Top-Ranked Trojans Stop UC Santa Barbara 12-7|
Nov. 3, 2012
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The No. 1 USC men's water polo team has stretched its undefeated 2012 record out to 21-0 with a strong effort today in a 12-7 MPSF win over visiting No. 5 UC Santa Barbara. The Trojans were backed up by 14 saves from goalie James Clark, while Nikola Vavic buried three goals at the other end to up his career total to 150 goals and take his place at No. 9 all-time at Troy. The win also keeps the Trojans perfect in MPSF play, as the 21-0 Trojans are now 6-0 in conference action.
USC made a statement early on, shutting out the Gauchos in the first frame while Vavic ripped in two goals and Kostas Genidounias blasted one for a 3-0 lead out of the gates. Genidounias quickly made that a 4-0 advantage on a solo shot to open the second frame. UCSB's only goal of the half would come on a late 6-on-5 opportunity, with Eric Van de Mortel breaking the silence for the Gauchos to make it 4-1 going into the second half of play. Clark had amassed 10 saves in the first half to anchor the stubborn Trojan defense, although UCSB would find a way to the back of the net a little more often in the second half.
Still, the Trojans stayed the aggressors in the third period, as Mace Rapsey finished off a pass from Vavic to make it 5-1, and then Jeremy Davie roared out of set with a score and a 6-1 Trojan advantage. The Gauchos would then manage back-to-back goals of their own as they cut to within three, down 6-3 on their hosts midway through the third. Davie was in full effect for the Trojans, however, as Tobias Preuss fed a slick pass central for Davie, who whipped in the score to get USC some extra breathing room. After USC put a stop to two UCSB 6-on-5 chances, Preuss served up an even goal for the Trojans to make it 8-3. UCSB would manage a late strike in the final minute to put it at an 8-4 USC lead for the final period, but USC's strength was holding the Trojans in complete control.
Some nifty work by Vavic saw the junior power his way to a third goal on the day, taking him to No. 9 all-time on the USC career scoring charts with his 150th goal of his career. That put USC ahead 9-4 to kick off the fourth, and although UCSB would find a score next, the Trojans had an answer each time. Zach Lucas came through out of set to build USC up to a 10-5 lead, and an intricate passing series on a USC 6-on-5 would feed the ball through Vavic to Matt Burton for a blast that gave USC a six-goal advantage. Rex Butler would get in on the scoring action later in the frame, wrapping up the Trojan attack with a score off a foul, and USC would wrap up the game as a 12-7 victory over the Gauchos.
USC will host Concordia next week in a nonconference game on Saturday (Nov. 10) at McDonald's Swim Stadium. The time is yet to be determined, pending the announcement of the USC football game time that day.
#1 USC 12, #5 UC Santa Barbara 7
SAVES: James Clark (USC) 14, Myles Christian (UCSB) 11.