No. 1 Trojans Take Trip To MPSF Title Match
Nov. 26, 2011
WESTWOOD, CALIF. - The top-seeded and top-ranked USC men's water polo team answered a four-goal Stanford surge with a winning streak to the finish line as the Trojans snagged an 8-6 win over the No. 4 seeded Cardinal in today's MPSF semifinals in Westwood. The comeback victory jumps USC into tomorrow's title match, where the Trojans are looking to make it back-to-back MPSF Tournament championships in order to secure a seventh straight trip to the NCAA Championships for the owners of the past three national championships. With today's win, USC has its 13th straight win and holds a 22-2 overall record on the way into tomorrow's 3 p.m. MPSF final against host UCLA at Spieker Aquatic Center.
Stanford made a 4-0 run on the Trojans in the first half to two-goal lead at the break, but USC pitched a second-half shutout against the Cardinal. First, the Trojans had to endure a silent third period in which both defenses stubbornly turned away all strikes to hold it at 6-4 Stanford entering the fourth. USC goalie Joel Dennerley made three saves in the fourth to anchor the USC defense while Jeremy Davie worked his way into a hat trick in the game with two big blasts to break a 6-6 tie put into place by fourth-frame goals from Nikola Vavic and Kostas Genidounias. Genidounias' second goal of the game was the equalizer for the Trojans in the fourth. Stanford was paced offensively by four goals from Forrest Watkins and received 10 tough saves from goalie Brian Pingree.
Stanford managed a four-goal swing in the second period of play to turn a 4-2 Trojan lead into a 6-4 Stanford advantage as USC's offense stalled out for a stretch on a string of saves by the Stanford goalie. That Cardinal lead would hold for halftime, putting USC in a comeback situation in order to get to the title match.
Joel Dennerley kept the Cardinal from making it a three-goal game with a nice save on a Stanford 6-on-5 opportunity to start the third frame, but Stanford's Brian Pingree made a stop on USC's next attack to put the ball back in Cardinal hands. After a silent rest of the frame, USC's Nikola Vavic broke the drought with a blast that cut the deficit to one. Kostas Genidounias then busted loose with a 6-on-5 equalizer for the Trojans, locking it 6-6 with five minutes to go in regulation.
Finally, USC got a leg up when Jeremy Davie plugged in a score out of set to take the Trojans to a 7-6 lead with 4:11 on the clock. Dennerley would put a stop to a Stanford 6-on-5 next, and squelch another Cardinal shot on the ensuing possession after the rebound wound up in Stanford hands. Dennerley's saves sent USC on the attack with 1:28 remaining. More Aussie heroics would follow from the Trojans, as Davie ripped in another goal for an 8-6 USC lead, and Dennerley slammed away another Stanford strike with 32 ticks to go. The lead would hold, and the Trojans locked in on a comeback win to propel into tomorrow's (Nov. 27) 3 p.m. title match against No. 3 seeded host UCLA.
2011 MPSF Tournament (Westwood, Calif.)
SAVES: Joel Dennerley (USC) 6, Brian Pingree (STAN) 10.