USC Advances To National Championship Match On Sunday|
Dec. 6, 2003
STANFORD, Calif. -- USC advanced to the championship game of the 2003 NCAA Water Polo Championship on Saturday night with a convincing 10-6 win over Navy in the first semifinal at Avery Stadium on the campus of Stanford University.
The Trojans will face the host Stanford Cardinal, which defeated Loyola Marymount 14-8 in the second semifinal, for the NCAA national championship on Sunday at 5 p.m. Pacific at Avery Stadium. The Naval Academy will square off with Loyola Marymount in the consolation game at 3 p.m. Pacific.
With the win, the Trojans improved to 23-3 and advance to their ninth NCAA water polo championship game. USC claimed its only water polo national title in 1998.
The Trojans, who entered the weekend as the No. 1 ranked team, jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after the first period. USC won the opening sprint and just 40 seconds into the match, Zatovic gave the Trojans a 1-0 lead, a lead that it wouldn't relinquish, taking advantage of a 6-on-5 with a shot past the out stretched hands of Navy goalie Patrick McCreary.
The Trojans continued to press the attack and scored 48 seconds later when Brett Reynolds skipped a shot past McCreary to give USC a 2-0 advantage. The Trojans struck again 3:39 minutes into the first period when Predrag Damjanov floated a shot from four meters out to take USC to a 3-0 lead.
Navy came out aggressive in the second period and were able to break through USC's defenses for its first goal of the game. With just 1:37 remaining in the second half, Jordan Gentry lofted a shot from two meters out over the outstretched hands of USC goalie Bozidar Damjanovic to pull the Midshipmen within two goals of the Trojans at 3-1.
With the score at 3-1 in favor of the Trojans, USC came out of the break aggressive, netting three scores in the third period. Zatovic added his second goal of the game, while Nick Andrejic added two scores in the period to give USC a 6-1 cushion.
"I think we made good adjustments on our power point offense," said USC coach Jovan Vavic. "In the first half we only scored on 1 out of 5, but in the second half we scored 5. That was the difference."
"In the third period, they dictated to us what we were allowed to do on offense," said Carl Salyer. "We tried to attack the goal but they did a great job of keeping our players from any really good drives or good openings."
In what was a tight, low scoring affair, both teams turned up the offense in the fourth period, with Navy tallying five goals, while USC added four to bring the final score to 10-6. Patrick Rollo added two goals for Navy in the fourth period, while Bill Miante, Alex Ratcliffe, and Michael Suriano each chipped in one for the Midshipmen.
Scoring Summary 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot Navy (25-7) 3 0 3 4 10 USC (23-3) 0 1 0 5 6
NAVY ASSISTANT COACH CARL SALYER, DECK COACH FOR THE MATCH Opening Statement ... "Our guys played really hard, we went out there and executed our game plan to the best of our ability. USC is a good team and they were able to keep us away from the ball. They were able to keep us out of the goal for a goal for a good portion of the game. Our guys kept working as hard as they could. They were smart and stuck to our game plan. I felt the difference in the game was that they were able to keep us from doing what we wanted to do. And they were able to capitalize, especially early in the game to get up on us so much."
On Falling Behind 3-0 To USC ... "It is very tough, but our team has done that several times this year, but not against the No. 1 team in the country. I am extremely proud, our guys never gave up, and they kept plugging away. We felt like we were still in it, especially at half time when it was 3-1. That goal was a big goal for us, to get us on the board. I knew coming in to the third period Jovan (USC Coach) would be getting his team geared up. They dictated to us what we were allowed to do on offense. We tried to attack the goal but they did a great job of keeping our players from any really good drives or good openings. When we did, they crashed on us hard. They played a real, hard, physical game. That was a good team."
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA HEAD COACH Jovan Vavic Opening Statement ... "Navy was absolutely awesome. They had a great game. And I think that they executed their defense very well for a couple of quarters. They played very well with their 5 on 6 defense in the first two quarters. We are a little bit deeper of a team, and we have a little more offense, so we were able to overcome their defense in the third quarter. I really think they played excellent."
On The Keys To Winning The Game ... "I think we made good adjustments on our power point offense. In the first half we only scored on 1 out of 5, but in the second half we scored 5. That was the difference."
On Giving Up Goals Late ... "What happened was we played everybody. So no starters were in for the entire fourth quarter. That's really the difference, not to take away from Navy."
On Expectations For Tomorrow ... "We need to find out who we are going to play first. Whoever it is I think it is going to be a great game. Exciting and entertaining. We certainly hope to go out on top, that is what we came here for."
On Facing Stanford, After Going 3-0 Against Them This Season ... "I'd much rather be in this position than having lost 3 games to them. You can't really worry about the past."