Trojans Take Down Cal In Sudden Death
Oct. 15, 2011
BERKELEY, CALIF. - The No. 4 USC men's water polo team wrapped up another tense battle in Berkeley with a win over host Cal, this one taken down to the wire and capped off in sudden death by Jeremy Davie's winner with six seconds to go. Both teams held two-goal advantages during the match, but things tightened up in the fourth to push things into another overtime showdown between the Trojans and the Bears, mirroring the 2010 NCAA Championship match between the two teams in the same pool last season, though the tension would crank up even higher as the match went to sudden death. That's where Joel Dennerley's heroics in the cage helped set up a final strike from Davie, who slammed home the winner for a 9-8 Trojan victory over No. 2 Cal. USC improves to 12-2 overall and is now 3-0 in MPSF play with the win.
The match was a see-saw battle throughout. Cal opened up a 2-0 lead on the Trojans thanks to a 6-on-5 and a 5-meter penalty shot before USC answered with a pair of natural goals from Mace Rapsey and Peter Kurzeka to lock in on a 2-2 tie-up. Cal got another 6-on-5 to go before the end of the first, however, and would tally its first natural goal of the game on a lob in the second to go up 4-2. The Trojans were quick to take the wind out of the Bears' sails, however, as Forest Monroe delivered on a USC 6-on-5 to make it 4-3. Joel Dennerley announced his dominance in goal with a resounding close-range stop on a Cal 6-on-5 chance a minute later, and Tobias Preuss pulled USC even with the Bears with a score off a USC counterattack to make it 4-4 for halftime.
USC took its first lead of the game when Kurzeka hit Nikola Vavic for a nearside blast and a 5-4 USC edge early in the third. Cal would level it at 5-5, but USC had two searing scores ready and waiting. Jeremy Davie notched his first of the day on a power play earned by Brian Boswell, and after some stifling USC defense, Preuss skipped in a shot to the low left post for a 7-5 USC lead at 2:44 in the third. Cal cut in with a score on its next possession, and wound up forcing the game's third tie with a two-meter strike early in the fourth. Both defenses got stubborn from there, and no one was able to break the silence, putting the game into overtime.
The teams traded takeaways in the first overtime frame, while Dennerley put up a nice save. A Cal defensive field block sent the Bears off on a counterattack soon after, and Cory Nasoff finished it off from the post to put Cal up 8-7 with 19 seconds remaining in the first OT. In the second, the Trojans would strike on their opening possession after Michael Rosenthal won his fourth opening sprint of the afternoon. Mace Rapsey found Davie a set for the equalizer at 8-8, and the USC defense took care of the rest as Preuss and Stephen Siri each nabbed steals for the Trojans. After some confusion after Cal tried to call a timeout without possession, one second was put back on the clock for a last USC look for the win, but the shot went high, and the teams were on their way into a heart-stopping sudden death frame.
Cal opened up with the first look on goal, but Dennerley was there for the stop. Cal grabbed a dangerous steal and looked to have the win sewed up with a one-on-one chance against Dennerley, but the senior goalie put up a wall. That save and another big one by Dennerley put USC back on the attack, although the shot attempt would bar out. Mace Rapsey got a steal for the Trojans soon after, and although he was sent off with his third kickout on a double-exclusion, USC had the ball for a 5-on-5 set with 24 ticks to go. USC made the most of the chance. As the clock drained, Vavic found Davie on the post for the winner - a rocket to the back of the net for the win. Dennerley's effort in the cage saw the senior haul in 15 saves, matching a 15-save effort by Cal goalie Justin Parsons on the day.
USC's next action takes the Trojans to Santa Barbara next weekend in a 12 p.m. game vs. the Gauchos on Sunday (Oct. 23).
Oct. 15, 2011 - Berkeley, Calif.