Trojans Win Four In A Row!
Dec. 4, 2011
BERKELEY, CALIF. - There was no stopping the USC men's water polo team in its quest to make history. Up against crosstown rival UCLA in a neutral pool in Berkeley, the Trojans shrugged off an early Bruin goal and rattled off five straight scores to remove any doubt as to which team belonged in the NCAA history books. With a commanding 7-4 win over UCLA today, top-seeded USC finished off its fourth consecutive national championship, anchored by two Trojans who will now be proud owners of four national championship rings - seniors Joel Dennerley and Peter Kurzeka. USC head coach Jovan Vavic now holds 10 total national championships - seven with the Trojan men and three with the USC women - in helping USC to its 116th overall team national championship.
Playing in its seventh straight title match, the Trojans have won five championships in that span. Even more impressive, USC becomes the first team ever to win four straight national championships. As a whole, the Trojans now have seven men's titles.
In tonight's historic conquest over the Bruins, goalie Joel Dennerley hauled in 15 saves and landed himself the NCAA Tournament MVP selection, joined on the First Team by fellow senior Peter Kurzeka and sophomore Nikola Vavic. Sophomores Jeremy Davie and Mace Rapsey were named to the NCAA Tournament Second Team. Vavic and Davie both tallied goals in the final, along with five other goal scorers as USC spread the wealth among seven hands to bury the Bruins in USC's biggest NCAA championship win to date.
In today's title match between the Trojans and the Bruins, UCLA took the first advantage when awarded a 5-meter penalty shot. The Bruins converted, but that lead would not last long. On USC's next possession, Forest Monroe earned a power play, and Michael Rosenthal delivered the equalizer to lock it up. That would be as close as UCLA would get the rest of the way. Connor Virjee rocketed in a bar-in blast to take the lead with less than a second left in the first frame, and the USC rattled off the next three goals in the second period. Nikola Vavic earned and converted a USC 6-on-5 to make it 3-1, followed by a searing score from Stephen Siri on a nearside strike in another USC 6-on-5 opportunity. Peter Kurzeka would pick off a UCLA pass later in the frame, and after Brian Boswell set up the Trojans with another 6-on-5 to be finished off by Mace Rapsey, pulling USC ahead 5-1 during the first half.
UCLA managed to stop the bleeding with a 6-on-5 score before the end of the half, but USC's lead was too great. The second half lapsed into a scoreless stretch before USC jumped back ahead by four after moving the ball around the horn and finding Kostas Genidounias for a left-post slam to make it 6-2 Trojans. UCLA got one to go in the last minute of the frame to make it 6-3 entering the fourth, but Jeremy Davie swept in a score from set to open the final period. Up 7-3, USC was in the driver's seat for the rest of the stretch. UCLA punched one lone goal in from two-meter midway through the fourth, but with Dennerley reigning supreme in the cage to back up a stubborn Trojan defense, the championship was solidly in USC's hands.
USC finishes the 2011 year with a 24-3 overall record and a spot in the NCAA history books with four straight titles
2011 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Berkeley, Calif.)
SAVES: Joel Dennerley (USC) 15, Matt Rapacz (UCLA) 5.