Sept. 17, 2014
USC Water Polo Release
The No. 3 USC men's water polo team shoulders its undefeated 8-0 record as it packs up for competition at this year's NorCal Tournament -- tagged as the Kap7 NorCal Classic -- in Stockton. The 2013 NCAA runner-up Pacific will play host to the 16-team tourney, which runs Sept. 20-21. USC is grouped with No. 19 Air Force, No. 12 LMU and No. 7 UC Santa Barbara to start things off at Pacific's Chris Kjeldsen Pool, opening up against Air Force at 10:40 a.m. on Saturday (Sept. 20). A win there would put the Trojans up against the winner of LMU-UC Santa Barbara at 5:20 p.m. that afternoon. A victorious Saturday would send USC into a noon semifinal matchup on Sunday (Sept. 21) at Chris Kjeldsen Pool. The tournament championship match is set for 5:20 p.m. that evening, preceded by the third-place game at 4 p.m.
KAP7 NORCAL CLASSIC CENTRAL
THE LAST MEETING
September 14, 2014
No. 3 USC Blazes To Two More Big Wins
The No. 3 USC men's water polo team was hot-handed once again as the Trojans completed day two of the Inland Empire Classic with two more strong wins. Undefeated on the year, USC bulked up its overall record to 8-0 thanks to today's 20-6 win over Concordia and a 25-7 victory over No. 18 Air Force in Redlands, Calif.
THE LAST MEETING
|Long Beach City College||6
September 26, 2009
McDonald's Swim Stadium
The six-time defending NCAA champion Trojans entered 2014 ranked No. 2 in the nation in the preseason poll. In spite of a dominating 4-0 start, USC moved to No. 3 in last week's national poll and remains there this week.
NORCAL TOURNEY NOTES
The NorCal Tournament -- this year dubbed the Kap7 NorCal Classic -- has traditionally offered one of the best early looks at the nation's top teams. This year proves to be more of the same. Including tournament host Pacific, all nine Mountain Pacific Sports Federation teams will be included, along with competitive teams from around the country. Air Force is the only non-California-based team in the mix, joined by Pomona-Pitzer, UC Davis, Redlands, Santa Clara, LMU and UC San Diego to round out the 16-team field. All told,13 of the top 14 ranked teams in the nation will be in the mix, with 14 total teams ranked in the top-20. Last year, USC notched a win over Diablo Valley out of the gates and then took out Pepperdine 9-4 to advance to the semifinals. There, the Trojans went toe-to-toe with Stanford, fighting out of a two-goal hole and forcing overtime, where USC moved ahead and held on for an 8-7 win over the Cardinal to take a spot in the final. Up against UCLA in the championship, the Trojans fought through another tight battle. No team led by more than a single goal, but the Bruins got the late lead and held on for a 9-8 win that claimed last year's title for UCLA .
USC collected four more dominating victories last weekend in a hot trip to Redlands for action at the Inland Empire Classic. The Trojans would outscore their opponents 90-19, taking out Chapman (21-6), Occidental (24-0), Concordia (20-6) and No. 18 Air Force (25-7). Freshmen Matteo Morelli and Grant Stein finished as USC's top scorers on the trip, tallying 14 and 13 goals, respectively. Morelli, Stein and Max Hurst-Mendoza each set new career highs for themselves during the weekend, as each recorded a five-goal game apiece over the weekend. In the cage, McQuin Baron put forth two more double-digit save outings in registering 12 saves vs. Chapman and 11 against Air Force.
BY THE NUMBERS
Just eight games into 2014, the Trojans are already putting up some big numbers. Led by Kostas Genidounias with 25 goals, freshmen Matteo Morelli and Grant Stein with 21 and 20, respectively, there are a grand total of nine Trojans already with at least 10 goals apiece. Six of them are freshmen and three are seniors, exhibiting some dangerous balance for USC. To date, USC has outscored opponents 170-37 -- more than quadruple its foes' scoring count to date. Defensively, USC is allowing just 4.63 goals per game holding opponents scoreless in the third quarter in five of its eight games.
KOSTAS ON THE CLIMB
Three-time All-American senior Kostas Genidounias has been on the rise in the USC scoring ranks throughout his time at Troy. He's the Trojans' top scorer this season with 25 goals to date, lifting Genidounias to currently rank No. 3 all-time in career scoring with 204 total goals. The No. 2 mark is held by Juraj Zatovic at 220, while Nikola Vavic stands at No. 1 with 254 career goals. That puts Genidounias 16 goals from No. 2 all-time and 50 from taking over the top spot. Stay tuned!
