No. 4 USC Dominates UCLA In Westwood In SoCal Semifinal|
Oct. 12, 2014
WESTWOOD, CALIF. -- The No. 4 USC men's water polo team blazed a trail to the SoCal Tournament title match with a knockout punch of top-seeded tournament host and crosstown rival UCLA today in the semifinals. The Trojans shrugged off the Bruins' early advantage and drilled six straight goals leave UCLA on the ropes. USC would lead by as much as six, and the game wrapped as a 10-6 Trojan victory. Now. 15-2 overall with revenge over rival UCLA in the books, the Trojans could be looking for some more vengeance next as they set up to face either No. 2 Stanford or No. 3 California in the championship bout at 5:55 p.m. today (Oct. 12) at Spieker Aquatics Center in Westwood, Calif.
USC has won the last two SoCal Tournament titles and has claimed the crown in 10 of the previous 11 years. Today's semifinal clash against UCLA marked a rematch of last month's NorCal Tournament semifinal tilt, where the Bruins managed a 9-7 win over the Trojans. One man not in the water for USC in that one was sophomore Nick Bell, recovering from injury. Bell was in full effect today for the Trojans, though, and he rang up a new career high with four goals rocketed through for the Trojan cause against the Bruins. His first served as the early equalizer, making it 2-2 after UCLA had grabbed a 1-0 and then a 2-1 lead in the first two minutes of play. Bell's sneaky 6-on-5 blast sparked that sizzling six-goal surge by USC, which racked up goals from Lazar Pasuljevic, Rex Butler and Kostas Genidounias before Bell capped the run with another incredible strike that got USC a 6-2 lead on the Bruins early in the second frame.
Things quieted down on the offensive end for USC from there, while UCLA finally broke its silence with two goals before halftime to make it a 6-4 USC advantage going into the break. The Bruins could not solve the Trojans in the third, however. While McQuin Baron and the USC defense had the Bruins on lockdown at one end, the USC offense kicked into gear. Marc Vonderweidt set the tone with a rise and slam to start the onslaught. Genidounias would find Bell for a 6-on-5 laser next, and UCLA was feeling the pressure. The Bruins misfired on a 6-on-5 chance, sent a 5-meter penalty shot off the post and then failed on another power play before Bell came through once again. Underwater at set, Bell still managed to find the back of the net, ripping in his fourth of the day to nudge USC to a 9-4 lead. Soon after, Baron hit Genidounias for a counterattack missile that ripped open a 10-4 advantage for USC at the close of the third.
With a hefty lead well in-hand, USC was able to take its time in the final frame. The Bruins were granted a couple more 6-on-5 opportunities, and converted both, but that would be all for the scoring in the period as USC had its ticket to the title match firmly in its grasp with the 10-6 final victory.
The SoCal Tournament championship match is set for 5:55 p.m. today (Oct. 12) at Spieker Aquatics Center in Westwood, Calif. USC will go up against either No. 2 Stanford or No. 3 California, which beat the Trojans last month in the third-place game of the NorCal Tournament in Stockton.
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 12, Garrett Danner (UCLA) 9.