No. 1 USC opens MPSF play at home

The USC men’s water polo team ended last season on a 13-game winning streak.

Similarly, the No. 1 Trojans (5-0) haven’t let up on the gas in 2011, winning their first five games of the season by a margin of 10 goals per contest.

Their crowning achievement, at least thus far, came last week in Stockton, Calif., when the Trojans upended No. 2 UCLA in the championship game of the NorCal tournament.

With a Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play set to commence at McDonald’s Swim Stadium on Saturday against No. 8 UC Irvine, the Trojans hope to continue their strong play.

USC’s contest against UC Irvine marks the second time it will face the Anteaters this season, as the Trojans won by a score of 11-3 in the quarterfinals of the NorCal tournament last weekend.

Despite its previous victory, USC has been careful about not underestimating the Anteaters.

“They have a pretty tough team,” senior goalie Joel Dennerley said. “Going into this weekend, we have played them a few times and gotten used to a few of their systems. They’ve got a few things to throw up against us so it’ll be a tough game on Saturday for sure.”

Dennerley, one of the team captains, was named MPSF Player of the Week for his record-breaking performance in the NorCal tournament, where he broke USC’s all-time career saves record. The Australian native is not, however, stopping to reflect.

“It was a great honor to achieve [the record],” Dennerley said. “Obviously that record has been there a long time, and there have been great goalies before me. Going forward for the rest of the season hopefully it sets the tone and leads us into something better — toward the national championship.”

Following their 1 p.m. matchup against UC Irvine, the Trojans will host Golden West Junior College in an exhibition contest, a game that will feature many of its younger, more inexperienced players.

“They’ll give us a good run,” Dennerley said. “It’ll be a good experience; hopefully we’ll get to play some of our guys who don’t get as much water time in some of the other games. We’ll try out a few things and see how it goes.”

One of these younger players is freshman driver Kosta Genidounias. After scoring five goals in the championship game of the NorCal tournament against UCLA and 14 goals in the tournament as a whole, the newcomer has this weekend’s doubleheader to continue to add to the team’s successes.

“I felt really excited [last weekend], especially beating UCLA,” Genidounias said. “It’s an extra motivation. I’m even more excited for this weekend’s game, and next weekend’s Southern California tournament.”