Nov. 16, 2016
USC Water Polo Release
The top-ranked team in the land for the first time since 2014, USC will carry a 12-game win streak into this year’s edition of the MPSF Tournament as the Trojans look to press on toward a 12th consecutive NCAA final appearance. The No. 1 seed in the MPSF tourney, the Trojans (20-1) are grouped with No. 4 seed Stanford (12-6) and No. 5 seeded newcomer Penn State Behrend (0-23). The winner of that group will go straight to the MPSF title match. In the opposite group, No. 2 seed UCLA (24-1) and No. 3 California (18-3) are fighting for a spot in the final. The 2016 MPSF Tournament runs Nov. 18-20 at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center in Westwood. USC will open up against Stanford in a 3 p.m. matchup on Friday (Nov. 18) before taking on Penn State Behrend at 6 p.m. that evening. Two wins will ensure a trip to the MPSF championship bout, which is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday (Nov. 20), preceded by an 11 a.m. third-place game. Friday and Saturday’s games will be streamed live online, and Sunday’s placement games will both be televised on Pac-12 Networks, with Greg Mescall and Jim Watson on the call.
MPSF TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
THE LAST MEETING
September 17, 2016
Palo Alto, Calif.
No. 2 Trojans Snag Jovan Vavic's 500th Men's Win In 8-4 Victory At No. 5 Stanford
The No. 2 USC men's water polo team rang up a key MPSF win while also snagging head coach Jovan Vavic's 500th career victory at the helm of the USC men's program with today's 8-4 decision at Stanford. The Trojans made a solid defensive stand at the Cardinal's home pool, shutting out their hosts in the first and third periods to help lock in on the road win. USC improves to 6-0 overall and takes a 1-0 start in MPSF play with the victory at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center today.
THE LAST MEETING
|Long Beach City College||6
September 26, 2009
McDonald's Swim Stadium
FRIDAY & SATURDAY: UCLA LIVE STREAM
SUNDAY GAMES: PAC-12 NETWORKS LIVE STREAM (Subscribers Only)
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. The Trojans returned to the No. 2 spot after an upset win over Cal on Oct. 29, and then USC made its move to No. 1 this week after toppling UCLA on Nov. 12. USC’s last No. 1 ranking came in October 2014.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
USC was 18-5 overall and the No. 4 seed in the 2015 MPSF Tournament, hosted by the Trojans. In a must-win first round game against No. 5 seeded Stanford, USC went to overtime for the second time that season against the Cardinal. In OT, Grant Stein broke the 6-6 tie and the USC defense did the rest to lock down the 7-6 win to move on and keep NCAA hopes alive. Against top-seeded UCLA in the semifinals, the Trojans hit a lull and wound up with a 6-3 loss to the Bruins. Up against No. 3 seed Pacific in the third-place game, USC overcame an early 2-0 deficit and hit its stride for a resounding 8-4 win that all but sewed up a place in teh NCAA Tournament for the Trojans. The third-place finish marked USC’s 11th consecutive top-3 finish at the tourney. As the No. 3 seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, USC powered up to reach the NCAA final for the 11th straight season, falling to UCLA in the title match after a win over Cal in the NCAA semis to close 2015 with a 22-7 overall record.
This year, the Trojans have the No. 1 seed in this 2016 MPSF Tournament after going 3-0 during the MPSF regular season to hold an 20-1 overall record entering the postseason. It’s USC’s ninth consecutive 20-win season. USC is looking for a strong run in the tournament in order to secure a spot and a high seed in the coming NCAA Tournament, where the Trojans look to extend their 11-year streak of trips to the NCAA title match and raise the trophy for the first time since 2013. USC has won nine MPSF Tournament championships to date, last winning it in 2013. The last time USC was the top seed in the MPSF Tournament was 2012, when the Trojans rolled up an undefeated 29-0 record en route to their fifth straight NCAA crown.
In a crosstown rivalry matchup that certainly lived up to its billing, USC put a stop to UCLA’s reign at the top of the MPSF and snapped a 57-game win streak held by the Bruins with an epic 8-7 win in the Trojans’ home waters at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. UCLA had a one-goal advantage entering the fourth frame, but the Trojans were undeterred. USC plugged in three clutch goals in the final period. After a go-ahead goal from Blake Edwards in the final minute, goalie McQuin Baron knocked down one last save, securing a key victory for the Trojans. For his nine saves in helping anchor USC to the big win, Baron was named MPSF Player of the Week for the first time this season and third time in his Trojan career.
VAVIC HITS 500 (AGAIN)
The Trojans’ 20-1 mark in this 2016 season now has Jovan Vavic gripping 514 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 entering a heated postseason push, the Trojans balance of power remains in full effect. Led by 37 goals apiece from junior Blake Edwards and 36 from fellow junior Matteo Morelli, the USC offense has clicked off 331 goals to date. Defensively, USC has allowed no more than four goals in 15 games. Meanwhile, the USC defense has shut out opponents in 33 periods, including at least one shutout frame in every game but three. In all, USC has outscored opponents 331-88. Goalie McQuin Baron has capped up in the cage in 20 games and is averaging 10.74 saves and just 4.17 goals-against per game. As a team, USC ranks No. 1 in the MPSF in defense (4.19 gapg) and in offense (15.76 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 105 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 758 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 (93) who remains on the brink of breaking the century mark. Stay tuned!
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 returned 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. They’re also leading the pack this year, as that foursome has accounted for 133 goals to date in 2016 — 40% of USC’s total scoring.
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 15 and 9 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 (22 goals) and Dunstan (21) are the top scorers of that new crew so far. Freshman Matt Maier is close behind with 16 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.