No. 1 USC Muscles Into SoCal Tournament Title Match
Sept. 30, 2012
SANTA BARBARA, CALIF. - The No. 1 USC men's water polo team hit cruise control for the SoCal Tournament semifinals this morning in Santa Barbara, Calif., exacting business as usual against No. 5 UC Irvine in a 10-5 win. A balanced Trojan effort kept USC in the driver's seat for a trip to the title match this afternoon against either No. 2 UCLA or No. 6 host UC Santa Barbara. USC enters the championship game with a 13-0 overall record.
The No. 5 Anteaters came into the semifinals off a stunning 13-11 upset of No. 4 California the previous afternoon - the Bears' first loss by more than one goal since the Trojans' 12-10 overtime NCAA Championship win in 2010.
After serving up five goals each for the Trojan offense the previous day, Kostas Genidounias and Nikola Vavic stayed on pace this morning, too. With a hat trick apiece vs. the Anteaters, the Trojan duo led the way for USC as it turned a 3-3 lockup in the first frame into an 8-3 lead going into the final period. Defensively, USC's dominant goalie tandem of James Clark and Ely Bonilla shared time again in the cage as USC shut out UC Irvine in the second and third periods of play on the way to the 10-5 final.
The SoCal Tournament title match is set for 5:40 p.m. today (Sept. 30) at Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara, Calif. The Trojans will either face No. 2 UCLA for the fourth straight time in a tournament final, or go up against No. 6 UC Santa Barbara for the first time this year.
USC's tournament final stretch against the Bruins dates back to a 10-9 sudden-death loss in the 2011 MPSF Championship game, which has been followed by a 7-4 win in the 2011 NCAA Championship and a 7-6 win in the 2012 NorCal Tournament title match earlier this month.
SOCAL TOURNAMENT (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
#1 USC 10, #6 UC Irvine 5
USC 3 - 3 - 2 - 2 = 10
UCI 3 - 0 - 0 - 2 = 5