No. 4 Trojans Punch Ticket To SoCal Tournament Rematch Against UCLA|
Oct. 11, 2014
WESTWOOD, CALIF. -- The No. 4 USC men's water polo team secured a semifinal berth at this year's edition of the SoCal Tournament with two stubborn wins today in Westwood, Calif. Winners of the past two SoCal Tournament titles, the Trojans were focused on fighting through to tomorrow's winner's circle. Today at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Complex, USC pinned up a 12-5 win over No. 15 Air Force and then gutted out an exclusion-filled 11-9 victory over No. 6 UC Santa Barbara to advance. Now, the Trojans will tangle with rival and host UCLA tomorrow (Oct. 12) in a 10:50 a.m. semifinal bout. Now carrying a 14-2 overall record, USC looks to avenge last month's loss to the Bruins and make a move toward a third consecutive SoCal Tournament crown. USC beat UCLA in overtime to win last year's tourney title.
Up against Air Force for the third time already this season, the Trojans got the job done once again. It wasn't the offensive explosion of the past two matchups against the Falcons, but USC was more effective at the defensive end in this one. USC took a 3-0 start to the game and really broke things open with a five-goal scoring surge that spanned the second and third periods of play. The Falcon had cut things to 4-2 during the second, and it was 5-2 at halftime when the Trojans made their winning move in the third. USC tacked up the first four goals of the second half to climb out of reach, getting goals from the hands of Marc Vonderweidt, Lachlan Edwards, Kostas Genidounias and Nick Bell during a surge to a 9-2 advantage. Bell would finish out the game with his first career hat trick, and Genidounias matched him with three goals of his own in the win. Vonderweidt and Edwards, it turned out, would wind up next on the list with two goals apiece in the eventual 12-5 win over Air Force.
That victory nudged the Trojans into their third clash of the season against UC Santa Barbara, facing the Gauchos for the third straight week as the two teams fought for the right to a semifinal spot at this week's tourney.
USC manufactured another five-goal rally to pull out of a 3-2 deficit and build a 7-3 lead during the third frame. As the referee's whistle racked up numerous USC ejections, UC Santa Barbara was able to take advantage of the opportunities and pull back to within one, down 7-6 with a three-goal Gaucho surge. Bryce Hoerman put a stop to it with a goal that got USC ahead 8-6 to bring up the final period of play. The game of cat-and-mouse would continue, with UC Santa Barbara clawing to within one two more, cutting it to 8-7 and then 9-8. Rex Butler would rifle in his third of the game to bump USC ahead again, up 10-8 with 5:47 on the clock, and Genidounias broke the cycle with a blast that edged USC out ahead 11-8. One last Gaucho power play would wrap the action on the day, finishing up the game as an 11-9 USC victory.
The Trojans now head into a 10:50 a.m. semifinal bout tomorrow (Oct. 12) against host UCLA at the Bruins' own Spieker Aquatics Center. The two crosstown rivals will tangle for the right to move into tomorrow's 5:55 p.m. title match.
#4 USC 11, #6 UC Santa Barbara 9
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 14, Chris Whitelegge (UCSB) 8.