Trojans Roll Undefeated To MPSF Title|
Nov. 25, 2012
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The USC men's water polo team's hopes of contending for a fifth straight national championship live strong after the Trojans won its eighth MPSF Tournament title with a resounding 9-5 victory over California at McDonald's Swim Stadium. USC has stormed through the 2012 season in racking up an undefeated record through today's conference championship. The 27-0 Trojans now stand tall with the automatic bid into next week's NCAA Tournament, which will be held at USC's own McDonald's Swim Stadium from Dec. 1-2.
In order to secure the right to defend its four consecutive national championships, USC had to steal the conference crown away from an upset-minded California squad today. The No. 4 seeded Bears had knocked out No. 2 UCLA in Saturday's semifinals while the Trojans held off No. 4 seeded Stanford to earn the spot in the title match. But when the Trojans and the Bears tangled in today's championship bout, USC's resolve and balance won out.
Leading the pack on the scoring front for the first time this year was junior Mace Rapsey, who paired his usual savvy defense with four big goals for the Trojans. Senior Matt Burton would add a pair to the tally, while USC's high-powered guns Kostas Genidounias and Nikola Vavic also plugged in scores along with Connor Virjee. Vavic now holds 79 goals this season -- the most by a Trojan in a single season since 1988 and a count that ranks third best all-time at Troy. His career total also ballooned this tournament, as the junior totes 169 career goals into the coming NCAA Tournament as USC's No. 3 all-time goal scorer. Genidounias also is no scoring slouch on the season, having officially doubled his freshman total, Genidounias now holds 62 goals this year to date for a total that ranks eighth most all-time.
The Trojans led by as much as five goals in the really goings of the second half, up 6-1 as Mace Rapsey completed his first hat trick of the year for USC. But the Bears woke up and made a rallying cry that pulled it to a two-goal game just ticks away from the fourth frame. The Trojan downturn didn't last any longer, however. After Kostas Genidounias popped a pass to Connor Virjee at two meters, Virjee rocketed in the score to give USC an 8-5 lead early in the fourth. The Trojan defense took care of the rest, pitching its second shutout frame against the Bears to fend off any Cal hopes of a comeback. With goalie James Clark reigning supreme in the cage and Trojan field players coming up with key steals, USC would go on to add one more deft blast to the goal count with 3:12 to go. Stephen Siri set that one up, finding Matt Burton at set for a turn and flip to the back of the net that put a 9-5 USC lead on the board for the duration.
The undefeated USC men's water polo team will begin its quest for a fifth straight national championship as the top seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament at 1 p.m. PT on Saturday (Dec. 1) against No. 4 seed Air Force at McDonald's Swim Stadium. Playing in the other NCAA semifinal will be No. 2 seed UCLA and No. 3 seed St. Francis (N.Y.) at 3:12 p.m. On Sunday (Dec. 2), the third-place game of the NCAA Tournament is set for 1 p.m. The national championship game will be held at 3:12 p.m. All matches are held at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium. Live streaming video will be available at ncaa.com. FULL NCAA BRACKET HERE
2012 MPSF Men's Water Polo Tournament