Men's Water Polo
    No. 1 USC Looks For Fourth Straight NorCal Tourney Title
    The Trojans join forces for a run at another NorCal Tournament title this weekend.
    The Trojans join forces for a run at another NorCal Tournament title this weekend.

    Sept. 18, 2013

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    THIS WEEK
    The top-ranked USC men's water polo team is in the hunt for a fourth consecutive NorCal Tournament title this weekend. Winners of the past three NorCal crowns, the Trojans (8-0) carry a 39-game winning streak into this year's tourney, hosted by California at pools in Berkeley and Concord. USC is grouped with No. 10 Pepperdine, No. 7 UC Irvine and Diablo Valley College, opening up action against DVC at 8 a.m. on Saturday (Sept. 21). A win would put the Trojans in a 3:25 p.m. game to play for the right to move into the Sunday morning semifinals. USC will play its Saturday games at Diablo Valley, a junior college in Concord. Two wins there would move the Trojans over to Berkeley on Sunday (Sept. 22) for a 10:50 a.m. semifinal game. The NorCal Tournament title match is set for 6:15 p.m. on Sunday, preceded by a 4:50 p.m. third-place game.

    THE LAST MEETING
    Long Beach City College6
    USC15
    September 26, 2009
    McDonald's Swim Stadium
    FOLLOW USC WATER POLO ON TWITTER @USCWaterPolo

    RANKINGS
    USC has been ranked No. 1 in the nation since Nov. 9, 2011. The Trojans opened 2013 right where they left off, ranked atop the preseason poll for the third straight season. USC remains at No. 1 this week. The other teams in the NorCal Tournament stand in the rankings behind USC as No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Pacific, No. 4 Cal, No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 UC Santa Barbara, No. 7 UC Irvine, No. 8 LMU, No. 9 Long Beach State, No. 10 Pepperdine, No. 11 UC San Diego, No. 12 UC Davis, No. 15 Santa Clara, No. 16 Concordia and No. 20 Air Force.

    NORCAL TOURNEY NOTES
    The NorCal Tournament 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 California, 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 UC Davis, Concordia, Santa Clara, LMU, UC San Diego and junior college addition Diablo Valley to round out the 16-team field. All told, the top 12 ranked teams in the nation will be in the mix, with 15 total teams ranked in the top-20. Last year, USC tore its way to a third straight NorCal crown, opening with a 22-10 win over Pomona-Pitzer before topping Pepperdine 9-5 to earn a spot in the semifinals. There, the Trojans beat Stanford 10-9 in overtime. That put USC up against UCLA in the title match for the third straight year, and the Trojans rolled to a 7-6 win to claim the NorCal championship.

    LAST WEEK
    USC stayed in high gear last week with another run through local competition in action at the Inland Empire Classic. After a 17-5 win over No. 10 UC San Diego -- USC's first top-10 opponent of the year -- the Trojans topped Pomona-Pitzer 24-6, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 19-2 and Whittier 21-4 over the weekend. Three Trojans served up hat tricks in the first game of the weekend, with Kostas Genidounias, Connor Virjee and Mace Raspey delivering three apiece to pace USC to a 17-5 victory over the Tritons. In game two of that day, Nikola Vavic paced the Trojans with five goals -- more than enough to launch the senior into the No. 2 all-time scoring spot at USC --in a win over the Sagehens that saw 13 different Trojans score. By the close of the weekend, Vavic's career scoring mark would grow to 203 thanks to a 16-goal effort out at the Inland Empire Classic. He's now 18 goals away from taking over as USC's all-time leader. Vavic plugged in another nine goals on the second day of action, scoring six vs. the Stags while Genidounias and Rex Butler rang up hat tricks. In the final game of the weekend, Genidounias plugged in four more to finish his weekend with 11 goals. Vavic, Butler and Virjee hit three apiece again in that one. James Clark went the distance in goal in the first games of each day, hauling in a total of 16 saves with six goals allowed. Paul Mitre manned the cage vs. the Sagehens with seven saves, and Aleck Ryner brought home the final win of the weekend with a six-save outing. In all, USC amassed 81 goals over the weekend while allowing 16. Also during the weekend, Peter Simon scored his first career goals as a Trojan with two vs. Whittier.

    WORKING ON A SIX-PACK
    USC has played in the NCAA championship game nine times in the past decade. Seven national titles have come during that span. But it isn't just a place in the final that USC is aiming for. No, for 2013 the Trojans have only one mission. USC has won five consecutive titles, and the Trojans can make more history in extending that streak to six this season. No collegiate water polo team has won more than five crowns in a row. USC matched Cal's then-record three-in-a-row by beating the Bears in their home pool in 2010. In 2011, the Trojans etched their place in history with a fourth straight in beating UCLA. And in 2012 USC defended its own pool and beat the Bruins in the final again to stretch that streak to five. Now, the Trojans are looking to pick up a sixth. Stay tuned!

