No. 1 USC Edged Out 11-10 At No. 3 Stanford|
Oct. 18, 2014
PALO ALTO, CALIF. -- The top-ranked USC men's water polo team put forth a ferocious comeback in today's MPSF matchup against No. 3 Stanford, but the home Cardinal was able to come up with the late-game winner and hand USC an 11-10 loss in Palo Alto. The Trojans trailed by three late in the third period, but rallied back to tie it up. The game stayed locked entering the final minute of play until Stanford finished off one last power play to take an 11-10 lead that would stand to the final whistle. USC goes to 16-3 overall and 2-1 in MPSF play with the loss.
USC never led in the game, but did force the issue several times. The Cardinal and Trojans were neck-and-neck through the first period, as USC had Kostas Genidounias and Max Hurst-Mendoza tally equalizers for the USC cause in that first frame. In the second, however, Stanford streaked ahead as USC came up empty on the other end. Three straight Stanford goals put USC in a 5-2 hole, forcing the Trojans to find an offensive spark. A big McQuin Baron save to start the first half of action helped provide a boost, and then USC manufactured back-to-back goals from the hands of Rex Butler and Genidounias. The senior contingent continued to click when Butler blasted another to answer a Stanford strike, making it 6-5. The whistle would blow again in Stanford's favor next, however, and the Cardinal converted on the power play to nudge ahead 7-5. Next, Stanford was granted a 5-meter penalty shot, finishing that off and stepping out to another three-goal lead, up 8-5. Butler would get to a hat trick before the close of the third to bring USC back within two, trailing 8-6 entering the fourth frame.
In the fourth, sophomore Nick Bell went big with back-to-back strikes, joining his senior teammates in the scoring column to bring his Trojans even with the Cardinal for the first time since the first period of play. And still, Stanford had goals at the ready. The Cardinal would go up 9-8, but Bell broke right back and made it 9-9 with his third goal of the frame. Again, Stanford edged ahead, and again USC had an answer, this one a searing score from Butler for his fourth of the day. With it snarled at 10-10 entering the final minute, Stanford snagged back the lead with 41 ticks to go, and USC nailed the bar at the other end to finish just inches away from overtime and wind up with the 11-10 defeat.
USC now returns home to regroup for its next MPSF match. The Trojans will host Pacific for a 1 p.m. game next Saturday (Oct. 25) at Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
#3 Stanford 11, #1 USC 10
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 10, Drew Holland (STAN) 20.