Nov. 5, 1997
USC Hosts Stanford and Long Beach State
THIS WEEK - The No. 2 USC men's water polo team (14-4 overall, 3-2 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation), hosts Stanford on Saturday (Nov. 8) at 10 a.m. and Long Beach State on Sunday (Nov. 9) at noon. Both games are MPSF contests and are at the McDonald's Swim Stadium.
RANKINGS - USC was ranked No. 2 in the Oct. 28 American Water Polo Coaches Association Top 20 Poll, while Stanford was No. 3 and Long Beach State was No. 10.
LAST WEEK - USC put together two outstanding efforts, defeating UC San Diego, 14-5, on Saturday (Nov. 1) at home, and then beating UC Santa Barbara, 8-3, on Sunday (Nov. 2) on the road in an MPSF game. Simun Cimerman scored four points against the Tritons and Sean Hylton had three goals in the win over the Gauchos. Darin Smith had five and nine saves, respectively.
OPPONENTS - Stanford (13-5, 4-2) is led by junior 2-meter man Layne Beaubien and sophomore driver Brian Heifferon, who each have 22 points. The Trojans defeated the Cardinal in the final of the Nor-Cal Tournament, but Stanford leads the series, 44-15, since 1979 ... Long Beach State (8-13, 1-5) is led by junior 2-meter man Jeff Colyer's 31 points. The Trojans defeated the 49ers twice early this season and lead the series, 33-14, 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 44 goals and 47 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 17 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 29 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 30 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 - "These are two very important games this weekend because they'll go a long way toward deciding the seeding for the MPSF Championships. We played very well last weekend and need to keep our momentum going."