No. 3 USC Swamps No. 4 Long Beach State 13-7|
Nov. 8, 2014
LONG BEACH, CALIF. -- The No. 3 USC men's water polo team ripped its way out of reach of No. 4 host Long Beach State today as senior Rex Butler plunked in three of his final five goals during a six-goal surge by the Trojans. That rally left the 49ers in the Trojans' wake, and USC stayed in control for an eventual 13-7 victory. The win improves USC's overall record to 19-4 and takes the Trojans to a 4-2 MPSF mark.
Butler was USC's spark from the start, nabbing a steal at the defensive end and then eventually rifling in the first goal of the day at the other. Long Beach State would manage back-to-back goals next to sneak into a slim lead midway through the first frame, but the Trojans regrouped quickly and with a vengeance. Marc Vonderweidt whipped in the equalizer just seconds after the 49ers had grabbed a lead, and the Trojans would just keep coming. Butler blasted two more next, delivering a buzzer-beater to notch a first-frame hat trick and put USC ahead 4-2. In the second, USC rolled on. Mihajlo Milicevic finished off a USC 6-on-5, and after posting a field block against a LBSU power play, it was Butler again on the attack. Butler's fourth of the day came on a Trojan 6-on-5, and USC followed that up with a freshman connection between Bryce Hoerman and Matteo Morelli. Hoerman delivered the cross for Morelli, and the Italian would zip it through to make it a six-goal surge by the Trojans. The 49ers would snap their eight-plus minutes of scoring silence with a lob shot, but USC had the last words of the half with McQuin Baron collecting a save and James Walters rocketing in a goal to make it 8-3 USC at the break.
Long Beach State picked up the pace in the third with a 6-on-5 goal out of the gates, only to see USC answer with another Milicevic blast. A 5-meter penalty shot and a counterattack finish from the 49ers closed the gap to three, with USC up 9-6, but the Trojans again would respond. Next up on the attack was senior Kostas Genidounias with a long-range missile to take the Trojans ahead 10-6, and Morelli would fizz in his second of the day with a crosscage strike that made it 11-6 USC for the close of the third. In the fourth, Butler and Morelli both were not done with their scoring onslaughts. The senior Butler tallied his fifth early in the final frame. With two minutes to go, Genidounias found freshman Morelli for a 6-on-5 connection that Morelli promptly sent home to balloon USC's advantage to 13-6. Long Beach State would manage one last goal in the final minute of action, and that would stand as the last of the day as USC rounded out the 13-7 road victory. Butler led all scorers with five goals today, with Morelli adding a hat trick to help pace the Trojans. Goalie Baron finished up with 13 saves for the USC defense.
USC stays on the road for another MPSF matchup tomorrow (Nov. 9) with a visit to No. 12 UC Irvine at 12 p.m.
#3 USC 13, #4 Long Beach State 7
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 13, Pavo Ljepopio (LBSU) 12.