Top-seeded Trojans Stay Perfect With Trip To MPSF Title Match
Nov. 24, 2012
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - The undefeated USC men's water polo team held court in home waters once again with an 11-10 victory over No. 4 seeded Stanford in today's semifinals of the MPSF Tournament at McDonald's Swim Stadium. The win not only holds intact USC's perfect season to date with a 26-0 record, it sends the host Trojans into the MPSF title match tomorrow at 3 p.m. The victory also all but sews up a spot in the coming NCAA Tournament for the Trojans, who also play host to that tourney next weekend (Dec. 1-2).
Big guns came to play on both ends today, as USC's Kostas Genidounias served up four for the Trojan cause and Stanford got four apiece from Alex Bowen and BJ Churnside. The difference was USC's widespread successes from three different Trojans with two - Connor Virjee, Nikola Vavic and Mace Rapsey - while USC goalie James Clark knocked down 10 saves on the defensive end.
The Trojans never trailed in today's semifinal bout with Stanford, although the game was locked up even three times in the first half. In the third frame, USC made its move. Stanford's Brett Bonanni had made it 5-5 early in the third, prompting the Trojans to kick into gear. Kostas Genidiounias made the rallying cry as he first finished off a perfect pass from Nikola Vavic for a 6-5 USC lead at 6:29. Genidounias would then follow up a takeaway on defense with an unstoppable blast at the post for a 7-5 advantage. Matt Burton took care of things on the defensive end next as USC finally squelched a Stanford 6-on-5. Genidounias forced another turnover by the Cardinal next, and USC would go up on its own power play soon after. An opportunistic Mace Rapsey snagged the rebound and punched in the score, taking USC up 8-5 for its largest lead of the game.
That lead held up into the fourth period, where Stanford managed to cut to within one on two occasions. Back-to-back scores from Stanford's BJ Churnside hauled the Cardinal to trail just 9-8 with 2:35 to go, but USC had a response. Vavic proved just too strong as he powered in some padding with a 10-8 Trojan lead. But Stanford's Alex Bowen had a fourth goal waiting on a Stanford 6-on-5, and it was a 10-9 game with 1:40 on the clock. Putting himself in the right place at the right time once again was USC's Rapsey, whose savvy rebound and swift backhand blast got the Trojans up 11-9 with 1:18 to go, which was enough to bring home the win for USC despite a late 6-on-5 score from Stanford.
USC now faces either No. 2 seed UCLA or No. 3 seed California in the MPSF Tournament championship match tomorrow (Nov. 24) at 3 p.m. to play for the automatic berth in the Dec. 1-2 NCAA Tournament at McDonald's Swim Stadium.
Semifinal 1 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012