National Player of the Year McQuin Baron Leads Seven Trojan All-Americans|
Dec. 19, 2016
After a 24-2 season that saw the Trojans win the MPSF Championship and roll up their 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA final, USC men’s water polo locks in with seven Trojans on the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches All-America list for 2016. For the 10th time in program history, USC has staked a claim on the National Player of the Year award. Junior goalie McQuin Baron becomes the eighth Trojan to earn that honor, and the second USC goalie to be selected as the National Player of the Year by the. Baron also picks up a spot on the ACWPC All-America First Team, where he is joined by fellow junior and fellow Cutino Award finalist Blake Edwards. Five more Trojans are on the All-America list, with junior Matteo Morelli earning a place on the All-America Second Team. Two more juniors — Lachlan Edwards and Grant Stein — are on the All-America Third Team. And on the All-America Honorable Mention list are senior Nick Bell and freshman Matt Maier.
Junior goalie McQuin Baron follows in the footsteps of seven previous Trojans to be named National Player of the Year — Marko Pintaric (1998), Juraj Zatovic (2005), Juan Delgadillo (2006), J.W. Krumpholz (2008 & 2009), Joel Dennerley (2011), Nikola Vavic (2012 & 2013) and Kostas Genidounias (2014). A 2016 Olympian for Team USA, 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 and is the only other USC goalie to be named the National Player of the Year. 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. Baron was named to the All-America Second Team as a freshman and sophomore to set the stage for this step up to the All-America First Team for 2016.
Fellow junior Blake Edwards stood out as a team captain for the 2016 Trojans and a key cog in the USC offensive gameplan as he now holds his second straight selection to the All-America First Team. 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.
Baron and Blake Edwards are both finalists for the prestigious Peter J. Cutino Award, to be announced in June 2017.
For junior Matteo Morelli, this year’s All-America Second Team selection is an upgrade from the Honorable Mention status he earned last season as a sophomore. No. 2 on USC’s scoresheet in 2016, Morelli drilled 37 goals this season and climbed the USC career scoring charts to now hold 110 career goals. Morelli struck in 16 games with 12 multiple-goal outings. He landed a place on the All-MPSF First Team this year, and was selected MPSF Player of the Week on Oct. 31 after punching up four goals in a key MPSF win over California.
Juniors Lachlan Edwards and Grant Stein also have another set of All-America accolades to their names following this year’s pick to the All-America Third Team. Edwards matched Morelli’s tally with 37 goals on the year, second best on the team, and racked up numerous awards along the way. Named to the NCAA All-Tournament First Team and All-MPSF Second Team, Edwards was twice selected as MPSF Player of the Week. As a sophomore, he earned his first All-America honors with a spot on the Second Team. This year, Edwards scored in 18 games with 11 multiple-goal efforts, including a hat trick in a key win over Pacific. Edwards also pumped up his career count this season, breaking the 100-goal barrier to currently sit at No. 33 all-time with 108 career goals. Fellow junior Stein also cracked that 100-goal mark this season, tallying 32 goals on the year to stand as the No. 3 scorer on the team. His career count climbed to 110, losing him even with fellow All-America honorees Blake Edwards and Morelli. Stein was named to the All-MPSF First Team this year. Last season, Stein picked up All-America Honorable Mention as a sophomore.
This year’s All-American Honorable Mention recipients represent the breadth of experience on the Trojan roster. Senior Nick Bell now has his third All-America honor in-hand as he wraps his Trojan career. Freshman Matt Maier — named the MPSF Newcomer of the Year — joins the senior on the All-America honor roll as he opens up his time as a Trojan. An NCAA champion as a freshman, Bell scored 26 goals this season and collected All-MPSF Honorable Mention as well as spots on the NCAA All-Tournament Second Team and the MPSF All-Tournament team in his final year at Troy. Maier came up with huge goals for the Trojans all season long, finishing up with 21 goals on the year while securing All-MPSF Honorable Mention and a pair of MPSF Newcomer of the Week awards to set up his emergence as the MPSF Newcomer of the Year.
All but Bell will return to the pool for the Trojans next season as USC looks to make yet another run to the NCAA final and finish out 2017 with the program’s 10th national championship.
USC’s 2016 ACWPC ALL-AMERICANS