USC's NCAA championship streak began while this incoming freshman class was still in middle school. So although the 2014 Trojan newcomers haven't experienced winning a national championship firsthand -- yet -- they certainly are familiar with the culture of winning that has been built at Troy. Every other member of the USC roster has at least one national championship ring in his trophy case. The senior class of four Trojans, meanwhile, have played in a combined eight NCAA Tournaments in the past three seasons. Three of those seniors -- Rex Butler, Kostas Genidounias and Marc Vonderweidt -- have experience from USC's 2012 and 2013 title matches. That trio, along with Nick Bell, Mac Carden and Max Hurst-Mendoza all combined forces for USC in last season's championship victory. To be sure, USC's championship savvy is still very much in effect.
BUILT TO LAST
Everybody is calling it a "rebuilding year." Everybody, that is, except USC head coach Jovan Vavic. His group of 22 newcomers for 2014 already looks to be built to last. Vavic already has tabbed eight or nine of those freshmen for immediate action. Team USA goalie McQuin Baron has the starting nod in the cage, but he's not the only newcomer with experience in international waters. Four players from four different countries have arrived from overseas to join the Trojans this year. Australian National Teamer Lachlan Edwards is poised to post up for the Trojans, following in the footsteps of another Aussie two-meter man -- All-American Jeremy Davie, who played four years and won four titles as a Trojan. Mihajlo Milicevic comes to Troy from Serbia; Lazar Pasuljevic hails from Montenegro; and Matteo Morelli joins the Trojans from Italy. Vavic is eager to involve each of them in his 2014 game plan. Adding to the depth charge in the new class are a set of solid stars from more local waters. In addition to goalies Baron and Ben Goncharenko, California has produced some mighty field players to bolster the Trojan cause. Bryce Hoerman, Grant Stein and James Walters headline that crew, which offers up some impressive flexibility and skill in which Vavic already has early confidence.
LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN?
USC has played in the NCAA championship game 10 times in the past 11 years. Eight national titles have come during that span. But it isn't just a place in another final that USC is aiming for. No, for 2014 the Trojans once again have just one mission. USC has won six consecutive titles, and making it seven in a row would also bring the men's program its 10th national championship.
Seniors Kostas Genidounias and Rex Butler represent a potent one-two punch for the Trojans. The righty-lefty duo give USC dangerous scoring options from both sides of the pool, and they've been effective in their Trojan careers to date. Genidounias whipped in 80 goals (third most in program history) for USC last season as a junior, giving him a career count of 179 to rank him No. 4 all-time entering 2014. Butler scored 40 goals last year, giving him 69 overall as he pursues a spot in the 100-goal club by the close of his Trojan career. That pair stands out as USC's top returning scorers, but Nick Bell, Mac Carden and Marc Vonderweidt have also proven to pack some scoring punch of their own. All three scored 18 goals apiece last season.
The only position dominated wholly by freshmen is in the cage-- previously occupied by Olympians Joel Dennerley and James Clark for the past six seasons. And yet Vavic is as confident in his goalies as anywhere else. McQuin Baron looms large as the starter, bringing in his 6-foot-9-inch frame fresh from a summer of experience with the U.S National Team. The Trojans could well tag-team the cage, too, as the goalie corps is solid down the line. Ben Goncharenko and Steven Michaud are both standout goalies in their own right and stand to see time in the cage as well.
FIGHTING ON FOR JON
On Jan. 8, 2014, the Trojan Family lost a special member in the passing of USC freshman Jon Walters. At 19 years old, Walters was an NCAA Champion, beloved teammate and a Trojan warrior for the USC men's water polo team. His loss has touched the Trojan Family and the water polo world deeply, and the USC water polo program will be playing with Jon in their hearts this season and beyond. As a first-year freshman 2-meter man, Jon Walters was a key contributor on USC's 2013 NCAA championship men's water polo team that won a sixth consecutive NCAA title in December. He scored 17 goals on the year, including two in the NCAA semifinal game and another two in the MPSF championship game, despite missing the middle part of the season with an elbow injury. A native of Newport Beach, he attended Mater Dei High School, where he was an All-American and the 2012 CIF Player of the Year. Jon's younger brother James is a freshman on this 2014 USC team.
USC became the first collegiate water polo team ever to win six consecutive national championships when the Trojans finished off their 2013 campaign with five straight wins, claiming the MPSF Championship before making a victorious run to win the 2013 NCAA Championship. An overtime win over Pacific in the title match notched a 28-4 overall record for the Trojans while grabbing the program's ninth national crown. Senior Nikola Vavic finished his career as USC's all-time leading scorer, was named National Player of the Year and was again a finalist for the Cutino Award. Kostas Genidounias, too, was named a Cutino Award finalist, and was one of six All-Americans from the 2013 season along with Vavic, James Clark, Jeremy Davie, Mace Rapsey and Connor Virjee. In all, the Trojan offense -- charged by 21 different scorers -- averaged 15.3 goals per game, while the defense allowed 6.7 goals against per game. USC outscored opponents 490-213 in 2013, marking the most goals scored in a year by the Trojans since at least 1983.