No. 2 USC Takes Control In Home Opener, Tops No. 6 UC Santa Barbara 14-3|
Sept. 10, 2016
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — The No. 2 USC men’s water polo team stayed the course in another powerfully balanced effort, whipping up a 14-3 victory over No. 6 UC Santa Barbara in the Trojans’ 2016 home opener. A stifling defense paired perfectly with hard-nosed offense for USC as the Trojans scored the first five goals of the game to assert their control of the nonconference clash. USC is now 3-0 on the year with today’s victory at Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
Two Trojans tallied hat trick in the win, while McQuin Baron was in control in the cage. Lachlan Edwards and Matteo Morelli both had punched in three goals apiece by the close of the third frame. Baron, meanwhile, amassed 16 saves on the defensive end to help USC keep a tight grip on a decisive victory.
USC flexed its scoring muscle early on as Bryce Hoerman struck first for the Trojans. Grant Stein would while one in next on a blast off the foul, and USC’s offensive momentum was in full force in home waters. While the Trojan defense — anchored by a stubborn Baron — kept turning away the Gauchos, USC kept clicking at the other end. On a USC 6-on-5, Matteo Morelli clanged the post, but Lachlan Edwards was there for the rebound and a nifty shove of the ball to the back of the net to make it 3-0. A searing strike from Mihajlo Milicevic rang up a 4-0 advantage for the Trojans, and one last Baron save against a UCSB 6-on-5 would secure a first-frame shutout and a 4-0 lead for USC. In the second, Stein zipped in his second goal of the day, beating the buzzer to mount a 5-0 advantage. UC Santa Barbara would break its silence in converting on a 6-on-5 next, only to see Morelli break off back-to-back scores to make it a 7-1 USC lead by halftime.
A powerful third quarter saw USC shut down the Gauchos once again while the Trojans stuck five more goals on the scoreboard. Lachlan Edwards knocked in two during that frame to complete his hat trick, and Morelli found the back of the net once more to round out his three-goal day. Thomas Dunstan would also finish off a USC 6-on-5 off a setup from Daniel Leong, and Zach D’Sa showed impressive maneuvering in forcing a steal and then hammering home the ensuing counterattack strike to help USC build a 12-1 lead entering the fourth. The teams would stay in stride in the fourth, registering a pair of goals apiece as USC’s Nick Bell and Sam Slobodien got on the scoresheet to wrap the game as a 14-3 USC victory.
The Trojans will now head to La Verne, Calif. for a day of action at the Inland Empire Classic tomorrow (Sept. 11). USC faces Whitter at 10:20 a.m. and then plays host Whittier at 1:20 p.m.
#2 USC 14, #6 UC Santa Barbara 3
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 16, Liam Lenihan (UCSB) 5 [1st half], Justyn Barrios (UCSB) 0 [2nd half].