Undefeated USC Will Fight For Fifth Straight National Championship|
Dec. 1, 2012
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- USC's Nikola Vavic set a new record for goals scored in a season by a Trojan with his hat trick today, but it was sophomore Kostas Genidounias who punched in the bigger numbers with a five-goal game in USC's 18-7 win over Air Force in today's NCAA semifinal at McDonald's Swim Stadium, which is soon to become the Uytengsu Aquatics Center when construction begins this month. But first, the USC men's water polo team is aiming to make a little more history in its home pool. With today's win, the Trojans advance to tomorrow's national championship game at 3:12 p.m. There, the USC squad is looking to extend its undefeated 2012 record one game farther in order to capture an unprecedented fifth consecutive men's water polo national championship. The 28-0 Trojans will square off against crosstown rival UCLA in the title match for the third time in the past four seasons.
To get into position for a push to perfection, the top-seeded Trojans were up against No. 4 seed Air Force in the semifinals. USC had a rocky start out of the gates with some uncharacteristic sloppy play as the Falcons equalized early and took a 2-1 lead in the first four minutes. The deficit seemed to wake up the Trojans, who scored four straight goals to move ahead 5-2 on a score from Jack Plaga to open the second frame. Air Force snapped it with a sweep next, but USC would strike off on another rallying run with six straight goals across halftime and into the third in building an 11-3 advantage. Genidounias' third of the day came during that run, as did a pair of blasts from Vavic.
USC goalies James Clark and Ely Bonilla shared time in the cage, with Clark handling the first half and Bonilla locking in for the second. By the final whistle, Genidounias had wrapped up his five goals to bump his season tally up to 67 -- sixth most in a single season in program history. Meanwhile, Vavic dumped in a hat trick to set a new USC record with 82 goals now this year. Also getting in on the high-scoring action for the Trojans was sophomore Marc Vonderweidt, who registered his first career hat trick to help power up USC into tomorrow's NCAA title match. In all, nine different USC scorers got to the back of the net today for the Trojan cause.
USC now turns to focus in on a fifth straight national championship. Standing in the Trojans' way is UCLA (28-4), which USC beat 7-6 to win the 2009 NCAA title and then beat again 7-4 last year to make history as the first men's water polo team ever to win four straight crowns. The Trojans and the Bruins have clashed twice already this season, with USC keeping its undefeated record intact with a 7-6 win and a 10-9 win over UCLA this year. The 2012 championship match is set for 3:12 p.m. on Sunday (Dec. 2) at USC's home pool, McDonald's Swim Stadium for the last event at the site before construction of the Uytengsu Aquatics Center begins as the new home of the Trojans.
2012 National Collegiate Men's Water Polo Tournament
Semifinal 1 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012