Nov. 2, 2016
USC Water Polo Release
USC’s home stand continues this week, with an Alumni Game on tap first before resuming game action this weekend. Trojans past and present will splash down at Uytengsu Aquatics Center at 9 a.m. on Saturday for the men’s alumni game. Then, at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 6), No. 2 USC (18-1) will play host to San Jose State in an nonconference bout as the Trojans look to extend their 10-game win streak.
USC-SJSU Live Stats
THE LAST MEETING
October 10, 2015
USC opened 2016 in the same place it left off last season, holding strong at No. 2 in the nation after making 11 straight trips to the NCAA final and having claimed seven national championships during that run. The Trojans were tabbed as the No. 2 team in the land for the first four weeks of play before moving to No. 3 for five weeks. This week, the Trojans return to the No. 2 spot after last week’s upset of Cal.
USC picked up two wins last week in running up its win streak to 10 in a row. In a big 22-2 win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, two more Trojans broke the 100-goal barrier. Matteo Morelli broke through on his first of three goals tonight, and Grant Stein joined the club on the opening goal of the second period. Three days later, in one of the biggest games of the regular season so far, USC’s fourth player hit the 100-goal mark as Lachlan Edwards joined the crew with his first goal in the Trojans’ huge 10-6 win over visiting No. 2 California. USC was firing on all cylinders in that key rematch against the Golden Bears. Under the lights at Uytengsu Aquatics Center, the Trojans shined bright, sparked by a four-goal outing from Matteo Morelli and a 17-save effort from goalie McQuin Baron. The win avenged USC’s only loss of the season -- a defeat at Cal’s home pool last month. Morelli made his presence known early with a ripper to open up the scoring three minutes into the game. Cal and USC would trade scores for the next eight minutes as the Golden Bears forced three lockups on the scoreboard. But after Blake Edwards earned a 5-meter penalty shot for the Trojans, Morelli stepped up and delivered his second goal, sparking a three-goal surge that proved the difference in the game. On a USC 6-on5 chance next, Bryce Hoerman hit Matt Maier for a blast that padded USC’s lead to 5-3 with 1:42 to go in the second frame. That would hold until halftime, but USC added to its lead in the third. On another USC power play, Thomas Dunstan found Edwards for an impressive strike that made it 6-3 Trojans. No three-goal lead ever seems safe, however, and the Bears soon woke up from their slumber and registered back-to-back goals to close the gap back to one. Dunstan would issue a booming field block against Cal’s next 6-on-5 opportunity, and USC was off to the races again. Morelli laced in an unbelievable lob shot to make it 7-5, then hit Lachlan Edwards for a searing score out of set to make it 8-5. A slider from Cal cut it to 8-6 at the close of the third, but USC went on complete lockdown after that. While saves and steals kept coming for the Trojan defense, Cal was rendered scoreless for the last eight minutes of play. Meanwhile, Morelli had another goal left in his tank as he finished off a cross from Lachlan Edwards with authority to make it 9-6 early in the fourth. Then, Morelli returned the favor, hitting Edwards for the slam dunk at the post on a USC 6-on-5 to make it 10-6 Trojans. That advantage would stand up until the final buzzer, as the USC defense shut down Cal the rest of the way to close out a huge 10-6 victory over the visiting Golden Bears. For their contributions to the USC wins last week, the Trojans earned a sweep of the MPSF awards, as Matteo Morelli was named MPSF Player of the Week and Matt Maier picked up MPSF Newcomer of the Week accolades.
The Spartans enter the week with a 7-15 record with two games to play before taking on the Trojans on Sunday. Finn Pardon leads SJSU in scoring with 28 goals, and starting goalie Todd Palmer has been averaing 10.7 saves and 10.4 goals-against per game. Last year was San Jose State’s first year of existence since the university discontinued its men’s water polo program as an intercollegiate sport in 1981 after 46 years. In 2015, the Trojans posted a 17-3 over the Spartans in their MPSF matchup and then won 16-3 in the SoCal Tournament. SJSU has since left the MPSF to join the new Golden Coast Conference.
VAVIC HITS 500 (AGAIN)
The Trojans’ 18-1 start to the 2016 season now has Jovan Vavic gripping 512 career wins at the helm of the USC men’s program. Vavic captured that 500th career victory on Sept. 17 in USC’s 8-4 win at Stanford. Coincidentally, Vavic’s 500th career win as the USC women’s head coach came last season in a win over Stanford — a 7-6 victory in the semifinals of the 2016 UCI Invitational. Vavic is one of just four USC coaches to collect 500 or more wins while at Troy.
BY THE NUMBERS
Now 19 games into 2016, the Trojans continue to pin up some powerful numbers. Led by 36 goals from junior Blake Edwards and 33 from fellow junior Matteo Morelli, the USC offense has clicked off 304 goals to date. Defensively, USC has allowed no more than four goals in 14 games. Meanwhile, the USC defense has shut out opponents in 30 periods, including at least one shutout frame in every game but two. In all, USC has outscored opponents 304-80. Goalie McQuin Baron has capped up in the cage in 18 games and is averaging 10.9 saves and just 4.19 goals-against per game. As a team, USC ranks No. 1 in the MPSF in defense (4.19 gapg) and in offense (16.0 gpg).
