Jovan Vavic Named MPSF Coach of the Year; Matt Maier Is MPSF Newcomer of the Year|
Nov. 22, 2016
Fresh off a 10th MPSF Tournament championship and bound for a 12th straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, the USC men's water polo team has made a hefty haul of all-conference honors for 2016. For his efforts in guiding the Trojans to a 23-1 mark and yet another NCAA appearance, head coach Jovan Vavic has been named the MPSF Coach of the Year for the seventh time on the men's side and 12th overall. Freshman Matt Maier has emerged as the MPSF Newcomer of the Year -- the second Trojan ever to score that award -- to lead a cast of a program-high nine Trojans on the all-MPSF awards list. On the All-MPSF First Team list stand juniors McQuin Baron, Matteo Morelli and Grant Stein. USC's Australian brothers Blake Edwards and Lachlan Edwards have landed on the All-MPSF Second Team. And on the All-MPSF Third Team, freshman Maier is joined by senior Nick Bell, freshman Marin Dasic and junior James Walters.
In his 22nd season at the helm of the USC men's program, head coach Jovan Vavic has guided the Trojans to a 23-1 record, a 10th MPSF Championship, and 12th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. USC has a conference-high of six players who are averaging at least one goal per contest, while the team has the top offense and defense in the MPSF (scoring 14.96 goals per game and allowing 4.13). USC also had a conference-high nine weekly honors, five MPSF Player of the Week and four Newcomer of the Week awards and a program-high of nine players on the All-MPSF teams. On Sept. 17, Vavic won his 500th career men's game. Seeking a record 10th men's national championship, this is also the all-time high seventh MPSF Men's Coach of the Year honor for Vavic (2010, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2003, 1996).
USC freshman Matt Maier has scored in 14 games with four multiple-goal efforts through the MPSF Tournament, and owns 18 goals in his freshman season. He earned two MPSF Newcomer of the Week awards, the first coming on Sept. 26 after scoring six goals at the Mountain Pacific Invitational, and the second honor on Oct. 31 following a one-goal and one-assist output in a key MPSF win over California. Maier is the second MPSF Newcomer of the Year from USC, following in the footsteps of goalie Joel Dennerley from 2008.
USC's trio of All-MPSF First Team honorees all hail from the Trojans' power class of juniors. Goalie McQuin Baron -- recently named the MPSF Tournament MVP -- has upgraded last year's second-team selection and his freshman campaign's honorable mention to stand tall on the 2016 All-MPSF First Team. With 221 saves collected this season, Baron has seriously closed the gap between himself and the Trojans' all-time career saves leader Joel Dennerley. Baron now holds 791 career saves at USC to trail Dennerley's career mark of 855. With 12 double-digit save outings this season, Baron is averaging 11.33 saves and just 4.31 goals-against per game for the USC defense.
Baron is joined by two more first-time first-teamers in classmates Matteo Morelli and Grant Stein. Morelli is USC's second leading scorer this season with 36 goals to date, having struck in 15 different games with 12 multiple-goal efforts. An MPSF Player of the Week after delivering four goals in a key USC win over Cal during MPSF play, Morelli's All-MPSF First Team selection is the first all-conference honor for the junior. Fellow junior Grant Stein earned honorable mention as a freshman and now has his first All-MPSF First Team accolades in-hand after striking in 18 different games for the Trojans this year, plugging in multiple-goal efforts in 10 games to accumulate 31 goals to date. He rang up two big goals in USC's upset of UCLA in the Trojans' regular-season finale, and added three more in a key win over Stanford to open the MPSF Tournament last weekend.
On this year's All-MPSF Second Team, brothers Blake Edwards and Lachlan Edwards join forces for another second of all-conference accolades for the two juniors. Blake Edwards was a first-team pick last year, and he stands out as USC's top scorer again this year as he now holds All-MPSF Second Team honors for 2016. An MPSF Player of the Week pick earlier this season and a recent selection to the MPSF All-Tournament Team, Blake has plugged in 40 goals for the Trojans to date, scoring in all but four games as his consistency has helped stabilize the USC gameplan at both ends of the pool. Meanwhile, at the two-meter spot, Lachlan Edwards has come up huge for the Trojans with 34 goals added to the USC scoring onslaught this year. Now holding his second set of All-MPSF Second Team honors, Edwards also was a two-time MPSF Player of the Week this year. He's scored in 16 different games with 10 multiple-goal outings.
USC's record-setting group of All-MPSF honorees also includes veteran Nick Bell along with three newcomers to the honor roll in the Trojans' four All-MPSF Honorable Mention recipients. USC's lone senior, Nick Bell just picked up his first place on an MPSF All-Tournament Team. Now a two-time All-MPSF Honorable Mention earner, Bell has punched up 24 goals in his senior season to date, striking in 17 different games for the Trojan cause. The senior is joined by junior James Walters and freshmen Marin Dasic and Matt Maier on the Honorable Mention list. An all-around force for the Trojans in his junior season, James Walters has drummed up 14 goals to date while standing out as a key defensive force at the opposite end of the pool. It's his first set of All-MPSF honors. Maier -- the MPSF Newcomer of the Year -- has another fellow freshman by his side on the All-MPSF Honorable Mention list in Dasic, who has come up big for the Trojans. He holds 28 goals to date in his first season as a Trojan, having struck twice against Stanford and twice against UCLA in USC's run to the MPSF Tournament championship last weekend. Dasic has scored in 16 different games with nine multiple-goal efforts, and is a two-time MPSF Newcomer of the Week honoree.
Complete list of USC's All-MPSF honorees is below. For the full MPSF awards release, visit mpsports.org.
MPSF Coach of the Year: Jovan Vavic
MPSF Newcomer of the Year: Matt Maier
All-MPSF First Team
All-MPSF Second Team
All-MPSF Honorable Mention