Men's Water Polo
    Undefeated USC Plays Host To MPSF Tournament

    USC defends its home pool for the MPSF Tournament this weekend.

    Nov. 21, 2012

    USC MWP MPSF ReleaseGet Acrobat Reader

    The USC men's water polo team stands tall as the only undefeated team in the land as the Trojans look to continue business as usual at McDonald's Swim Stadium. As host of the 2012 MPSF Tournament this weekend -- as well as the NCAA Tournament next week -- USC aims to make its final home stand a winning stretch. Having notched their third undefeated regular season in program history, the 24-0 Trojans will open the MPSF Tournament as the top seeds up against No. 8 seeded UC Santa Barbara (15-10) with the tourney opener at 10 a.m. on Friday (Nov. 23). If USC can capture its third win of the year over the Gauchos there, the Trojans would be in good shape to secure an NCAA bid, putting them in the Saturday (Nov. 24) semifinals. On Sunday (Nov. 25), the MPSF championship game, where the automatic NCAA bid is on the line, is set for 3 p.m. The third-place game will precede that final at 1:30 p.m. Both the third-place and title matches will be STREAMED LIVE ONLINE with Greg Mescall and Steve Carrera on the call.

    UC Santa Barbara7
    November 3, 2012
    McDonald's Swim Stadium
    Top-Ranked Trojans Stop UC Santa Barbara 12-7
    The No. 1 USC men's water polo team has stretched its undefeated 2012 record out to 21-0 with a strong effort today in a 12-7 MPSF win over visiting No. 5 UC Santa Barbara. The Trojans were backed up by 14 saves from goalie James Clark, while Nikola Vavic buried three goals at the other end to up his career total to 150 goals and take his place at No. 9 all-time at Troy. The win also keeps the Trojans perfect in MPSF play, as the 21-0 Trojans are now 6-0 in conference action.

    Long Beach City College6
    September 26, 2009
    McDonald's Swim Stadium
    Long Beach City College6
    September 26, 2009
    McDonald's Swim Stadium

    USC opened 2012 as the No. 1 team in the land -- deference to the Trojans' historic four straight NCAA titles -- and has remained there all season long as teams now enter the 13th week of 2012 competition.

    The Trojans have the chance to put on a true championship show for its USC fan base this year, as both the 2012 MPSF Tournament and the 2012 NCAA Championships are being held on the USC campus. McDonald's Swim Stadium -- which is due to begin transformation into the Uytengsu Aquatics Center as soon as the national championship trophy is hoisted in the air -- will be the site of both postseason tournaments in 2012. Tickets are on sale for both events now. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS to join the fun to come!

    USC was 20-2 overall and the top seed in the 2011 MPSF Tournament, which was held at UCLA. The Trojans opened up with an 11-7 win over Pacific in the first round and then topped Stanford 8-6 in the semifinals to square off against host UCLA in the title match. USC had the automatic bid into NCAAs practically sewn up by virtue of the win over Stanford and a regular-season victory over Cal. In the MPSF title match, the Trojans and the Bruins battled through to sudden-death, where host UCLA managed the winner to lock in on the automatic berth as the MPSF Tournament champ. USC's body of work on the year to date would keep the Trojans locked in for the NCAA Tournament, however, and USC went on to earn the top seed as an at-large team in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, en route to the Trojans' fourth straight national championship on a 7-4 win over UCLA in the final.

    AND NOW...
    This year, the MPSF host Trojans are looking for their eighth MPSF Tournament title and an automatic berth into the coming 2012 NCAA Championships, where USC hopes to defend its four straight national championship. Undefeated USC (24-0) has already beaten all its MPSF opponents at least once this season as the Trojans sit as the top seeds for the 2012 MPSF Tournament ahead of No. 2 seed UCLA (25-3), No. 3 California (15-7) and No. 4 Stanford (15-5). Long Beach State (22-7) has the No. 5 seed, followed by No. 6 Pepperdine (11-10), No. 7 Pacific (12-10) and No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (15-10), which beat out UC Irvine (14-12) for the final slot in this year's tourney.

    USC topped off its third undefeated regular season finish in program history with a 10-9 win over crosstown rival No. 2 UCLA on a rainy Saturday at McDonald's Swim Stadium. Senior Michael Rosenthal ripped in three huge goals for the Trojans to keep USC on pace to victory in its MPSF finale, which took USC to a 24-0 overall record and a perfect 8-0 mark in MPSF play to secure the top seed for the Trojans in next week's MPSF Tournament. But before the postseason got underway, USC had some serious business to take care of against the rival Bruins. As the only two undefeated teams in MPSF play, the match was the clincher for the top seed in the coming conference tourney. The pivotal nature of the game was clear from the start, as the teams tangled in driving rain throughout much of the match. The Bruins would take slim one-goal leads early the first period, but the Trojans were sparked by Rosenthal's scoring effort. He'd plug in a pair in the first frame, including the go-ahead goal that made it 3-2 after Zach Lucas had delivered a 6-on-5 equalizer for the Trojans. Rosenthal's panache for pulling the Trojans into the lead would come in handy late in the game, too. It was his bullet with 2:16 to go in regulation that broke a late tie and put USC ahead 9-8. Mace Rapsey's second of the day would be the decider as he struck with 31 ticks to go for a two-goal USC lead that would prove crucial after the Bruins managed one three seconds later. Up 10-9 with 28 seconds left, though, the Trojans could keep control of the ball for the final stretch as USC outlasted UCLA for the win. Rosenthal would go on to be named MPSF Player of the Week for the first time in the redshirt senior's career.