With his fifth goal of the first half against UC Santa Barbara — on 5-for-5 shooting, no less — junior Blake Edwards became the 33rd Trojan to hit 100 goals in his USC career. He’s one of five current Trojans who entered the year with that USC Century Club on their radars, but he became the first to hit the 100 mark with that five-goal performance on Oct. 16. Edwards’ effort also helped secure his first career selection as MPSF Player of the Week on Oct. 17. He now stands at No. 32 all-time with 104 career goals.
ON THE RISE
USC has several Trojans rising in the rankings this year. Junior goalie McQuin Baron already has laid claim to the top two single-season saves marks, and in doing so has helped him recently rise to USC’s No. 2 all-time saves leader. On Oct. 7, Baron made the move to No. 2, and he now holds 739 career saves. The record-holder at Troy is Cutino Award winner and four-time NCAA champ Joel Dennerley, who collected 855 saves from 2008-11. On the offensive end, Blake Edwards hit the century mark on Oct. 16, to lead a group of five Trojans who’ve been closing the gap on the 100-goal club at Troy. Matteo Morelli scored his 100th next and moments later was joined in the club by Grant Stein, who also hit 100 on Oct. 27. On Oct. 29 Lachlan Edwards joined the crew with his first goal in USC’s win over Cal. Now, it’s just senior Nick Bell (91) who remains on the brink of breaking the century mark. Stay tuned!
LACHY LEADS THE WAY
The first Trojan to capture MPSF Player of the Week honors this season was junior 2-meter man Lachlan Edwards, who picked up the award on Sept. 12 for his 11-goal effort across three USC wins. Edwards had a team-high three goals in USC’s 14-3 win over No. 6 UC Santa Barbara in the Trojans’ home opener. The next day at the Inland Empire Classic, Edwards again led USC with four goals scored in a 27-3 win over Whittier and then added four more in a 26-1 win over La Verne. It was the first MPSF weekly award for Edwards, but he didn’t take long to gather another. The junior snagged the Oct. 3 selection as well after scoring seven goals across three games, including a hat trick in a win over No. 4 Pacific.
MATT MAKES HIS MARK
True freshman Matt Maier was USC’s second leading scorer at the Mountain Pacific Invitational, scoring in every game at the tourney as the Trojans took third at the event. For his efforts, Maier was selected as the MPSF Newcomer of the Week — the first Trojan to win the award this season — on Sept. 26. Maier scored twice in group play wins over No. 19 Santa Clara (21-4) and No. 7 Long Beach State (9-4). In the semifinals, Maier scored once in USC’s 10-8 loss to No. 3 Cal. And in the third-place game, Maier added his sixth goal of the tournament with a skip shot that netted USC an early 3-0 lead over No. 4 Pacific en route to an 8-3 win to take third at the tournament. Maier had entered the tournament having scored just three goals in USC’s first six games before delivering six for the Trojans in Berkeley.
DASIC DRUMS UP WEEKLY HONORS
Freshman Marin Dasic issued four goals across two USC wins and picked up his first career honors as a Trojan with this week’s selection as MPSF Newcomer of the Week on Oct. 10. Dasic struck twice for the Trojans in a 15-4 win over No. 7 Pepperdine before tacking up two more goals in a win at No. 17 UC Irvine two days later. Dasic entered the week averaging less than a goal a game before breaking out with two in each victory.
For this 2016 season, USC welcomes back every one of its eight All-Americans, and only one of them — Nick Bell — is a senior. What’s more, USC has all but two members of its 2015 NCAA Tournament roster back on active duty for 2016. That means firepower, experience and daunting skill is available at every turn for the Trojans. In all, USC returns its top six scorers from 2015, including All-American honorees Blake Edwards, Grant Stein, Lachlan Edwards, Matteo Morelli and Bell, while defensive dangers Mihajlo Milicevic and James Walters and newly inked Olympian McQuin Baron also bring back their All-American talent to Troy for 2016. That crew of returning All-Americans accounted for 64 percent of USC’s offensive output. Top scorer Blake Edwards scored 68 goals all on his own, tallying the sixth most single-season goals scored by a Trojan.
For the first time since 1958, USC has a roster studded with two returning Olympians. Junior McQuin Baron and freshman Thomas Dunstan both earned themselves trips to Rio de Janeiro last summer as members of the United States Olympic Team. At those 2016 Games, Baron and Dunstan got to rub elbows with two Trojan greats — USC’s all-time top scorer Kostas Genidounias capped up for Greece, while USC’s all-time leader in saves Joel Dennerley was between the pipes once again for Australia.
In his first season at Troy, Blake Edwards was USC’s top scorer. Now, he is a member of a ridiculously talented junior class. Fellow All-Americans Grant Stein, Matteo Morelli, James Walters, Mihajlo Milicevic and Lachlan Edwards are all now juniors, as are savvy scorers Bryce Hoerman and Lazar Pasuljevic. In fact, USC’s top four scorers from 2015 are all also classmates: the Edwards brothers, Stein and Morelli.
