Trojans Top Bruins 9-6 To Tally 10th MPSF Tournament Title|
Nov. 20, 2016
WESTWOOD, CALIF. — The USC men’s water polo team unleashed a powerful performance in rival UCLA’s home pool, dishing out a 9-6 victory over the Bruins to claim the Trojans’ 10th MPSF Tournament Championship. Top-seeded USC jumped out to a 3-0 lead on its hosts, and No. 2 UCLA would get no closer than two goals the rest of the way as the Trojans muscled through to take the tourney title and the free ticket to the 2016 NCAA Tournament. USC will carry a 23-1 overall record into NCAA action, where the Trojans will go in hunt for a 10th men’s national championship under head coach Jovan Vavic.
USC goalie McQuin Baron was an all-out wall in the cage for the Trojans in the first frame. He’d collect seven saves in those first eight minutes — finishing with 17 total — to send a message and help stake his team to a 3-0 lead out of the gates. Nick Bell opened the scoring for the Trojans, and USC would punch up two goals in the last minute of the first frame on strikes from Zach D’Sa and James Walters to craft that crucial 3-0 advantage.
In the second, the Bruins broke through on their first possession, converting on a 6-on-5 to get on the board. But USC would manufacture a response, breaking up several minutes of scoring silence with a blast from Marin Dasic on a power play. Less than a minute later, the Trojans were up again, and this time Blake Edwards delivered the blow for the Trojans with a 6-on-5 slam that made it a 5-1 score. UCLA would manage a goal with just seven second left in the half, and USC took a 5-2 advantage for halftime.
Midway through the third, UCLA knocked in another 6-on-5 score to trim the Trojans’ lead down to two, only to see USC fire back with a 6-on-5 strike from Matt Maier, nudging USC back ahead for a 6-3 lead. In the next minute, USC came through with huge plays on both ends of the pool. Baron would knock down a 5-meter penalty shot by the Bruins, and the Bryce Hoerman hammered home an even score at the other end to tug the Trojans ahead 7-3. UCLA got one to go next to make it 7-4, and that would hold up to the end of the third frame.
UCLA goalie Garrett Danner would notch a penalty save of his own early in the fourth, and then the Bruins got back to within two on a 6-on-5 finish with 2:42 to go. USC had a quick answer to that, however, jumping back ahead with a gutsy goal from Bell to make it 8-5 USC. The Trojans would turn away back-to-back UCLA power plays next before Dasic added some padding to USC’s advantage with a long-distance strike that built a 9-5 USC lead with 30 seconds left. The Bruins got one final goal through, but it wasn’t near enough as the Trojans emerged victorious with the 9-6 final decision.
The Trojans await the announcement of the 2016 NCAA Tournament field, with USC primed for the top seed as the No. 1 team in the nation. This year’s tourney will be held in Berkeley, Calif., running Dec. 3-4.
2016 MPSF TOURNAMENT (Spieker Aquatics Center | Westwood, Calif.)
SAVES: McQuin Baron (USC) 17, Garrett Danner (UCLA) 14.