    USC was wholly dominant at the 2012 SoCal Tournament, while the nation's other top-ranked teams faltered. The top seed in the tourney, Trojans opened with a 15-4 win over St. Francis before posting a 9-4 win over Pacific during group play. That put USC in the semifinals, where the Trojans faced No. 5 UC Irvine after the Anteaters had upset No. 4 California in their group match. The Trojans dispatched UC Irvine with a 10-5 win to take a spot in the title match. That's where USC squared off against tournament host UC Santa Barbara, which had dealt out back-to-back upsets in beating No. 3 Stanford in group play and then topping No. 2 UCLA in the semifinals. The Trojans refused to be a third upset for the Gauchos, as Nikola Vavic plugged in the first three goals of the game for USC on his way to a career-high six as USC pounded UCSB 14-5 to with the championship. It was USC's ninth SoCal Tournament title in the past decade. Vavic was USC's top scorer in the tournament with 14 goals, followed closely by Kostas Genidounias with 11. Goalies James Clark and Ely Bonilla shared time in the cage. Clark accumulated 15 saves with eight goals against in seven periods of work, and Bonilla gathered 29 saves and allowed 10 goals in nine periods between the pipes. Vavic's hot hand in the tourney would earn the junior his first career pick as MPSF Player of the Week on Sept. 17.

    In the Trojans' fifth major tournament appearance in Northern California, USC brought home yet another title in rolling up its third straight NorCal Tournament championship at Stanford. The three NorCal crowns go along with the Trojans' two latest NCAA Championships also won up north in the past two years. For this 2012 edition of the NorCal Tournament, USC opened with a near-shutout of Pomona-Pitzer as Trojan newcomer James Clark capped up in goal for the first time and hauled in 10 saves in his debut. He would help anchor a 22-1 win for USC while 13 different Trojans scored goals at the other end, led by hat tricks from Kostas Genidounias and Nikola Vavic. The next bracket game of the day put USC up against No. 8 Pepperdine. Ely Bonilla manned the cage in that one, setting his career high with 12 saves as the Trojans topped the Waves 9-4 thanks in part to four goals from Vavic. Solidly set up for a semifinal spot against host Stanford, the Trojans emerged victorious in overtime against the Cardinal, getting an OT goal from Jeremy Davie while the Trojan defense -- again with Bonilla in the cage for 12 more saves -- shut down Stanford in overtime for a 10-9 win. That put the Trojans up against UCLA in the title match for the third straight year. Clark was the goalie for USC in this one, and the Trojans built up a 5-0 lead on the Bruins to cruise through the title match for a 7-6 win that wrapped up a third consecutive NorCal Tournament crown for the Trojans. Vavic was the top gun in the title match with four goals, and Clark finished with 11 saves against the Bruins. With that effort, Vavic would go on to earn repeat honors as MPSF Player of the Week on Oct. 1.

    Kostas Genidounias is a savvy sophomore now, and has showed now sign of a slump in the Greek import's second season at Troy. He and Nikola Vavic are arguably the most dangerous scoring tandem in the game, having combined for 37 percent of USC's scoring to date. A 2011 All-American and crowned an MPSF Player of the Week for the first time after an all-around impressive effort in a Trojan win over Cal this season, Genidounias has scored in all but two games this year and has pumped in 54 goals to date to outpace his freshman season total of 31.

    The stingy USC defense has posted at least one shutout period in all but six games this season. Only Pepperdine, Stanford, UC Irvine, Pacific and UCLA have managed to score in all four quarters of regulation, although the Cardinal were successfully silenced during overtime in USC's NorCal Tournament semifinal win earlier this season. In seven of USC's 24 games to date, the Trojans have held opponents scoreless in the third period of play. In all games, USC boasts 25 shutout periods during regulation play.

    THE 400 CLUB
    USC's 7-6 win over California on Sept. 23 was big, to be certain, but the biggest number that came out of the victory didn't show up anywhere on the scoresheet. The Trojans' nationally televised takedown of the Bears at McDonald's Swim Stadium was USC head coach Jovan Vavic's 400th career win with the Trojan men's program. His career mark on the men's side now stands at a daunting 415-64 (.866) thanks to USC's 24-0 run into the 2012 postseason as the Trojans look to defend their unprecedented four straight national championships. The 400th victory was secured by none other than Vavic's own son, Nikola Vavic, whose goal with 1:38 remaining locked the Trojans in on the 7-6 comeback win over the Bears. Jovan Vavic is in his 18th season at the helm of the Trojan men, with whom he has won seven national championships to go along with three won in 18 seasons as the USC women's head coach, where he is 413-131 overall. A 10-time National Coach of the Year, Vavic has seen his Trojans and Women of Troy win 10 Peter J. Cutino Awards to go along with the 10 national championship trophies that adorn his office. In the 2012 London Olympic Games, Vavic had a total of 10 USC athletes competing for their countries. In his tenure at Troy, Vavic has a winning record against all opponents on the men's side, and the win in the Sept. 23 clash with Cal improved his personal record against the Bears to 36-12.