USC’s youth movement remains solid. In their first season of work as Trojans, Zach D’Sa and Chase Koplow combined for 32 goals last year, and both were members of USC’s 2015 NCAA Tournament roster. They have provided 13 and 8 goals, respectively, in 2016 so far. USC is further buoyed by a group of talented new Trojans. Clearly, 2016 Olympian Thomas Dunstan brings in some serious credentials for his freshman campaign, but several other newcomers have proven their power along with a few Trojans who redshirted last season. True freshmen Marin Dasic (19 goals) and Dunstan (20) are the top scorers of that new crew so far. Freshman Matt Maier is close behind with 15 goals, while redshirt freshmen Daniel Leong (12) and Sam Slobodien (11) clock in next. Adding to the influx of new talent are goalies Simon Wu and Will Rubschlager, who have checked in for five and four games each, respectively.
The Trojan roster boasts a lot of brotherly love this season. Two sets of brothers are in the mix, with four other brothers following in the footsteps of Trojan siblings. The Edwards brothers (Blake & Lachlan) could be considered the bash brothers of the bunch, as they hover at the top USC’s scoresheet this season. Lachlan came to USC as a true freshman in 2014 and soon convinced his older brother Blake to join the fun. Blake arrived in 2015 and also is now a junior academically alongside Lachlan. Hawaiian products, the Leong brothers (Tim and Daniel) also combine forces on the 2016 roster this year as a redshirt sophomore and freshman, respectively. Four more Trojans are capped up for USC just as their older siblings have done. James Walters (brother Jon), Grant Stein (sister Michelle), Nick Silvers (sister Chelsea and brother Andrew) and Murphy Slater (sister Melanie) have all followed their family trees to Troy.
USC rolled up another impressive run to the NCAA final in 2015 — the Trojans’ 11th consecutive trip to the title match — and finished up the season with a 22-7 overall record. USC posted a 6-3 record in MPSF play to snag the No. 4 seed into the conference tournament, where the Trojans were under pressure to perform in order to continue its NCAA tournament streak. A tense 7-6 overtime win over Stanford in the opening round was the first key. And after a loss to top-seeded UCLA in the semifinals, USC faced a must-win third-place matchup against No. 2 seeded Pacific. The Trojans were all business in that one, topping the Tigers decisively 8-4. That was crucial in earning USC a place in the NCAA tournament, scoring a place in the play-in game, which the Trojans won handily. USC followed that with a solid 9-6 win over Cal in the NCAA semis to earn a championship rematch with UCLA. The host Bruins were able to hold off the Trojans in that one with a 10-7 decision in the title match. USC would go on to place a whopping eight Trojans on the All-America list — all of whom return for this 2016 campaign. Blake Edwards picked up first team honors in his first season as a Trojan, scoring 68 goals to lead USC on the scoresheet in 2015. In all, the USC offense — with 21 different scorers — averaged 13.8 goals per game, while the defense allowed 6.2 goals against per game. By the close of the year, USC had outscored opponents 400-179.
FIGHTING ON FOR JON
On Jan. 8, 2014, the Trojan Family lost a special member in the passing of USC freshman Jon Walters. At 19 years old, Walters was an NCAA Champion, beloved teammate and a Trojan warrior for the USC men’s water polo team. His loss has touched the Trojan Family and the water polo world deeply, and the USC water polo program continues to play with Jon in their hearts. As a first-year freshman 2-meter man, Jon Walters was a key contributor on USC’s 2013 NCAA championship men’s water polo team that won a sixth consecutive NCAA title in December. He scored 17 goals on the year, including two in the NCAA semifinal game and another two in the MPSF championship game, despite missing the middle part of the season with an elbow injury. A native of Newport Beach, he attended Mater Dei High School, where he was an All-American and the 2012 CIF Player of the Year. Jon’s younger brother James is now a junior at USC, coming off two seasons in which the younger Walters earn All-American Honorable Mention.
MOUNTAIN PACIFIC INVITE RECAP
USC finished up in third place at the first edition of the Mountain Pacific Invitational in Berkeley. The Trojans opened up with a resounding 21-4 win over No. 19 Santa Clara before closing out group play with a 9-4 win over No. 7 Long Beach State. Against the Broncos, USC distributed its scoring among 11 different players in building an 11-0 lead. A first-half shutout care of goalie McQuin Baron helped power up the Trojans for the big win, while a season-high 14 different scorers contributed to the victory. Against the 49ers, the USC defense shut down its opponent for a full 24 minutes to lock away the win and punch a ticket to the semifinals. In the semi, USC squared off against tournament host No. 3 California. The Golden Bears were amped for the matchup and took early control of things with a five-goal surge while the Trojans misfired on their offensive end. A final 10-8 loss relegated the Trojans to the third-place game, where they’d clash with No. 4 Pacific. USC was ready for that one, crafting a 3-0 lead and then fending off a push by the Tigers before hitting the gas and issuing a fourth-quarter shutout paired with three more USC goals to post an 8-3 win and take hold of the third-place finish at the tourney.