Trojans Take Third At Mountain Pacific Invite With 8-3 Win Over Pacific|
Sept. 25, 2016
BERKELEY, CALIF. — The No. 2 USC men’s water polo team wrapped up its three-day stint in Berkeley by powering up for an 8-3 win over No. 4 Pacific in the third-place game of the Mountain Pacific Invitational. After taking their first loss of the year yesterday to host Cal, the Trojans regrouped and reloaded, piecing together a powerful defensive stand against the Tigers to improve to 9-1 overall.
The Trojans made an early statement in shutting out the Tigers through the first nine minutes of play. Meanwhile, the USC offense clicked off the first three goals of the game. On USC’s first of just two power plays in the game, James Walters buried his chance off a nice series set up by passes from Grant Stein to Bryce Hoerman to Walters, opening the scoring rally for USC. Blake Edwards would deliver a searing nearside strike next, and then Mihajlo Milicevic hit Matt Maier for a crosscage skipper that tore the side net to take the Trojans to a 3-0 lead in the first frame.
The third time was a charm for the Tigers on their 6-on-5 opportunities, as Pacific broke its silence with a goal just under two minutes into the second. A Lazar Pasuljevic steal soon after would send USC back on the attack, where Thomas Dunstan collected a rebound and hammered it home to build a 4-1 lead for USC. Pacific would convert on its next 6-on-5, though, making it a 4-2 score that would stand up until halftime.
Pacific heaped some pressure on the Trojans to kick off the third quarter in trimming the lead down to one on an early strike. McQuin Baron put a stop to Pacific’s next best chance to equalize with a 6-on-5 save for the Trojan cause, and minutes later USC had padded out its lead to two on a Walters feed to Stein for a laser that made it 5-3 Trojans. Blake Edwards would issue a field block on Pacific’s next power play, holding USC’s lead intact to bring up the fourth. There, USC reasserted its dominance. Pacific was held scoreless by the Trojan defense for the final stretch of play — thanks in part to Baron’s 10-save performance on the day — while USC rang up three more goals to solidify the win. To complement that defensive prowess, USC had Matteo Morelli zip in a ripping crosscage score to make it 6-3, followed by an Edwards-to-Edwards connecting finished off by Lachlan Edwards on the far post and then the finishing touch from Stein off a Pasuljevic setup to top off an 8-3 win for the Trojans.
USC actually now returns to Los Angeles to host a rematch against Pacific in a nonconference clash on Saturday (Oct. 1) at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The game will be held at either 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. that day, to be announced tomorrow (Monday).
MOUNTAIN PACIFIC INVITATIONAL (Berkeley, Calif.)
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 10, Alen Osmanovic (PAC) 8.