Trojans Take Olympic Quarterfinal Spots|
Aug. 6, 2012
Medal hopes are alive and well for the Trojan contingent in the Olympic men's water polo draw. As group play came to a close today (Aug. 6) in London, USC's first-time Olympians on the Australian and U.S. teams are launching through in pursuit of a medal path in holding strong for quarterfinal spots as they advance out of their respective groups. USC grad Joel Dennerley was a lock in the cage for the Aussies in a must-win matchup with Greece. Nine saves from Dennerley helped Australia pass up Greece in the standings to secure a quarterfinal bid. Quarterfinal action is set for August 8.
Dennerley and the Australians were up against the wall in today's group finale, needing a win over Greece to boost themselves into the all-important fourth-place position in the competitive Group A. Dennerley held the Greeks to just three goals in the second half as Australia cruised to a 13-8 win. Dennerley's backup in goal, incoming Trojan James Clark, did not appear in this one, as Dennerley finished up with nine saves in the win. Australia is now lineup up against Serbia in the quarterfinals for the right to move within reach of an Olympic medal.
A four-time national champion and the recipient of the 2011-12 Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation's top collegiate player in his senior season at USC, goalie Joel Dennerley is playing in his first Olympic Games. While anchoring USC's run to a historic four straight NCAA titles, Dennerley emerged as the Trojans' all-time leader in career saves. He is the first-ever goalie to win the Cutino Award on the men's side, and also claimed back-to-back honors as the MPSF Player of the Year -- also a first for a goalie. For his native Australia, Dennerley was called up to compete in the 2010 FINA World Cup and 2011 FINA World Championships and was recently named Australia Water Polo Inc.'s Male Player of the Year.
Later in the day, USC grad Shea Buckner and Team USA wrapped up Group B against a tough Hungary squad, winners of the past three Olympic gold medals. Both teams entered the match already assured a place in the quarterfinals by virtue of three wins tallied in group play. Hungary had the upper hand in this one with an 11-6 decision, leaving the United States in the fourth-place position in the group standings. That puts Buckner and the United State in a quarterfinal clash against Croatia on Aug. 8.
A 2008 and 2009 NCAA Champion and a three-time All-American at USC, Shea Buckner is making his Olympic debut this year in London. His call-up to Team USA has taken him most recently to international appearances at the 2011 and 2012 FINA World League Super Finals as he now prepares to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. Buckner played three seasons at USC, helping anchor the Trojans' undefeated finish in 2008, which kick-started USC's historic run to four consecutive national championships.
Follow all the Trojan Olympians in their quests for Olympic gold at www.usctrojans.com/london2012