USC Tackles First MPSF Battle At Home
Sept. 19, 2007
THIS WEEK: With the momentum of a third straight NorCal Tournament title behind them, USC now turns to open season on MPSF competition. The top-ranked Trojans host No. 5 Pepperdine at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 22) at McDonald's Swim Stadium, where USC is riding a 23-game win streak in its home waters.
RANKINGS: The Trojans reign supreme as the nation's top squad for the third straight week as the 2007 season gets underway. Pepperdine is ranked No. 5 in this week's poll.
LAST WEEK: The Trojans reigned supreme at the competitive NorCal Tournament last weekend, emerging as the best of 16 teams after topping host Cal 9-8 in the championship game. It was the third straight USC-Cal matchup in the final, and for the third straight time the Trojans pocketed the win and the tourney crown. USC opened with an overpowering 22-0 win, shutting out UC Santa Cruz while getting 13 players in on the scoring. Anthony Artukovich led them all with a career-high five goals, and he went on to finish the weekend as USC's top scorer with seven goals after scoring once in a 9-5 semifinal win over Stanford and again in the final match. Matt Sagehorn and Tommy Corcoran led the way in USC's 10-5 win over Long Beach State in group play with 3 and 2 goals apiece, respectively. And in the semis, J.W. Krumpholz went big with a hat trick to help propel USC past No. 4 Stanford 9-5 and into the title match. That's where USC and Cal clashed in a tight battle. In the fourth quarter, Nico Sardo tied things up 8-8 with two minutes left. With five seconds to go, Corcoran earned a penalty shot for the Trojans, and Gabor Sarusi nailed it to tally his career-best third goal of the game and lock down a championship win for USC.
SCOUTING PEPPERDINE: The No. 5 Waves are 11-2 overall after placing fifth in the NorCal Tournament. Pepperdine lost 7-5 in overtime to UCLA at the tournament, but beat UC Santa Barbara 13-12 and then UC Irvine 11-8 in the fifth-place match. The Waves' only other season loss was to UCSB, 7-6 early in the year. Adam Hewko is the Waves' top scorer with 27 goals so far. USC is 48-19-2 all-time against Pepperdine, having won the past three meetings against the Waves. USC beat Pepperdine 14-7 and 15-4 last year.
GABOR GOT IT: After a career day at the NorCal Tournament, USC senior Gabor Sarusi earned his first career award as the MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week, becoming the first Trojan this season to win the honor. Sarusi came up huge for the Trojans in the championship game of the competitive NorCal Tournament, scoring a career-high three goals, including the game-winning penalty shot to get USC a big win over host California. Sarusi scored once in the second period and twice in the fourth. After Tommy Corcoran earned a penalty shot with 5 seconds left, Sarusi took the 5-meter strike and nailed it to get the win, along with his first career hat trick. He also had two assists in the game. Sarusi finished the tournament with five goals for the undefeated Trojans
SHEA'S DAY: His USC career may just be beginning, but sophomore transfer Shea Buckner made his opener as a Trojan a career day, punching in four goals in a win over LMU. As a freshman at Cal, Buckner hit the four-goal mark twice before opting to transfer to USC after that season. Now at Troy, Buckner represents one of the top two-meter men in the game, also standing out as a member of the U.S. Senior National Team.
DIVING RIGHT IN: Only one true freshman is capped up for action this season -- a testament to the experienced depth on the Trojan roster this year. That standout fresh face is Devon Borisoff, a U.S. Youth National teamer who boasts such strong all-around talent that coach Jovan Vavic has entrusted him to plenty of playing time. Watch for Borisoff's dominating defensive skills and speed on the counterattack.
FAMILIAR FACES: There are a few faces lined up on the Trojan bench that fans haven't seen in action for a while; but all three have NCAA title-winning experience Injuries have kept Joe Cosentino and Trevor Clark out of the pool for a season or two, respectively, but both are working on a comeback this year. After winning a national championship in 2005, a shoulder injury and heart surgery took him out of the lineup through 2006. Cosentino got back in the water against LMU on Sept. 8 and scored his first goal of the year on Sept. 15. Owner of the 2003 NCAA title-winning goal, Clark is still battling injuries, but is inked in to see action on Saturday against Pepperdine.
