USC Claims Third At Kap7 NorCal Invite With Strong Win Over Cal|
Sept. 20, 2015
PALO ALTO, CALIF. -- The No. 2 USC men's water polo team shrugged off an uncharacteristically sluggish performance that resulted in a semifinal loss by powering up for a resounding win over No. 3 California in the third-place game at the 2015 Kap7 NorCal Classic in Palo Alto. The Trojans suffered their first loss of the year in a defensive battle against No. 4 host Stanford, taking a 6-5 defeat to the Cardinal to move into the evening's third-place clash. There, USC regrouped and turned a tight first three periods into a powerful win over the Golden Bears. USC moves to 9-1 overall after this weekend's work in Palo Alto. The Trojans now return to Los Angeles to set up for their home opener, which is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 26) against Long Beach State.
USC's high-powered offense sputtered for the first time this season when the Trojans squared off against host Stanford in the semifinals. Both defenses were stingy throughout, but it was the Cardinal that proved most potent in the first half. USC was unable to break through until midway through the third period of play. Stanford had grabbed a 3-0 lead at halftime while USC's offense struggled to take shape. In the third, USC's Blake Edwards helped the Trojans find their scoring touch in getting the Trojans on the board.
Stanford countered to go back up 4-1, but USC managed back-to-back goals next to fight back within reach. Sophomores Grant Stein and James Walters provided those two strikes in the last 1:36 of the third, pulling USC within one, down 4-3 entering the fourth period of play. There, Edwards' netted the equalizer for the Trojans with 4:45 on the clock, only to see Stanford bump back ahead on its very next possession. Two minutes later, USC was back in a two-goal hole, trailing 6-4 with 2:12 to go. Cue Edwards once more. The Aussie newcomer sliced in his third of the day to cut it to a one-goal margin again, but the Trojans were unable to crack the Cardinal in the remaining time. That left the Trojans with a 6-5 loss -- their first of the year -- to move into the evening's third-place game against Cal.
The Trojans found their scoring touch early in that one, drumming up four goals in the first frame alone. A tight first half gave way to a relatively lopsided Trojan win as USC worked out of reach of the Golden Bears in the fourth period of play. The game opened with both teams on the offensive. The Trojans and the Bears were snarled up at 3-3 before redshirt senior Mac Carden served up back-to-back goals to keep giving USC the advantage. His first pushed USC ahead 4-3, only to have Cal strike back and equalize it for the close of the first frame. In the second, Carden struck again, and again Cal worked back even. Later in the second period, Mihajlo Milicevic earned a 5-meter penalty shot, which Blake Edwards promptly deposited into the back of the net. That 6-5 lead would hold for halftime, and USC would continue to rally in the second half.
The third period opened with Lachlan Edwards skipping one in to pad the Trojan advantage out to 7-5. Cal worked back to within one, but that's as close as the Golden Bears would get. Carden's third goal of the day came next, and then USC poured it on in the fourth. An 8-7 USC lead entering the final frame ballooned to 11-7 with goals from James Walters and the brothers Edwards next. McQuin Baron continued to loom large in the cage to keep the Bears at bay, while Chase Koplow managed one last goal for the Trojan cause in the final minute as USC wrapped up a 12-9 final victory over Cal to end the day in third place at the NorCal Invite.
USC's next game is the Trojans' home and MPSF opener. USC will host Long Beach State in a 7 p.m. clash on Saturday (Sept. 26) at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
2015 KAP7 NORCAL INVITATIONAL
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 10, Drew Holland (STAN) n/a.
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 14, Lazar Andric (CAL) 12.