No. 3 USC Blazes To Two More Big Wins|
Sept. 14, 2014
REDLANDS, CALIF. -- The No. 3 USC men's water polo team was hot-handed once again as the Trojans completed day two of the Inland Empire Classic with two more strong wins. Undefeated on the year, USC bulked up its overall record to 8-0 thanks to today's 20-6 win over Concordia and a 25-7 victory over No. 18 Air Force in Redlands, Calif.
Opening the day with a high-noon face-off against Concordia, the Trojans scored the first five goals of the game. Similar to the previous day's action, USC spread the wealth among many scoring hands, with 11 Trojans tallying goals in the win. Defensively, USC clamped down on the Eagles in the third frame, turning an 11-3 halftime advantage into a powerful 18-3 lead entering the final period of play. McQuin Baron was the goalie of record, going the first three periods in the cage before Ben Goncharenko took over in the fourth. Of USC's 11 scorers in the win, the top earners were largely Trojan freshmen. Led by Grant Stein's four-goal game, USC also had newcomer Lachlan Edwards tally a had trick while fellow freshmen Matteo Morelli and Mihajlo Milicevic finished up two goals apiece along with senior Max Hurst-Mendoza to pace the high-powered USC offense.
In a departure from yesterday's back-to-back matchups, USC had about an hour to cool down before heating back up for round two in the afternoon. The Trojans took on No. 18 Air Force in their final game of the event, and USC was ready for more. Morelli opened the first period with a hat trick to help spark the Trojans to a 9-0 effort in the first frame. Two more Trojan goals would go through to open the second before Air Force got on the board to make it 11-1. From there, USC would score eight straight goals in cruising well out of reach. Air Force got a pair of goals to go in the third frame, but UCS had amassed a 21-4 lead on the way into the final frame. Along the way to a 25-7 final win, USC freshman Stein set his career-high mark with a five-goal outing to lead the Trojan scoring effort, while Gerrit Hill punched up his first career goal as a Trojan to help round out the big win for USC. In all, 12 Trojans notched goals in the victory. In the cage, Baron collected 11 saves in his first three periods of work, with Goncharenko spelling him in the fourth and picking up three saves in that frame.
USC's next competition takes the Trojans to Stockton, Calif., for action at the NorCal Tournament. USC will open the tourney against Air Force at 10:40 a.m. on Saturday (Sept. 20) and will face either UC Santa Barbara or LMU in the second match of the day to wrap group play. Semifinals and placement games will be held on Sunday (Sept. 21).
INLAND EMPIRE CLASSIC
#3 USC 20, Concordia 6
#3 USC 25, #18 Air Force 7