No. 3 USC Finishes Fourth At MPSF Tournament|
Nov. 23, 2014
LONG BEACH, CALIF. -- The No. 3 USC men's water polo team just wasn't clicking today. Up against rival UCLA in the third-place game at the MPSF Tournament, the Trojans found themselves hamstrung by a slow start and were unable to recover. The Bruins would prevail and take third with a 10-5 victory over USC, putting the Trojans at 22-6 overall. USC senior Kostas Genidounias led the Trojans with three goals, and in doing so he pulls even at the No. 1 all-time scoring spot, now tied with Nikola Vavic with 254 career goals.
USC senior Marc Vonderweidt was the first Trojan to break through today. His blast got USC on the board to make it a 4-1 UCLA advantage at the end of the first period of play. The Bruins would generate the first three goals of the second period, though, putting the Trojans in a 7-1 hole as halftime loomed. That's when Genidounias kicked into gear, slicing in the score for USC to make it 7-2 on the way into the second half.
USC's offense would continue to misfire, though, while the Bruins plugged in a couple more goals to build a 9-2 lead. Genidounias would set up freshman Matteo Morelli soon after, getting USC a third-frame score to make it 9-3 entering the final period of play. After half the frame passes scoreless, USC netted a 5-meter penalty shot care of Genidounias to make it 9-4. UCLA struck again to get up 10-4, leaving USC with a daunting deficit. Genidounias stood up to the challenge and rifled in his hat trick, tying Nikola Vavic for the top all-time career goal tally, and making it 10-5. That score would stand as the final, leaving the Trojans with fourth place in the tournament.
This year's MPSF Tournament effort marked the first time since 2009 that the Trojans have appeared in the third-place game. USC took third that year on the way to winning its second consecutive NCAA title. This fourth-place finish is the lowest since taking fifth at the conference tourney in 2002. This year's Trojans are looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament for the 10th straight season and set up defense of their six consecutive national championships. The selection committee for this year's six-team NCAA Tournament is scheduled to decide the two at-large berths later tonight (Nov. 23).
2014 MPSF TOURNAMENT - Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center (Long Beach, Calif.)
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 6, Garrett Danner (UCLA) 14.