No. 2 Trojans Go Big In Victorious Home Openers
Sept. 28, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- In a day that saw 13 different Trojans hit the back of the net, it was the defense that stole the show for the No. 2 USC men's water polo team today in its home openers. In fact, it was a knack for steals that helped USC rack up goals as the Trojans piled up a 22-4 win over Princeton and then a 23-2 win over Whittier in a busy morning at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. USC improves to 12-1 overall with today's two wins.
USC extended its overall home winning streak out to 30 in a row thanks to this year's first action at the Trojans' home pool. The doubleheader began with a bout against No. 11 Princeton, which came into the game with an unblemished 6-0 record on the year. Things were quiet for the first four minutes of the morning matchup, but the Trojans warmed up and starting the scoring soon after Connor Virjee nabbed a steal. He'd finish off the offensive opportunity later, taking a pass from Rex Butler to make it a 1-0 USC advantage. Thirty seconds later, Zach Lucas blasted the Trojans to a 2-0 lead with a powerful shot form the post. And after the Trojan defense deterred a Princeton 6-on-5 advantage, Virjee set up Russell Renteria with a pass into set that Renteria ripped home to make it 3-0. The Tigers would get on the board late in the first when the hot-handed Jovan Jeremic went top corner on another Princeton power play.
Jeremic would finish the day with a hat trick for the Tigers, but USC would group four Trojans into that same category by the final buzzer. After eight different Trojans accounted for USC's first eight goals of the day, Zach Lucas, Nikola Vavic and Kostas Genidounias would each add two more in the second half to get to hat tricks in the game. Mace Rapsey turned on his scoring touch in the second half, finishing off a USC counterattack with a score that closed the third frame with USC up 14-4. In the fourth frame, Rapsey would join that trio of Trojans in adding two more scores to round out his hat trick.
Princeton managed two goals in the second period as Jeremic went back-to-back to make it 10-4 on the scoreboard. But USC answered with a 12-goal scoring surge with help from Jeremy Davie, Marc Vonderweidt and Mac Carden joining in the scoring onslaught as the Trojans wrapped the game as a 22-4 USC win with Trojan goalie James Clark going the distance for 10 saves.
The Trojans would have only a short break to regroup and turn their attention to Whittier. The momentum gathered from the 12-goal run with which they finished the Princeton match saw the Trojans stay hot for their startup against the Poets. USC rattled off 11 straight goals out of the gates versus Whittier, thanks in part to four goals scored in the first three minutes of the game. Vavic nailed the first two, followed by a solo shot from Genidounias -- who would finish with four goals in the game -- and then a slick cross from Virjee to Nick Bell for the finish and a 4-0 USC lead. Virjee, Genidounias and Jeremy Davie would stay dangerous during the surge, which was capped at 11-0 by a 5-meter penalty shot earned by Davie and converted by Vonderweidt. Whittier got on the board with a 6-on-5 strike by Nicolas Beavers, and the first half was rounded out with USC ahead 11-1. Aleck Ryner had ruled the cage for that first half, making six saves before giving way to Paul Mitre for the second half. Both goalies would allow just a single Poet goal during their service, while the Trojans defense aided the cause by nabbing takeaway after takeaway.
In the second half, Ivan Kustic and Mac Carden both amassed hat tricks for the Trojan cause as USC finished the game with 11 different scorers. Genidounias led the way with his four, followed by Vavic with his second hat trick of the day and Kustic and Carden's three-goal efforts.
USC will return to action at Uytengsu Aquatics Center next week for the Trojans' first MPSF game of the year. On Saturday (Oct. 5) at 1 p.m., UC Irvine will come to town to take on the host Trojans.
#2 USC 22, #11 Princeton 4
SAVES: James Clark (USC) 10, Ben Dearborn (PRI) 9 [3 periods], Alex Gow (PRI) 1 [1 period].
#2 USC 23, Whittier 2