    As USC works into the home stretch of the 2012 season, 19 different Trojans have scored goals -- just two away from last year's grand total of 21 scorers. Led by 74 from Nikola Vavic and 54 from Kostas Genidounias to date, USC is flexing some serious scoring muscle in averaging and MPSF-best 14.58 goals per game. On opening weekend for the Trojans, USC had four players score their first career goals: Mac Carden, Eugene Chong, Russell Renteria and Chase Watson. So far, USC is outscoring opponents 350-129, thanks to a Trojan defense averaging just 5.38 goals-against per game. USC leads the MPSF in both defense and offense to date. USC has now scored at least 300 goals for five straight seasons.

    Already in the history books as members of the first program to win four straight national championships, USC still boasts a group of Trojans who are looking for their fifth NCAA championship rings. Redshirt seniors Matt Burton, Michael Rosenthal and Andrew Reego have been at USC for the past four championship runs. And although their fellow four-peater Brian Boswell has been sidelined by medical issues for 2012, the Trojan veterans are aiming to once again roll to victory and grab an unprecedented fifth championship ring. Reego and Rosenthal were redshirts in 2008, when Burton competed as a true freshman. Burton was injured early in 2011, sidelined for the rest of the year but returning now as a captain again for the 2012 Trojans. Those three fifth-year players are part of a talented senior class that is rounded out by Tobias Preuss, who joined the Trojan roster as a sophomore in 2010.

    100 AND COUNTING...
    Junior Nikola Vavic hit the 100-goal mark in the first weekend of action, putting him on pace to blaze a trail toward the top of the USC career scoring list. Now with 164 goals to date with five games likely still to go in his junior season, Vavic is making a strong challenge for all-time leader Juraj Zatovic's top spot. Zatovic tallied 220 in his four seasons at Troy, which included two national championships (2003 & 2005). Vavic already has two NCAA titles in the books as he aims to lead the charge for the Trojans for 2012 and beyond. With 74 goals to date, he's well overtaken his previous season best of 49 scored as a freshman. Vavic has scored in every game for USC this year and has taken over at No. 5 all-time with 164 career goals thus far through his junior season. Vavic's 74 goals so far also ranks him at No. 4 all-time in single-season scoring.

    The Trojan roster again boasts three standout players from Down Under. With the graduation of USC's all-time career saves leader Joel Dennerley, the Trojans have another Aussie goalie in newcomer James Clark -- also a 2012 Olympian alongside Dennerley. Returning Australian All-Americans Jeremy Davie and Mace Rapsey are also back in the water with plenty of championship experience for the Trojans, having been key members of the last two runs to NCAA glory. Davie and Rapsey have combined for 44 goals so far this season, and Clark has capped up for 14 games as he now averages 10.0 saves and 5.67 goals-against per game.

    USC has arguably the most dominant goalkeeping tandem in the nation. With tag-team efforts at the NorCal and SoCal Tournaments, redshirt sophomore Ely Bonilla and newcomer James Clark are each averaging around 10 saves per game to help the Trojan defense allow just 5.38 goals per game. Although teammates for the first time this year, both goalies have had the distinction of playing behind four-time All-American, Cutino Award winner and Olympian Joel Dennerley. After redshirting the 2010 season, Bonilla was a backup to Dennerley in USC's run to the 2011 NCAA Championship, and Clark was Dennerley's capable understudy for Australia at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

    2011 RECAP
    The 2011 Trojans never slipped farther than the No. 2 spot in the national rankings and wrapped up the year on top once again as USC made history as the first-ever men's water polo team to win four consecutive national championships. Behind a set of eight All-Americans, including National Player of the Year and Cutino Award winner Joel Dennerley, the Trojans finished 2011 with a 24-3 overall record after an 8-0 run through the MPSF regular season. In addition to Dennerley, senior Peter Kurzeka also finished up his Trojan career as a four-time NCAA champ and also with another set of All-American honors. Head coach Jovan Vavic was named National Coach of the Year, with six more Trojans on the All-America list: Jeremy Davie, Nikola Vavic, Kostas Genidounias, Tobias Preuss, Mace Rapsey and Michael Rosenthal. USC saw a 13-game win streak snapped in the MPSF Tournament final by UCLA, but the Trojans would exact revenge with a dominating 7-4 win over the Bruins in the national championship game. Kurzeka was USC's top scorer with 42 goals on the year, followed by Nikola Vavic with 41. In all, the Trojan offense -- charged by 21 different scorers -- averaged 11.6 goals per game, while the defense again led the nation with just 5.4 goals against per game. USC outscored opponents 314-146 in 2011. •