No. 1 USC Takes On No. 3 Stanford
Oct. 3, 2007
THIS WEEK: Undefeated and a unanimous No. 1 in the nation, USC (7-0, 2-0 MPSF) plays host to No. 3 Stanford (5-2, 1-0) this weekend, setting up a clash of two perennial powers who have had some all-out showdowns in recent history. This week, the pair face off in MPSF action, with a 1:30 p.m. match on Saturday (Oct. 6) at McDonald's Swim Stadium, where the Trojans hold a 25-game winning streak. The last USC-Stanford collision at Troy went into sudden-death overtime, finishing as an 8-7 USC win in 2005.
RANKINGS: The Trojans reign supreme as the nation's top squad for the fifth straight week. Stanford is ranked No. 3 in this week's poll.
LAST WEEK: The Trojans followed up a hard practice week with a tight match against No. 7 Long Beach State, overcoming a one-goal deficit in the third quarter with three straight scores to work back into the lead. USC held on and posted a 9-8 win over the 49ers at McDonald's Swim Stadium behind a career-high four goals from Tommy Corcoran. USC goalie Adam Shilling recorded nine saves in the win.
SCOUTING STANFORD: The No. 3 Cardinal are 5-2 overall after beating UCLA 7-6 last week in Palo Alto. Sage Wright is Stanford's leading scorer with 14 goals, and Will Hindle-Katel and Drac Wigo follow with 13 each. Goalie Sandy Hohener leads the MPSF with 10.1 saves per game. USC is 40-54 all-time against Stanford, but the Trojans have won the past eight games against the Cardinal, including a 9-5 win in the semifinals of the NorCal Tournament this season.
GETTING DEFENSIVE: The Trojans boast the top defense in the nation this season, having allowed opponents and average of only 4.86 goals per game thanks to a stingy effort in the field and from goalies Adam Shilling and Will Cherashore. Shilling's time in the cage has seen a MPSF-best of 4.71 goals against per game.
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. To date, 18 players have tallied scores, seven different players have led the team in scoring in the first seven games, and only J.W. Krumpholz and Tommy Corcoran have had more than one multiple-goal game. Seven games into the year, no Trojan has yet hit double figures in scoring, with Corcoran and Shea Buckner in the lead with eight goals each.
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 on Sept. 18, 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 made his return to the pool known on Saturday against Pepperdine with his first goal of the year in his first game back, giving the senior 38 career goals at USC.
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. Those eight have combined for 46 of USC's 78 goals so far this year.
INTERNATIONAL WATERS: Six Trojans expanded their roles in the international water polo scene over the summer, spending the bulk of their time training and competing 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.
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 25 straight after USC's win over Long Beach State.
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.
STREAK SMARTS: OK... everyone is wondering where the Trojans' 44-game winning streak that spanned the 2005 and 2006 seasons stands. By hitting win No. 35 with its win over UCLA, the team passed up the USC football program's storied win streak, which was snapped in the 2005 national championship game just a month after the USC water polo team claimed the 2005 NCAA title. Water polo's 44-game run well overtook the program's previous best winning streak of 17 games, but it was still seven wins short of the all-time longest men's water polo winning streak in the country -- held at 51 by Stanford (1985-1987). At Troy, USC women's volleyball put up a 52-match winning streak across the 2002-03-04 seasons.