Men's Water Polo
    Top-Ranked Trojans Trip Up In NorCal Title Match
    Zach Lucas ripped in two goals today vs. the Bruins and forced OT with Stanford with a goal vs. the Cardinal
    Zach Lucas ripped in two goals today vs. the Bruins and forced OT with Stanford with a goal vs. the Cardinal

    Sept. 22, 2013

    BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The No. 1 USC men's water polo team felt the sting of defeat for the first time since 2011 today in the title match of the NorCal Tournament. The Trojans had won 41 straight games entering today's championship bout with UCLA, including this morning's overtime victory over Stanford in the semifinals. USC had won the past three NorCal Tournament titles, but today it was the Bruins who had the winning touch. With the 8-7 win over Stanford and 9-8 loss to UCLA today, USC is now 10-1 overall this season.

    In the morning's semifinal clash with Stanford, USC had to endure a four-goal scoring surge by the Cardinal that saw Stanford turn a 4-2 Trojan lead into a 6-4 Stanford advantage midway through the fourth quarter. USC snapped that scoreless slump with a blast from Kostas Genidounias to cut the deficit to one with 1:40 to go in regulation. In the final minute, Zach Lucas punched in the equalizer to make it 6-6 and ultimately force overtime.

    Genidounias' third goal of the game came during the first OT frame, putting USC up 7-6. The Trojans would extend their scoring run out to four in a row when Connor Virjee ripped in a score to take the Trojans ahead 8-6 with 1:31 left in OT. Stanford got one to go with 25 ticks to go, but the Trojans held strong to their advantage to net the 8-7 win and punch their ticket to the title match for a shot at defending their three straight NorCal titles.

    The championship match was a tight affair, with no team leading by more than a single goal throughout as the two rivals fought through eight ties. The Trojans would trail the Bruins 4-3 after the first frame, but took a 6-5 advantage at halftime thanks to a score from Nikola Vavic with 39 seconds to go. In the third, Connor Virjee would deliver another final-minute strike for USC to put the Trojans up 7-6 entering the fourth frame. The Bruins opened the fourth with back-to-back goals to put USC behind 8-7 with five minutes left in regulation. Kostas Genidounias would come up with the equalizer with 3:30 to go, only to see the Bruins jump back on top 45 seconds later. That 9-8 UCLA edge would hold up until the buzzer, leaving the Bruins as the winners of this 2013 NorCal Tournament title.

     

     

    Today's loss stops USC's winning streak at 41 in a row -- three short of the program record. USC's last loss was a 10-9 sudden-death defeat by UCLA back at the 2011 MPSF Tournament title match.

    USC now returns to Los Angeles to set up for the Trojans' home openers on Saturday (Sept. 28) at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. USC will host Princeton at 10 a.m. that day, followed by a 11:30 a.m. matchup with Whittier.

    2013 NORCAL TOURNAMENT (Berkeley, Calif.)

    SEMIFINALS
    #1 USC 8, #5 Stanford 7
    Sept. 22, 2013 - Berkeley, Calif.
    USC 1 - 1 - 2 - 2 -- 1 - 1 = 8
    STAN 2 - 0 - 2 - 2 -- 0 - 1 = 7

    SCORING:
    USC -- Kostas Genidounias 3, Connor Virjee 2, Rex Butler, Mace Rapsey, Zach Lucas.
    STAN -- n/a
    SAVES: James Clark (USC) 10, Holland (STAN) 14.

    CHAMPIONSHIP
    #2 UCLA 9, #1 USC 8
    Sept. 22, 2013 - Berkeley, Calif.
    USC 3 - 3 - 1 - 1 = 8
    UCLA 4 - 1 - 1 - 3 = 9

    SCORING:
    USC -- Mace Rapsey 3, Zach Lucas 2, Kostas Genidounias 2, Nikola Vavic.
    UCLA -- n/a
    SAVES: James Clark (USC) 4, UCLA 11.