No. 2 Trojans Swamp No. 3 Bruins 8-5
Nov. 6, 2010
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - After a string of tight contests against its crosstown rival, the No. 2 USC men's water polo team swamped No. 3 UCLA with an 8-5 victory in front of a standing-room-only crowd at McDonald's Swim Stadium. In arguably the most pivotal match of the year between the Trojans and Bruins, USC took early control and put forth a ferociously balanced gameplan to keep the Bruins at bay. The victory stands as USC's fourth straight over UCLA, and the first in that stretch to be decided by more than a goal. The Trojans followed up the match with another win in completing a doubleheader day with a 16-1 win over Whittier. The day's work improves USC to 20-2 overall and 4-2 in MPSF play.
Big saves from goalie Joel Dennerley helped anchor a stubborn USC defense on the day. Peter Kurzeka snagged two huge interceptions against UCLA 6-on-5 opportunities, and Matt Burton threw up a couple key field bocks to further the Trojan defensive cause in the match. Offensively, Tobias Preuss led the way against the Bruins with a hat trick, with Jeremy Davie adding a pair of goals. UCLA had five different players score in the match.
While Dennerley slammed down early UCLA strikes and Matt Burton nabbed a first-period steal, USC's offense clicked off three straight scores. The first two were ripped in by Tobias Preuss, and the third came from a blast from the post by Jeremy Davie on a 6-on-5 assist from Kurzeka. USC's 3-0 lead was sliced to 3-1 when UCLA finally got on the board with a 6-on-5 score of its own, but USC had an answer in the second frame. USC's defense reigned supreme in silencing the Bruins in the second, while Burton found Davie for a booming strike from set that made it 4-1 USC just under two minutes from halftime. Dennerley put up a wall the rest of the way, and USC's three-goal advantage was still intact at the halftime buzzer.
The Bruins made a little noise early in the third when Cristiano Mirarchi finished off a UCLA counterattack to make it 4-2, but more ferocious USC power play defense squelched any Bruins hopes of cutting in further. Meanwhile, on a USC 6-on-5, Michael Rosenthal sailed a smooth cross pass to Nikola Vavic on the right, and Vavic slotted it back crosscage for a 5-2 USC boost. Yet another impressive Dennerley save - this one against a dangerous UCLA lob attempt - kept the Bruin crowd quiet, and soon at the other end of the pool Forest Monroe found Brian Boswell for a slick shot out of set for USC's biggest lead of the game, up 6-2.
In the fourth, UCLA again struck first, but again the Trojans had a better response. After Emilio Viera's skip shot for UCLA made it 6-3, Steven Siri earned a 6-on-5 for the Trojans and Preuss registered his third goal of the game soon after. A minute and a half later, after another stingy USC defensive series, Vavic slotted a pass to Burton for a laser from the post and an insurmountable five-goal lead with 3:29 remaining. UCLA would manage a pair of goals in the remaining time to make it look respectable thanks to a string of Bruin 6-on-5 opportunities, but the Trojans emerged victorious in the crucial rivalry match with the 8-5 win.
USC would turn right around and take on a second opponent afterward, facing Whittier in a nonconference matchup. The Trojans punched in the first five goals of the game before the Poets got on the board in the second period. That would be all for Whittier, however, as USC racked up an 11-goal run to the end for a 16-1 victory. Connor Virjee led the Trojans with four goals, followed by two apiece from Rex Butler, Max Hurst-Mendoza, Zayne Belal and Cem Carak, while goalie Will Simon gathered in six saves.
Saturday, Nov. 6 - McDonald's Swim Stadium
SAVES: Joel Dennerley (USC) 12, James Hartshorne (UCLA) 8
#2 USC 16, Whittier 1
SAVES: Will Simon (USC) 6, Chris Maloney (WC) 5, Ryan Rock (WC) 1.