USC's Kostas Genidounias & Nikola Vavic Named Cutino Award Finalists
Dec. 27, 2013
The winners of a historic six consecutive national championships, the USC men's water polo team now boasts two Trojans on the list as finalists for the Peter J. Cutino Award for the first time in program history. USC senior Nikola Vavic has been named a finalist for the second straight season, joined this year by junior teammate Kostas Genidounias in the running for what is considered the Heisman Trophy of collegiate water polo.
This will be the 10th consecutive season that USC has been represented among the annual three male finalists named for the Cutino Award. The Trojans have captured seven NCAA titles during that span, although this is the first time that USC has more than one Trojan up for the award on the men's side. The last Trojan to win the Cutino Award was goalie Joel Dennerley, who claimed the award in 2011 as a senior. Dennerley, like Vavic, finished out his Trojan career with a complete set of four national championships -- a goal that junior Genidounias will be aiming for next year as USC makes a push for a possible seventh consecutive crown.
A Cutino Award finalist for back-to-back seasons now, senior Nikola Vavic became USC's all-time leading scorer this past year with 254 career goals. Vavic passed up 2005-06 Cutino Award winner Juraj Zatovic thanks to his 81 goals scored this season -- just two off of the record-setting mark of 83 that Vavic provided in 2012 when he was named National Player of the Year. Vavic will be remembered just as much for his deft ability to read the game, standing out as one of USC's most prolific provider of assists, as well as a savvy defender with a knack for steals. Vavic was named the 2013 MPSF Player of the Year this season and was especially unstoppable in the 2013 NCAA Championship game, when he drove home four goals including the overtime game-winner.
With one season still remaining at Troy, junior Kostas Genidounias could well wind up knocking Vavic off as the all-time leader next year. He scored in every game this season, finishing up with 79 goals to sit just behind Vavic on the scoring list in 2013. He climbed the all-time ladder to No. 5, holding 178 career goals after this season's body of work. Genidounias' strength in the pool shined brightly this season, following the Greek standout's summer experience competing with Greece at the FINA World Championships. Genidounias' 79 goals scored this year is the fourth most in a single season in program history.
Vavic and Genidounias have shared plenty of space on the honor rolls this season, both named to the All-MPSF First Team, NCAA All-Tournament First Team and MPSF All-Tournament Team. Now, however, only one player will be selected as this season's Peter J. Cutino Award winner, with Vavic and Genidounias both looking to bring home USC's fifth Cutino Award on the men's side. Also named a finalist for the award this season is Pacific's Balazs Erdelyi, who won it last season.
The Cutino Award is given annually in honor of the late Peter J. Cutino, the former University of California Berkeley and The Olympic Club coach, who passed away in September 2004. Mr. Cutino is in the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame. He won "Water Polo Coach of the Year" 17 times. He led UC Berkeley to eight NCAA National Championships. In his career Mr. Cutino also coached in the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games, the Water Polo World Championships and the World University Games.
A group of female finalists will be named at the close of the women's collegiate season, with one male winner and one female winner named at a ceremony in June 2014 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.
USC's string of men's Cutino Award finalists now stands at seven Trojans: Juraj Zatovic (2004-05 & 2005-06), Juan Delgadillo (2006-07), Adam Shilling (2007-08), J.W. Krumpholz (2008-09 & 2009-10), Joel Dennerley (2010-11 & 2011-12), Nikola Vavic (2012-13 & 2013-14) and Kostas Genidounias (2013-14).
All-time Peter J. Cutino Award winners: