No. 4 USC Fights Back For Trip To MPSF Semis
Nov. 29, 2013
STOCKTON, CALIF. -- The No. 4 USC men's water polo team got down to business in the second half of its MPSF Championship first-round matchup against California, dominating the Bears on both ends to ring up a 12-9 comeback victory in Stockton, Calif. The victory punched USC's ticket to the MPSF semifinals tomorrow against top-seeded host Pacific at 1:30 p.m. PT tomorrow (Nov. 30). The Trojans improve to 24-4 overall with their sixth straight win over California.
The Trojans stumbled out of the gates in their first-round matchup, falling in a 3-0 hole to the Golden Bears before Nikola Vavic -- USC's all-time leading scorer -- broke the silence with a blast that made it a 3-1 Cal lead in the first frame. USC equalized at 3-3 on scores from Ivan Kustic and Jon Walters, but the Bears would move ahead by two on a 5-meter penalty shot midway through the second. By halftime, Cal still had a two-goal margin despite USC scores from Vavic and Mace Rapsey, leaving USC behind 7-5 at the break.
The second half saw the Trojans take control. Behind a powerful stand in the cage from USC goalie James Clark, USC allowed only two Cal goals the rest of the way. Three straight USC scores carried the Trojans into an 8-7 lead in the third, and although Cal equalized at 8-8, Kostas Genidounias delivered his second in an eventual hat trick to give USC a 9-8 advantage entering the final period of play. Mace Rapsey gave USC its largest lead f the game with a 10-8 edge on a score to open the fourth, and USC had an answer for a Cal goal next. Genidounias plugged in his third and Rex Butler got on the board for the Trojans to bury Cal in a 12-9 hole with less than two minutes to go. The Trojans reigned supreme the rest of the way and secured their advancement to the semis on a 12-9 final win.
Tomorrow (Nov. 30), the Trojans face a key rubber match with top-seeded Pacific. USC won the first matchup against the Tigers, but Pacific claimed the MPSF clash to hold it at a 1-1 season mark between the two. On Saturday, USC will face the MPSF tournament host at 1:30 p.m. at the Tigers' home pool.
2013 MPSF CHAMPIONSHIPS (Stockton, Calif.)
SAVES: James Clark (USC) 12, Michael Boggan (CAL) 10.