Two Trojans Take Spots As Cutino Award Finalists|
Dec. 8, 2016
For the second time in program history, the USC men’s water polo team has doubled up on finalists for the prestigious Peter J. Cutino Award — collegiate water polo’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. For their powerful efforts in propelling the Trojans to a 12th straight appearance in the NCAA final, goalie McQuin Baron and driver Blake Edwards both find themselves in line for the game’s highest honor. Both juniors, Baron and Edwards represent the balanced strength of the USC program in 2016. Baron and Edwards’ selection as finalists make it a group of nine Trojans to have earned that honor in program history.
A 2016 Olympian for Team USA, junior goalie McQuin Baron rejoined his Trojan teammates in time to kick off the 2016 campaign. Early in the year, Baron would climb up to rank No. 2 all-time at USC in career saves, and he’d continue to add to that count as the season progressed. With 247 saves collected in 2016 — sixth most in a single season by a Trojan — Baron padded out his career count to 817. That places him just 38 saves away from the No. 1 spot currently held by two-time Olympian and 2011 Cutino Award winner Joel Dennerley, who won four straight national championships as a Trojan. This year with the Trojans, Baron averaged a whopping 11.62 saves per game while allowing only 4.47 goals-against per game. Named the MPSF Tournament MVP, Baron also claim All-MPSF First Team honors along with a spot on the NCAA All-Tournament Second Team and an MPSF Player of the Week selection. USC’s backbone on defense, Baron had double-digit saves performances in 13 games, including a career-high 19 saves collected in the NCAA title match.
Fellow junior Blake Edwards stood out as a team captain for the 2016 Trojans and a key cog in the USC offensive gameplan. As savvy at scoring as he is at setting up his teammates and providing key defensive stops, Edwards picked up a post on the NCAA All-Tournament First Team and the MPSF All-Tournament Team to go along with All-MPSF Second Team honors on the year. Also an MPSF Player of the Week, Edwards was USC’s top scorer with 42 goals in 2016 to make the climb up to No. 28 on USC’s all-time scoring list with 110 goals scored across his two seasons as a Trojan. USC’s most reliable producer, Edwards scored in 22 of USC’s 26 games, topping out with a six-goal outing against Concordia and a five-goal burst against UC Santa Barbara. In all, Edwards issued nine multi-goal games to help carry the Trojans along to their 10th consecutive 20-win season and to yet another trip to the NCAA final.
Joining Baron and Edwards as men’s finalists this season are Garrett Danner and Ryder Roberts of UCLA.
The Cutino Award is given annually in honor of the late Peter J. Cutino, the former University of California Berkeley and The Olympic Club coach, who passed away in September 2004. Mr. Cutino is in the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame. He won "Water Polo Coach of the Year" 17 times. He led UC Berkeley to eight NCAA National Championships. In his career Mr. Cutino also coached in the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games, the Water Polo World Championships and the World University Games.
A group of female finalists will be named at the close of the women's collegiate season, with one male winner and one female winner named at a ceremony in June 2017 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif.
USC's string of men's Cutino Award finalists stands at nine Trojans: Juraj Zatovic (2004-05 & 2005-06), Juan Delgadillo (2006-07), Adam Shilling (2007-08), J.W. Krumpholz (2008-09 & 2009-10), Joel Dennerley (2010-11 & 2011-12), Nikola Vavic (2012-13 & 2013-14), Kostas Genidounias (2013-14 & 2014-15), McQuin Baron (2016-17), Blake Edwards (2016-17)
All-time Peter J. Cutino Award winners: