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USC Men's Water Polo Beat UCLA, Cal En Route To SoCal Classic Sweep

Alex Yeoman |
October 13, 2014 | 1:57 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

USC took down UCSB in the second game of the SoCal Classic. (Alex Yeoman/Neon Tommy)
USC took down UCSB in the second game of the SoCal Classic. (Alex Yeoman/Neon Tommy)
The USC Men’s Water Polo team brought home its third straight SoCal Classic water polo title this weekend after four hard-fought wins, capped by a thrilling 10-9 victory over the third-ranked Cal Bears. 

The Trojans opened their weekend with an easy 12-5 win over Air Force Saturday morning.

Later that night, USC met #5 UCSB for the third time in a month in what would prove to be their closest match with the Gauchos yet. USC pulled out a 11-9 victory over UCSB despite an exclusion ratio of over 15-4 in favor of UCSB. 

“Santa Barbara was much tougher today” said USC coach Jovan Vavic after the win. “When you have a fairly easy win - we won 14-5 last time - whatever the coach says, it doesn’t go into their ears. The guys didn’t take me seriously and I think this is the result.”

Following the win over Santa Barbara, USC faced top-ranked UCLA who at the time was undefeated on the season. Vavic believed that as long as they “stayed more focused on defense” and “stayed much more calm”, the Trojans would have a shot to defeat the Bruins. UCLA had already dealt USC one of its two losses during the KAP-7 tournament in Stockton. 

USC came out hard against UCLA, opening up a 5-2 lead in the first period. The Bruins rebounded in the second period to go into half down only two scores at 6-4. The third period proved to be the decisive moment of the match as USC outscored UCLA 4-0 putting the Bruins down six scores entering the fourth period.

Freshman goalie McQuin Baron proved to be a major asset in this game coming up with multiple saves at crucial moments for the Trojans. UCLA scored two in the fourth, but it was too little too late. USC won 10-6 to move on to the championship game against California.

SEE ALSO: Kostas Genidounias Leads Trojans To Victory Over UCSB

Freshman goalie MaQuin Baron had himself a weekend. (Alex Yeoman/Neon Tommy)
Freshman goalie MaQuin Baron had himself a weekend. (Alex Yeoman/Neon Tommy)
USC got off to an early 2-0 lead behind goals from drivers Rex Butler and Nick Bell. The Bears answered with two goals of their own, knotting the score at two-all early in the second period. USC scored two more goals before half to bring the score to 4-2 at the half. 

The Bears looked like a different team after the half coming out fast to tie the game at 5-5 with two and half minutes left in the third period. Senior Kostas Genidounias broke the tie just thirty seconds later with a goal that helped spark the Trojans to a 7-5 lead before Cal’s Aleksa Saponjic scored a goal with one second left in the period, putting Cal only one score down entering the fourth period.

The fourth period played like a heavyweight boxing match as Cal tied the game three times with USC rebounding each time to take a one score lead again. The final minute of the game proved to be no let down at Cal’s Luca Cupido scored with 54 seconds left in the match to tie the game at 9-9.

USC didn't roll over though. 16 seconds after the game tying goal, USC’s Mac Carden scored his second go-ahead goal of the 4th period putting the Trojan’s up 10-9 with 38 seconds remaining. Cal had one last shot at to tie the game, but freshman Luca Cupido's last-second shot soared just over the net. 

“We came after them early today. Last time we played them we started off really slow” said two-meter Mac Carden after the win. “We went on a 5-0 run in the fourth period [in the Kap-7], so we knew we could score on them. We just got after them quick today because they are a really good team and we knew we needed them to be chasing us.”

Carden and Baron attested to the fact that the practice since their losses in the Kap-7 tournament allowed them to win today.

“It was definitely all the film we watched and studying what we need to fix and just bringing it every day in practice that allowed us to get the win today” said Baron. “It was definitely an advantage that we stayed in the lead all tournament long. It gives you confidence throughout the game knowing that you are ahead.”

The Trojans will travel to Palo Alto next weekend to take on second-ranked Stanford for the first time this season.

Reach Staff Reporter Alex Yeoman here



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