warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

USC Water Polo Seeks SoCal Title After Win Over No. 16 Princeton

Alexa Girkout |
September 29, 2012 | 12:45 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Junior Jeremy Davie scored three goals. (USC Athletics)
Junior Jeremy Davie scored three goals. (USC Athletics)
The USC men’s water polo team will head into the SoCal Tournament this weekend on a high note. 

The Trojans dominated No. 16 Princeton on Friday afternoon in an easy 22-5 victory at McDonald’s Swim Stadium.

"Princeton plays a little unorthodox sometimes, but we prepared for that," said junior two-meter Jeremy Davie, who had three goals in the game. "We saw them last year in the semifinals in the NCAA and it wasn’t anything different from that so we were ready."

In the last game before the team heads to Santa Barbara for the weekend tournament, No. 1 USC sent 23 players into the water. Thirteen scored.

The first goal for the Trojans came within the first 21 seconds of play and after finishing off the period with a commanding 7-2 lead, they never looked back. The triumph over the Tigers marked their fifth game with 20 or more goals.

For senior driver Andrew Reego, Friday's win is a good start as the team heads into the SoCal Tournament. Reego scored twice in the fourth period.

"You want to start off right. You want to get momentum going into it," he said. "After a tough week of practice it’s really good to get your feet wet and play a good game."

Despite the win, the team isn’t getting complacent. They know there is plenty of room for improvement and that they face a difficult four-game schedule over the next two days. There seems to be a consensus about what the team needs to improve upon.

"We have to work a little bit in everything," said USC coach Jovan Vavic. 

His team misses shots, rushes shots and can improve its transitions, Vavic sad. It creates opportunities for opposing players and makes careless passes, which led to six Trojan turnovers against Princeton. 

"It's the fundamentals for us, the little things," Davie said. "We need to perfect our game in every aspect and that comes with effort, with practice and with working on our weaknesses every day, every practice."

The Trojans won't have much to perfect when it comes to defense. Vavic said the team has led the country in defense for the last five years and continues to hold on to that lead this season.

But playing five games in only three days will be a true test to USC's endurance as much as it will be a chance to see if their hard work pays off. In addition to practice, the team has spent a lot of time studying their opponents, including two hours in the classroom watching film this week.

This is all part of what Davie calls working on "excellence as a habit."

Though Friday’s game against Princeton adds an extra game to an already exhausting schedule, Reego sees its benefit.

"It's good preparation. It's a good way to warm up," he said. "It does make the weekend a bit longer but all in all I think it will actually help us in the end."

The Trojans certainly don't want a repeat of what happened in last year's SoCal Tournament; they fell to Stanford in a 6-4 loss and ended up taking fourth place after losing 7-6 to UCLA in the third-place game.

"Last year was disappointing and we’re using that to motivate us for this year," Davie said. "We don't want to have that result again."

Vavic is less concerned with what motivates his players. He puts the physical game first.

"Everything starts with your physical fitness," he said. "It doesn't matter how talented you are. It doesn’t matter how mentally focused you are."

He explained that he trains his players to be ready and tough, because in the water, talent can count for a lot less than physical ability.

But, he added, "You have to have a great desire to win. If the desire of the opponent is greater than yours, then you're probably going to lose."

Come Sunday, the Trojans will find whose desire was greatest.




Reach Staff Writer Alexa Girkout here; follow her here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.