No. 2 Trojans To Settle Score With Stanford on Saturday
No. 2 USC hosts the No. 3 Cardinal at 2:30 p.m. before facing Pomona-Pitzer at McDonald's Swim Stadium.
Oct. 26, 2011
USC MWP ReleaseTHIS WEEK
The No. 2 USC men's water polo team has a big Saturday on tap for McDonald's Swim Stadium, highlighted by a rubber match with Stanford in the teams' 2011 MPSF clash. USC (13-2, 4-0 MPSF) will host the No. 3 Cardinal (14-3, 3-1) at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 29) before facing Pomona-Pitzer (6-15) in a nonconference matchup at 4 p.m. The Trojans are looking to avenge a 6-4 loss to the Cardinal from earlier in the month after USC claimed a win in the first face-off of the season with a 12-5 victory in September.
USC opened 2011 as the No. 1 team in the land -- deference to the Trojans' three straight NCAA titles and status as reigning MPSF Tournament champs -- and remained there for four weeks until taking their first losses on Oct. 2 and moving to No. 4. As of Oct. 19, however, USC moved up to rank No. 2, where the Trojans remain this week. Stanford ranks No. 3 this week, and Pomona-Pitzer is receiving votes.
The No. 3 Cardinal is 14-3 overall and 3-1 in MPSF play after four nonconference wins last week at the Rodeo Tournament. Stanford's lone MPSF loss was 7-6 loss to UCLA on Oct. 15. Alex Bowen leads Stanford in scoring with 39 goals, and goalie Brian Pingree is averaging 6.5 saves and 5.5 goals-against per game. USC is 51-56 all-time against Stanford after a 6-4 loss to Stanford in the semifinals of the SoCal Tournament. USC won its first meeting of the year against Stanford with a 12-5 victory in the semis of the NorCal Tournament on Sept. 18. Last season, USC and Stanford split games, with the Cardinal winning 5-3 in their MPSF game and USC taking an 8-7 sudden-death win in the 2010 MPSF Tournament championship game.
The Sagehens are 6-15 overall after beating Whittier 13-4 and falling to UCLA 14-4 last Saturday. Jason Cox leads the team in scoring with 35 goals. USC is 5-0 all-time against Pomona-Pitzer, last facing in a 16-2 USC victory in 2009.
USC grabbed another MPSF win with a 10-6 victory over host No. 5 UC Santa Barbara on Sunday afternoon. The Trojans claimed their fourth straight win in going to 4-0 in MPSF play thanks to another well-rounded offensive effort, led by another hat trick from sophomore Jeremy Davie and anchored by eight saves from senior goalie Joel Dennerley. After a tight first period that was even at 2-2 and a 3-2 Gaucho lead early in the second frame, the Trojans proceeded to roll up a lead on the host Gauchos, kicking out on a five-goal scoring streak as Davie worked his way into hat trick en route to the 10-6 win.
GOLDEN GOAL VS. GOLDEN BEARS
USC wrapped up another tense battle in Berkeley with a win over host Cal, this one taken down to the wire and capped off in sudden death by Jeremy Davie's winner with six seconds to go for a 9-8 MPSF win by the Trojans. Both teams held two-goal advantages during the match, but things tightened up in the fourth to push things into another overtime showdown between the Trojans and the Bears, mirroring the 2010 NCAA Championship match between the two teams in the same pool last season, though the tension would crank up even higher as the match went to sudden death. That's where Joel Dennerley's heroics in the cage helped set up a final strike from Davie, who slammed home the winner on an assist from Nikola Vavic. Davie had a hat trick in the win, helping garner the sophomore his first selection as the MPSF Player of the Week. Dennerley racked up 15 saves in the win to anchor the Trojan defense.
The streaking USC men's water polo team stumbled on the second day of action at the SoCal Tournament in early October. The Trojans' undefeated start to 2011 and hopes of claiming a ninth straight SoCal title were both dashed by two losses in which USC uncharacteristically stalled out in the second half. The Trojans first fell 6-4 to No. 4 Stanford in Sunday morning's semifinals, and then got edged out by No. 2 UCLA in a 7-6 loss in the third-place game to leave the eight-time defending SoCal tourney champs with a fourth-place finish at the 2011 SoCal Tournament. The loss to Stanford snapped USC's 22-game win streak that had spanned from last season's run to the MPSF and NCAA Championships. The Trojans had a strong start to the tourney on opening day, picking up their eighth and ninth straight wins of the year with a 21-1 victory over Pomona-Pitzer and an 11-5 win over UC Irvine. Kostas Genidounias topped the scoring charts on the weekend with six goals, while Mace Rapsey put in five and Jeremy Davie, Nikola Vavic and Ivan Kustic had four each. Joel Dennerley made 26 saves in three games, and Ely Bonilla played five periods in the first two games with eight total saves.
In USC's first 15 games of 2011, 21 different Trojans have scored goals, including a set of nine with at least 10 goals to date. Peter Kurzeka leads the pack with 26, followed by newcomer Kostas Genidounias with 19 and Jeremy Davie and Nikola Vavic each with 17. USC set its highwater mark with a season-high 12 different scorers in a 21-1 win over Pomona-Pitzer on Oct. 1. So far, USC is outscoring opponents 181-71 and holds the top defensive mark in the conference with an average of just 4.7 goals-against per game.
ANOTHER NOTCH IN NORCAL
USC made an early-season statement in capturing its second straight NorCal Tournament title behind a history-making defensive stand from USC goalie Joel Dennerley and a five-goal frenzy from newcomer Kostas Genidounias in a 10-8 championship win over UCLA. The Trojans had made short work of Stanford in the semifinals, stacking up its biggest win over Stanford since 2008 with a powerful 12-5 victory. Stockton also was the site of the Trojans' last big win over Stanford, which USC beat 10-3 in the 2008 tourney semis. USC's championship run was set up by two wins on Saturday in group play. The Trojans moved past West Valley JC with a 20-3 decision that they followed with an 11-4 win over UC Irvine. Ten Trojans scored in the victory over the Anteaters. Leading the scoring front in the last three games of the tourney was Genidounias with eight goals, followed by four each from Brian Boswell and Michael Rosenthal. Goalie Dennerley amassed 37 saves in those three games including a career day of 19 saves vs. the Bruins. For his historic and impressive saves tally in the winning run, Dennerley also collected his seventh career selection as the MPSF Player of the Week.
Senior Joel Dennerley became USC's all-time career saves leader while also helping the Trojans claim their second straight NorCal Tournament championship. After 12 saves in a dominating 12-5 semifinal win over Stanford, Dennerley needed just three saves in the title match against UCLA in order to take over as USC's all-time career saves leader. The senior went well over that mark in collecting a career-high 19 saves for the Trojans' defensive stand against the rival Bruins, anchoring a 10-8 win to net the tournament title for USC while chiseling himself in Trojan history by eclipsing a 24-year stand by Kevin Stringer as the USC saves leader. Dennerley now holds 766 career saves. He's averaging 9.4 saves per game now, with an MPSF-best 4.8 goals against average.
IN THE BOOKS
USC seniors Joel Dennerley and Peter Kurzeka have inked their names on the USC career charts with impressive numbers as they touch in on their final seasons at Troy. Dennerley became USC's all-time career saves leader with a career-high 19-save outing vs. UCLA in the NorCal Championship game on Sept. 18. Kurzeka, meanwhile, is climbing up the career goals ladder. His 100th career goal was the winner in USC's 2010 NCAA Championship game, and he now holds 126 to stand at No. 15 all-time. If he stays on pace, Kurzeka can crack the all-time top-10, where Juan Delgadillo sits at No. 10 with 143 goals.
Trojans Jeremy Davie and Kostas Genidounias joined forces as teammates for the first time after having squared off as opponents at the FINA Men's Junior World Championships. A returning All-American for the Trojans, Davie capped up for his Australian Junior National Team, while newcomer Genidounias was a hometown hero for his Greek Junior National Team for the competition that came to a close on Sept. 4 in Volos, Greece. Both Trojans were key contributors for their respective squads overseas, as Australia and Greece wound up clashing in the third-place game. Davie struck first for Australia in the game, but it was Greece that would prevail in a 7-5 decision that secured a bronze medal for Genidounias and his Greek teammates. Both Trojans have wasted no time making an impact for USC. Genidounias is USC's second leading scorer with 19 goals, and Davie isn't far behind that count with 17 after back-to-back hat tricks.
SENIOR CORE AIMS FOR FOUR
Trojan seniors Matt Burton, Joel Dennerley and Peter Kurzeka were freshmen when USC won the 2009 NCAA championship. As sophomores, they again held the trophy high at the end of that season. Last year, as juniors, they led a USC squad picked to finish fourth in the conference to the top yet again. Now, with the stiff breeze of three straight national championships pushing them into their senior season at Troy, the All-American trio aims to go out on top once again and, in doing so, become the first collegiate men's water polo team ever to win four consecutive national championships.
YOUNG GUNS RETURN
Offensively, USC's top 10 scorers from 2010 are back in the water. That group accounted for 81 percent of USC's goal count last season. USC's top scorer as a freshman and an All-American as well, Nikola Vavic returns. More young power is generated from All-American Jeremy Davie, and fellow sophomores Mace Rapsey and Connor Virjee, who helped claim that third straight title in their first seasons of action with the Trojans, along with Tobias Preuss and Stephen Siri. More veteran talent comes in the form of Brian Boswell and Michael Rosenthal, members of USC's last two NCAA championship rosters. New guns are also in line to make a further impact as the Trojan depth charge expands for 2011.
The 2010 Trojans were picked fourth in both the 2010 MPSF and national preseason polls before thundering through the season with a 26-2 overall record to add the 2010 NCAA crown to its 2008 and 2009 trophies. USC dropped two losses during the regular season, but went on a roll to close out the year by winning the MPSF Tournament title and then finishing off a 12-10 overtime win over host Cal in the NCAA Championship game. It was USC's 25th NCAA appearance and sixth national championship, and gave the Trojans their fourth title in the past six seasons. Jovan Vavic was named the National Coach of the Year, making him the only men's water polo coach to earn three consecutive selections. Five Trojans were named All-Americans at year's end as well. MPSF Player of the Year Joel Dennerley and Peter Kurzeka earned First Team honors, with Matt Burton, Nikola Vavic and Jeremy Davie also named All-Americans. Vavic was the team's top scorer with 49 goals, leading a set of 21 scorers on the year. As a team, USC was the best in the MPSF, averaging 12.7 goals per game offensively and allowing 6.1 goals per game defensively. USC outscored its opponents 382-183 in 2010.