Men's Water Polo
    Top-ranked Trojans Set Up For Home Opener
    Peter Kurzeka passed the century mark in scoring last week.
    Peter Kurzeka passed the century mark in scoring last week.

    Sept. 8, 2011

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    THIS WEEK
    The top-ranked USC men's water polo team totes a 1-0 start to the year as the Trojans set up for their first clash of the year in their home pool at McDonald's Swim Stadium. No. 1 USC hosts Cal Baptist for the 2011 home opener, as the Trojans look to gather up some early momentum on their campaign toward defense of three consecutive national championships. USC and the No. 18 Lancers will square off at 12 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 10). Following that matchup, Trojans past and present will hit the pool for the annual Alumni Game.

    RANKINGS
    USC opens 2011 as the No. 1 team in the land -- deference to the Trojans' three straight NCAA titles and status as reigning MPSF Tournament champs. Cal Baptist ranks No. 18 in this week's national poll.

    SCOUTING CAL BAPTIST
    The No. 18 Lancers are 3-0 to start the year after beating Brown 10-6, Harvard 13-9 and MIT 16-4 last week at the MIT Tournament. Daniel Gleason is CBU's top scorer with eight goals to date, and goalie Austen Ramer has recorded 20 saves so far on the defensive end. USC is 6-0 all-time against Cal Baptist, last claiming an 11-7 win over the Lancers in 2010 at the Lancer Invitational.

    IN THE BOOKS
    USC seniors Joel Dennerley and Peter Kurzeka have inked their names on the USC career charts with impressive numbers as they touch in on their final seasons at Troy. Dennerley sits at No. 2 all-time in career saves with 645 to date, closing in fast on the top spot held by Kevin Stringer with 675. Kurzeka, meanwhile, is climbing up the career goals ladder. His 100th career goal was the winner in USC's 2010 NCAA Championship game, and he now holds 104 to rank No. 24 all-time.

    SENIOR CORE AIMS FOR FOUR
    Trojan seniors Matt Burton, Joel Dennerley and Peter Kurzeka were freshmen when USC won the 2009 NCAA championship. As sophomores, they again held the trophy high at the end of that season. Last year, as juniors, they led a USC squad picked to finish fourth in the conference to the top yet again. Now, with the stiff breeze of three straight national championships pushing them into their senior season at Troy, the All-American trio aims to go out on top once again and, in doing so, become the first collegiate men's water polo team ever to win four consecutive national championships.

    YOUNG GUNS RETURN
    Offensively, USC's top 10 scorers from 2010 are back in the water. That group accounted for 81 percent of USC's goal count last season. USC's top scorer as a freshman and an All-American as well, Nikola Vavic returns. More young power is generated from All-American Jeremy Davie, and fellow sophomores Mace Rapsey and Connor Virjee, who helped claim that third straight title in their first seasons of action with the Trojans, along with Tobias Preuss and Stephen Siri. More veteran talent comes in the form of Brian Boswell and Michael Rosenthal, members of USC's last two NCAA championship rosters. New guns are also in line to make a further impact as the Trojan depth charge expands for 2011.

    2010 RECAP
    The 2010 Trojans were picked fourth in both the 2010 MPSF and national preseason polls before thundering through the season with a 26-2 overall record to add the 2010 NCAA crown to its 2008 and 2009 trophies. USC dropped two losses during the regular season, but went on a roll to close out the year by winning the MPSF Tournament title and then finishing off a 12-10 overtime win over host Cal in the NCAA Championship game. It was USC's 25th NCAA appearance and sixth national championship, and gave the Trojans their fourth title in the past six seasons. Jovan Vavic was named the National Coach of the Year, making him the only men's water polo coach to earn three consecutive selections. Five Trojans were named All-Americans at year's end as well. MPSF Player of the Year Joel Dennerley and Peter Kurzeka earned First Team honors, with Matt Burton, Nikola Vavic and Jeremy Davie also named All-Americans. Vavic was the team's top scorer with 49 goals, leading a set of 21 scorers on the year. As a team, USC was the best in the MPSF, averaging 12.7 goals per game offensively and allowing 6.1 goals per game defensively. USC outscored its opponents 382-183 in 2010.