Looking to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 34 games, the No. 1 USC men’s water polo team takes the short road trip south to face off against No. 9 Long Beach State.
Following a successful Triton Invitational, in which the Trojans (4-0) captured the championship with relative ease, the Trojans will also be looking to extend another streak of their own, having won the past 15 straight matchups with the 49ers. The Trojans also hold a convincing 54-14 record all-time against the 49ers; including two victories last season by a combined 12 goals against the fellow Mountain Pacific Sports Federation team.
Last year’s 49ers team finished 14-18 overall including a 2-8 record in the very tough MPSF. Although LBSU was unable to finish with a winning record, they were able to capture tough wins against Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Bucknell and Princeton, all of whom are ranked among the nation’s best this season.
This year’s LBSU squad returns five starters, including top goal scorer senior center Jeff Greenwood and third-team All-MPSF goalie Dereck Weibe-Bailey. Both will be making their season debuts, as this weekend’s matchup with the Trojans will be the season opener for the 49ers squad that is led by third-year coach Gavin Arroyo.
Planning for an experienced and skilled goalie changes some of the preparation necessary leading up to the match, which senior two-meter and reigning Peter J. Cutino Award-winner J.W. Krumpholz, pays special attention to.
“We watch a lot of video [of the goalie],” Krumpholz said. “Assistant coach Marko Pintaric breaks down all of the shots on the goalkeeper from two-meter and from the outside.”
The team will hope to continue to spread the offense around against Weibe-Bailey, after 16 different Trojans scored to help USC light up the scoreboard last weekend at the Triton Invitational.
“Spreading the ball around is good early on,” Krumpholz said. “Because when it comes down to later games or harder games, not everyone is going to be able to score.”
After playing three top-20 teams in the Triton, continuing to play opponents of a high quality this early in the season gives the Trojans a chance to face off against the quality of team that USC are bound to see as the season progresses and teams hit their stride.
“[Playing top teams] helps us work out some kinks early on,” Krumpholz said. “We are trying to get everyone warmed up and ready to go.”
Although this is a non-conference matchup, the Trojans will be seeing the 49ers again later this season during MPSF conference play, at home on Oct. 17.
Also looking to continue his hot start to the season will be sophomore driver Peter Kurzeka. Kurzeka, who scored eight goals during the four-game Triton, was honored on Wednesday with the MPSF Player of the Week for the first week of the season, the first such award of his young career.