No. 2 USC Aiming For Another SoCal Tournament Title
Trojan senior Nikola Vavic is just six goals away from becoming USC's all-time top scorer.
Oct. 9, 2013
USC Water Polo Release
The No. 2 USC men's water polo team digs in for more tough competition this weekend at the 2013 SoCal Tournament, hosted by UC Irvine. The Trojans (13-1) are grouped with Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount and St. Francis Brooklyn, opening up against the Terriers in an 8 a.m. match at Corona del Mar High School on Saturday (Oct. 12). A win there would put USC up against the winner of the morning's 49er-Lion game at 2 p.m. for the right to move into Sunday's semifinals at 10:50 a.m. at UC Irvine. The championship game is set for 6:15 p.m. that evening, following the 4:50 p.m. third-place game. For the Trojans, in addition to the goal of defending the 2012 crown, all eyes also will be on the deft arm of Nikola Vavic
, who enters this year's tourney needing six goals to take over as the Trojans' top scorer in program history.
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @USCWaterPolo
THE LAST MEETING
September 29, 2012
Santa Barbara, Calif.
THE LAST MEETING
|Long Beach City College||6
September 26, 2009
McDonald's Swim Stadium
USC was ranked No. 1 in the nation from Nov. 9, 2011 up until this week's Sept. 25 rankings. USC's Sept. 22 loss to UCLA snapped a 41-game winning streak held by the Trojans, who are now ranked No. 2 in the nation for the third week in a row. The rest of the SoCal Tournament field includes: No. 1 UCLA, No. 3 Pacific, No. 4 Stanford, No. 5 California, No. 6 UC Santa Barbara, No. 7 Long Beach State, No. 8 Pepperdine, No. 9 UC Irvine, No. 10 LMU, No. 11 Concordia, No. 13 UC San Diego, No. 14 UC Davis, No. 15 Santa Clara, No. 16 St. Francis Brooklyn and unranked Pomona-Pitzer.
SOCAL TOURNEY NOTES
This year's edition of the competitive SoCal Tournament takes place in Irvine, Calif., where 16 of the nation's top teams will do battle and the Trojans take aim at their 10th SoCal crown in the past 11 years. Including tournament host UC Irvine, all nine Mountain Pacific Sports Federation teams will be included, along with competitive teams from around the country. Coming in from out of state is St. Francis, which joins an otherwise all-California field, including non-MPSF squads Concordia, LMU, Pomona-Pitzer, Santa Clara, UC Davis, UC San Diego to round out the 16-team field. All told, 15 of the top 16 ranked teams in the nation will be in the mix. Last year, USC started strong in beating St. Francis Brooklyn 15-4 and Pacific 9-4 to reach the semis. There, USC plowed through UC Irvine 10-5 to advance to the title match against an upset-minded UC Santa Barbara. The Trojans took down the Gauchos there 14-5 to win it all for the ninth time in the last decade. Follow along this year's tournament action at the 2013 SoCal Tournament Central page.
USC was hot out of the gates in opening 2013 MPSF competition with a decisive win over visiting No. 9 UC Irvine. The Trojans peeled out with seven unanswered goals against the Anteaters and put forth a strong first-half effort en route to a final 18-7 victory. USC's early-game surge was sparked by a strong move from Jeremy Davie at the two-meter spot. Fellow Aussie Mace Rapsey would fire off three goals in the Trojans' scoring onslaught, pegging three goals to the back of the net to go along with strikes from Rex Butler, Kostas Genidounias and Nikola Vavic as USC amassed a 7-0 lead on its guests. UC Irvine got on the board with a 5-meter penalty shot converted by Mitch Wise -- his first of three goals on the day for the Anteaters. Before the end of the half, Rapsey would deliver his fourth goal while Genidounias added another, although UCI saw Jacob Mourer join Wise on the scoresheet before the break to make it a 9-2 Trojan advantage at halftime. The Trojans came out for the second half with a three-goal run in which Rapsey sliced in his fifth of the day and took his career count up to 99 goals. The century mark would elude the senior in this one, but there were several other Trojans also at the ready to punch in some scores. In a long third period of play, USC tacked up six goals as Genidounias ran his count up to four on the day and Vavic knocked in his third with a penalty blast. Marc Vonderweidt, too, got in on the scoring action for USC, while UC Irvine managed three goals in the frame to make it a 15-5 USC lead entering the fourth. Vavic scored his fourth in that last period, while Ivan Kustic and Chase Watson plugged in one apiece to help the Trojans answer two Anteater goals with a set of three last Trojan strikes to wrap up the game as an 18-7 USC victory. Goalie James Clark hauled in 11 saves for the Trojans in the win.
BY THE NUMBERS
Fourteen games into 2013, the Trojans are putting up some big numbers. Led by Nikola Vavic with 42 goals, Kostas Genidounias with 37, Connor Virjee with 25, and Mace Rapsey with 23, USC has outscored opponents 259-67 -- almost quadrupling its foes' scoring count to date. Defensively, USC is allowing just 4.79 goals per game and has held opponents scoreless in 16 periods of regulation play so far, including eight games where the Trojans shut out opponents in the first period.
Nikola Vavic entered 2013 in the books ranked No. 4 all-time in USC scoring history. After two weekends of work, Vavic took over the No. 2 spot, and he now holds 215 career goals. That puts the senior six 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. 14 all-time with 136 goals, and Davie ranks No. 23 with 113 to date. Senior Mace Rapsey is just a breath away from cracking the century mark as well. After a five-goal outing vs. UC Irvine last week, Rapsey now holds 99 career goals.
went in defense of three straight NorCal Tournament titles last week in action in the Bay Area. The Trojans beat Diablo Valley College to open the tourney and topped Pepperdine 9-4 to earn a place in Sunday's semifinals against Stanford. There, USC had to endure a four-goal scoring surge by the Cardinal that saw Stanford turn a 4-2 Trojan lead into a 6-4 Stanford advantage midway through the fourth quarter. USC snapped that scoreless slump with a blast from Kostas Genidounias to cut the deficit to one with 1:40 to go in regulation. In the final minute, Zach Lucas punched in the equalizer to make it 6-6 and ultimately force overtime. Genidounias' third goal of the game came during the first OT frame, putting USC up 7-6. The Trojans would extend their scoring run out to four in a row when Connor Virjee ripped in a score to take the Trojans ahead 8-6 with 1:31 left in OT. Stanford got one to go with 25 ticks to go, but the Trojans held strong to their advantage to net the 8-7 win and punch their ticket to the title match for a shot at defending their three straight NorCal titles. That put the Trojans up against UCLA in the NorCal final for the fourth straight year. This time, the Bruins would pull off the win, though. Neither team led by more than a single goal throughout as the two rivals fought through eight ties. The Trojans would trail the Bruins 4-3 after the first frame, but took a 6-5 advantage at halftime thanks to a score from Nikola Vavic with 39 seconds to go. In the third, Virjee would deliver another final-minute strike for USC to put the Trojans up 7-6 entering the fourth frame. The Bruins opened the fourth with back-to-back goals to put USC behind 8-7 with five minutes left in regulation. Genidounias would come up with the equalizer with 3:30 to go, only to see the Bruins jump back on top 45 seconds later. That 9-8 UCLA edge would hold up until the buzzer, leaving the Bruins as the winners of this 2013 NorCal Tournament title. Genidounias and Mace Rapsey would finish as USC's top scorers in the tournament, scoring six goals apiece. USC's game against Diablo Valley did not count toward official records or stats as DVC is a junior college team.
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!
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
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.
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 combined for 175 goals in their first 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.
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.
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.