    CULTURE CLUB
    USC's NCAA championship streak began before this incoming freshman class started high school. So although the 2013 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 NCAA championship ring in his trophy case. The senior class of six Trojans, meanwhile, have accumulated 16 rings among them. Five of those seniors -- Jeremy Davie, Zach Lucas, Mace Rapsey, Nikola Vavic and Connor Virjee -- along with redshirt juniors Rex Butler and Max Hurst-Mendoza were true freshmen in 2010 when USC grabbed its third straight title. Senior goalie James Clark, meanwhile, has never experienced a loss as a Trojan. He began his USC career in the cage last season, when the Trojans rolled to a perfect 29-0 record

    TOP GUNS
    Senior Nikola Vavic and junior Kostas Genidounias combined for a whopping 151 goals last season. Vavic set the USC record for single-season scoring with 83 goals in 2012, while Genidounias hit the No. 5 all-time mark with 68 goals. In all, four of USC's top five scorers from 2012 are back. Mace Rapsey and Jeremy Davie provided 30 and 29 goals, respectively, last year. Zach Lucas, Rex Butler, Connor Virjee and Marc Vonderweidt each delivered at least 10 goals in 2012.

    CAREER COUNTER
    Nikola Vavic entered 2013 in the books ranked No. 4 all-time in USC scoring history. After two weekends of work, Vavic has taken over the No. 2 spot, now with 203 career goals. That puts the senior 18 goals away from taking over the No. 1 spot, occupied by Juraj Zatovic, who scored 220 goals in his four seasons at Troy. Also having officially made their marks in the USC charts are senior Jeremy Davie and junior Kostas Genidounias, who broke through the 100-goal threshold on the first weekend of action. Genidounias is now up to No. 21 all-time with 119 goals, and Davie ranks No. 27 with 108 to date. Senior Mace Rapsey is on pace to crack the century mark as well. He now holds 85 career goals.

    BY THE NUMBERS
    Eight games into 2013, the Trojans are putting up some big numbers. Led by Nikola Vavic with 30 goals, Kostas Genidounias with 20, Connor Virjee with 18 and Rex Butler with 14, USC has outscored opponents 171-34 to date. Defensively, USC is allowing just 4.25 goals per game and has held opponents scoreless in eight periods so far.

    AUSTRALIAN TAKEOVER
    The Trojan roster again boasts three standout players from Down Under. Goalie James Clark was a 2012 Olympian alongside former Trojan goalie Joel Dennerley. Clark earned All-American status in 2012, while his fellow Aussies Jeremy Davie and Mace Rapsey earned repeat All-American accolades. As key members of the past three runs to NCAA glory, Davie and Rapsey have combined for 175 goals in three seasons of work. Clark averaged 10.1 saves and 6.3 goals against per game in his debut season with the Trojans last year.

    GET YOUR STREAK ON
    USC's current win streak is up to 35 in a row, dating back to late 2011 when the Trojans won their fourth straight NCAA title. The last longest streak held by USC was a 36-game run from 2008-09, but the program record win streak stands as a 44-game stretch that spanned 2005-06. The longest men's water polo win streak is held by Stanford with 51 in a row (1985-87).

    2012 RECAP
    USC rolled undefeated through its 2012 campaign, winning its eighth MPSF Tournament title and going on to claim its eighth overall national championship with a dramatic comeback win to beat crosstown rival UCLA 11-10 in the Trojans' home pool. Head coach Jovan Vavic was named National Coach of the Year in leading the Trojans to a perfect 29-0 record for the second time in five seasons. National Player of the Year Nikola Vavic led a group of eight All-Americans, including seniors Matt Burton, Michael Rosenthal and Stephen Siri, juniors Jeremy Davie and Mace Rapsey and sophomore Kostas Genidounias. USC was ranked No. 1 from start to finish in 2012, with Nikola Vavic setting a new USC with 83 goals scored in the season en route to being named a finalist for the Cutino Award. In all, the Trojan offense -- charged by 21 different scorers -- averaged 14.3 goals per game, while the defense again led the nation with just 5.9 goals against per game. USC outscored opponents 416-170 in 2012, marking the most goals scored in a year by the Trojans since at least 1983.

    TROJANS REUNITE!
    The 2013-14 academic year marks 125 Years of Athletics at USC. To celebrate this milestone in USC history, each home football game will be a Reunion Weekend to recognize the accomplishments of the great teams, athletes and coaches of the past. USC water polo's Reunion Weekend is scheduled for Nov. 16, when USC men's water polo hosts Stanford at Uytengsu Center. All reunited Trojans are also invited to an Athletes Pre-Game Picnic before being honored at the USC football game vs. Stanford that same day at the Coliseum. For more information for interested alums, visit usctrojans.com/reunions.

    125 YEARS OF GREATNESS
    Since fielding a football team in 1888, USC has had an unparalleled athletic tradition, including 120 national team championships, an unprecedented 419 Olympians and 52 NCAA Postgraduate Scholars as the Trojan family celebrates its 125th anniversary this 2013-14 academic year. Including the USC women's soccer team's historic 2007 NCAA Championship victory, USC boasts a grand total of 120 national team championships, including a national-best 82 men's NCAA crowns. Trojan men have won more individual NCAA titles (309) than those from any other school, while the Women of Troy have added another 69 individual NCAA titles. Four Trojans have won the prestigious Sullivan Award as the nation's top amateur athlete. Two Women of Troy athletes have won the Honda Cup as the top collegiate female athlete of the year and there have been 15 Honda Award winners as the top female athlete in their sport. USC not only has more Olympians than any school, but more Olympic medalists (287) and gold medalists (135). USC water polo is a big part of that Olympic tradition, having sent 10 Trojans to the 2012 Olympics in Beijing, with four Trojans winning medals. Thanks in part to USC's water polo participants, a Trojan has won a gold medal in every summer Olympics since 1912. Go to usctrojans.com/125 to revisit the athletic highlights for Trojans the past 125 years. •