BACK FOR MORE: A year ago, eight USC newcomers were making their Trojan debuts. Those fresh faces saw a lot in their first year, helping push USC into the NCAA final. Now well-seasoned returners, those Trojans add their experienced talent to the 2007 charge. Plan on seeing plenty of dominant depth in the form of Trojans in their second year of action - Anthony Artukovich, J.W. Krumpholz, Justin Rappel, Matt Sagehorn, Nico Sardo, Gabor Sarusi, Jordan Thompson and Drew Vyn.
INTERNATIONAL WATERS: Six Trojans expanded their roles in the international water polo scene over the summer, spending the bulk of their time training and competitng with the U.S. Junior National Team at tournaments in Europe and at the 2007 FINA Junior World Championships, where Team USA took sixth place. Anthony Artukovich, J.W. Krumpholz, Arjan Ligtenberg, Justin Rappel, Matt Sagehorn and Nico Sardo all were key members of the U.S. junior team. Krumpholz and Ligtenberg are also lined up alongside fellow Trojan Shea Buckner for double duty as members of the training roster for the U.S. Senior National Team.
DEPTH CHARGE: A whopping 13 different Trojans got to the back of the net in USC's most decisive win since 1998. USC pinned up a 22-0 win over UC Santa Cruz on Sept. 15, notching the first career shared shutout for goalies Adam Shilling and Will Cherashore. The last time USC blew out a team by at least 22 goals was a 28-3 win over UC Davis in 1998. USC's scoring balance is set to swamp opponents this season. After the first five games, 16 players have tallied scores, no one averages more than 1.5 goals per game, and only J.W. Krumpholz has had more than one multiple-goal game. Leading the scoring charge is sophomore Anthony Artukovich, who holds seven goals already after finishing 2006 with 10 goals.
HOME POOL DOMINATION: The home waters of McDonald's Swim Stadium have provided smooth sailing for USC for the past two seasons now. The Trojans finished off 2005 with a perfect 9-0 record at home, and they went 13-0 at home in 2006 to hold a 22-game win streak in their home pool. That streak is now at 23 straight after USC's win in the 2007 home opener.
SENIOR STRENGTH: Two-time All-Americans Tommy Corcoran and Adam Shilling are two of five seniors on the roster, joined by two 2006 transfers who made immediate impacts -- left-handed driver Drew Vyn and two-meter Gabor Sarusi -- and returning star Trevor Clark. Clark served up the game-winning goal for the Trojans in their 2003 NCAA championship as a freshman, and after two injury-plagued seasons is working his way back in the pool for his senior season.
WELL-CENTERED: Trevor Clark is one member of USC's ferociously deep staff of two-meter men along with fellow senior Tommy Corcoran. Back in the center slot as well are U.S. Senior National teamers J.W. Krumpholz, Shea Buckner and Arjan Ligtenberg. That highly skilled group is bulked up by several more versatile centers with the ability to provide both offensive surges and defensive strongholds at set, namely Gabor Sarusi, Jovan Vranes, Jordan Thompson and freshman U.S. Youth National Team player Devon Borisoff.
NEVER BETTER: USC's 23-0 sweep through the 2006 regular season marked the first time since men's water polo became an NCAA sport in 1969 that the Trojans have gone undefeated in the regular season. USC went 5-0 in 1944 -- long before the NCAA recognized the sport. No NCAA team has posted an undefeated overall record since California went 31-0 in 1992.
2006 RECAP: The Trojans made their second straight trip to the NCAA championship game, having ridden an undefeated regular season into the MPSF Tournament. USC was upended by Cal in the MPSF final, and was edged out in the final second of the NCAA championship game by the Bears, finishing 2006 with a 26-2 overall record.