Oct. 28, 1997
Trojans Face UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara
THIS WEEK - The No. 2 USC men's water polo team (12-4 overall, 2-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, for fifth place), hosts UC San Diego on Saturday (Nov. 1) at noon at the McDonald's Swim Stadium, then heads to UC Santa Barbara on Sunday (Nov. 2) for an MPSF contest at noon.
RANKINGS - USC was ranked No. 2 in the Oct. 21 American Water Polo Coaches Association Top 20 Poll, while UC San Diego was No. 8 and UC Santa Barbara was No. 9.
LAST WEEK - The Trojans fell to top-ranked Pepperdine, 12-10, on Saturday (Oct. 25), but rebounded to beat No. 6 UC Irvine, 11-8, on Sunday (Oct. 26) in a pair of home games. USC couldn't stop the Waves, Jeremy Pope, who had seven points. Simun Cimerman had four for the Trojans, who led 8-7 late in the third quarter but couldn't hold on. Against the Anteaters, Mateo Juric had five points and sophomore goalie Richard McEvoy made 15 saves.
OPPONENTS - UC San Diego (10-9) is led by sophomore Ross Mecham,s 33 points. The Trojans have beaten the Tritons once already this season and are 25-0 against them since 1979 ... UC Santa Barbara (9-6, 1-3, sixth place in the MPSF ~ plays Long Beach State on Nov. 1) is led by junior driver Ryan Peddycord,s 34 points. This is the first meeting between the two schools this year. The Trojans are 32-12-2 against the Gauchos since 1979.
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 42 goals and 45 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. He scored nine points at the Nor-Cal Tournament, including the game-winner against Stanford in the championship, and five points in a win against UC Irvine on Oct. 26. He has a total of 15 points. 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 24 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 27 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 - "We can't take anything for granted this week. Playing at Santa Barbara is always very difficult, and they took Pepperdine to overtime earlier this year. We will be training very hard this week because we need to be ready for all of the challenges we'll face in November."