Men's Water Polo
    Top-Ranked Trojans Set Up For Home Opener
    Trojans past and present unite on Saturday for USC's Alumni Game.
    Trojans past and present unite on Saturday for USC's Alumni Game.

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    THIS WEEK
    The top-ranked Trojans hit home waters this weekend for the four-time defending national champs' first battle of the year at McDonald's Swim Stadium. USC's home pool will be the site of 2012's two big postseason tournaments, as the Trojans are set to host both the MPSF Tournament and the NCAA Championships later in the year. But first, the 3-0 Trojans are looking to bulk up their 16-game win streak at home with a clash against No. 17 Cal Baptist (0-2). USC will face the Lancers at 10 a.m. on Saturday (Sept. 8) at McDonald's Swim Stadium. Following that, USC hosts its Alumni Game, welcoming back former Trojans for an 11:45 a.m. game.

    The Last Meeting
    Cal Baptist3
    USC14
    September 10, 2011
    McDonald's Swim Stadium
    Kurzeka Sticks Six In 14-3 USC Win
    The top-ranked USC men's water polo punched up a 14-3 win over No. 18 Cal Baptist on Saturday in the Trojans' home opener with a wave of scoring coming from Peter Kurzeka. The Trojan senior plugged in six goals to lead the charge on USC's second win of the year, recording the most goals scored by a Trojan in a single game since 2001.

    RANKINGS
    USC opened 2012 as the No. 1 team in the land -- deference to the Trojans' historic four straight NCAA titles -- and remains there as teams enter the second week of 2012 competition. Cal Baptist is ranked No. 17 this week.

    SCOUTING CAL BAPTIST
    The No. 17 Lancers start 2012 with an 0-2 record after taking two losses at the UCLA Invitational last week. Cal Baptist fell 13-6 to UC Santa Barbara and lost 15-7 to UCLA. Scott Gleason was the Lancers' top scorer with four goals in the two games, and goalie Austen Ramer had 17 saves. USC is 7-0 all-time against Cal Baptist, with the latest win coming in a 14-3 victory last year at McDonald's Swim Stadium.

    LAST WEEK
    USC's opening weekend was a busy one for the Trojans, who posted a 24-3 win over LaVerne and a 20-3 victory over Pomona-Pitzer on day one at the UCLA Invitational. Sixteen different Trojans scored in the season opener to set the highwater mark for the USC offense. On day two, USC pinned up a 21-4 win over Chapman to round out a 3-0 start to 2012 for the four-time defending national champions. Junior Nikola Vavic emerged as USC's top scorer through the first three games with 10 goals scored out in Westwood. Kostas Genidounias was next with six, followed by Stephen Siri's five goals. Defensively, the Trojans allowed just 10 total goals as goalies Ely Bonilla and Aleck Ryner shared time in the cage.

    SPREAD OFFENSE
    Just three games deep into 2012, 19 different Trojans have already scored goals -- just two away from last year's grand total of 21 scorers. Led by 10 from Nikola Vavic and six from Kostas Genidounias to date, USC has already flexed some serious scoring muscle in averaging 21.7 goals per game out of the gates. On opening weekend for the Trojans, USC had four players score their first career goals: Mac Carden, Eugene Chong, Russell Renteria and Chase Watson. So far, USC is outscoring opponents 65-10, thanks to a Trojan defense averaging just 3.3 goals-against per game.

    STRIVE FOR FIVE
    Already in the history books as members of the first program to win four straight national championships, USC still boasts a group of Trojans who are looking for their fifth NCAA championship rings. Redshirt seniors Matt Burton, Michael Rosenthal and Andrew Reego have been at USC for the past four championship runs. And although their fellow four-peater Brian Boswell has been sidelined by medical issues for 2012, the Trojan veterans are aiming to once again roll to victory and grab an unprecedented fifth championship ring. Reego and Rosenthal were redshirts in 2008, when Burton competed as a true freshman. Burton was injured early in 2011, sidelined for the rest of the year but returning now as a captain again for the 2012 Trojans. Those three fifth-year players are part of a talented senior class that is rounded out by Tobias Preuss, who joined the Trojan roster as a sophomore in 2010.

    100 AND COUNTING...
    USC junior Nikola Vavic hit the 100-goal mark in the first weekend of action, putting him on pace to blaze a trail toward the top of the USC career scoring list. With 100 goals to date in the early goings of his junior season, Vavic is already halfway to making a strong challenge for all-time leader Juraj Zatovic's top spot. Zatovic tallied 220 in his four seasons at Troy, which included two national championships (2003 & 2005). Vavic already has two NCAA titles in the books as he aims to lead the charge for the Trojans for 2012 and beyond.

    AUSTRALIAN TAKEOVER
    The Trojan roster again boast three standout players from Down Under. With the graduation of USC's all-time career saves leader Joel Dennerley, the Trojans have another Aussie goalie in newcomer James Clark-- also a 2012 Olympian alongside Dennerley. Returning Australian All-Americans Jeremy Davie and Mace Rapsey are also back in the water with plenty of championship experience for the Trojans, having been key members of the last two runs to NCAA glory.

    HOME WATERS
    The Trojans have the chance to put on a true championship show for its USC fan base this year, as both the 2012 MPSF Tournament and the 2012 NCAA Championships will be held on the USC campus. McDonald's Swim Stadium -- which is due to begin transformation into the Uytengsu Aquatics Center as soon as the national championship trophy is hoisted in the air -- will be the site of both postseason tournaments in 2012.

    2011 RECAP
    The 2011 Trojans never slipped farther than the No. 2 spot in the national rankings and wrapped up the year on top once again as USC made history as the first-ever men's water polo team to win four consecutive national championships. Behind a set of eight All-Americans, including National Player of the Year and Cutino Award winner Joel Dennerley, the Trojans finished 2011 with a 24-3 overall record after an 8-0 run through the MPSF regular season. In addition to Dennerley, senior Peter Kurzeka also finished up his Trojan career as a four-time NCAA champ and also with another set of All-American honors. Head coach Jovan Vavic was named National Coach of the Year, with six more Trojans on the All-America list: Jeremy Davie, Nikola Vavic, Kostas Genidounias, Tobias Preuss, Mace Rapsey and Michael Rosenthal. USC saw a 13-game win streak snapped in the MPSF Tournament final by UCLA, but the Trojans would exact revenge with a dominating 7-4 win over the Bruins in the national championship game. Kurzeka was USC's top scorer with 42 goals on the year, followed by Nikola Vavic with 41. In all, the Trojan offense -- charged by 21 different scorers -- averaged 11.6 goals per game, while the defense again led the nation with just 5.4 goals against per game. USC outscored opponents 314-146 in 2011. •