Tough Quarterfinal Losses Leave Trojans Out of Medal Contention
Aug. 8, 2012
Medal hopes were washed away today for three Trojans in the Olympic men's water polo competition. USC grads Shea Buckner and Joel Dennerley were both capped up for Team USA and Australia, respectively, today (Aug. 8) in quarterfinal action. Both teams had to contend with tough group winners for the right to move into the semifinals. The losses put both teams in consolation semifinals to vie for fifth- through eighth-place positions in the 2012 Olympic competition in London.
With USC grad Joel Dennerley turning away the Serbian attack to the tune of nine total saves, the Aussies surprised the Serbs -- winners of Group A -- with a forceful showing in the quarterfinals. Australia built up a 7-4 lead on Serbia by halftime, but from there the Aussie offense faltered while Serbia settled in. The Serbs would pass up the Aussies in the second half to win it 11-8. The loss puts Australia in the Aug. 10 consolation semifinals next, to fight for a chance at a fifth-place finish in London. Dennerley is averaging around 8.0 saves per game in his first Olympic Games, and has shared time in two games with backup goalie and incoming Trojan James Clark.
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.
Team USA, whose roster includes another Trojan in USC grad Shea Buckner, also was up against a group winner in undefeated Croatia for today's quarterfinal. The Croatians took a 5-0 lead on the U.S. squad in the first half and kept the Americans bay the rest of the way for an 8-2 decision that puts the USA in the consolation semifinals.
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