At times it was flashy, as when junior driver Tobias Preuss threw a cross-pool, pinpoint pass to junior driver Forest Monroe, whose subsequent lob shot grazed off the cross bar before settling nicely into the back of the net. In other instances, the Trojans used sheer grit to overpower the Tigers, as when sophomore driver Nikola Vavic netted two goals while getting battered in front of the cage in the third quarter.
Whatever the means, it all amounted to a 13-4 victory for No. 1 USC (7-0) over No. 14 Princeton (10-2).
“We started the game well, and it’s great preparation for the SoCal Tournament,” USC coach Jovan Vavic said. “[Junior two-meter] Brian Boswell had a good game with three goals, and most of the goals came from two meters.”
After bursting out to a 6-1 lead in the first period, the Trojans managed to rotate more players through their lineup than usual, as eight players wound up on the score sheet. Leading the charge with multi-goal efforts were Boswell (two goals), Nikola Vavic (two goals), senior driver Peter Kurzeka (two goals) and redshirt sophomore driver Stephen Siri (two goals).
One of the main stories on the young season continues to be the emergence of Boswell, who has been a revelation at the two-meter position after an inconsistent 2010 season. Teaming with sophomore two-meter Jeremy Davie, together they form, arguably, the most formidable one-two punch in the NCAA, according to the coaching staff.
“[Boswell’s] definitely played way better this year than last year,” Jovan Vavic said. “He has been starting for us and has been very dominant in two meters. He knows that he can be really dominant, and it’s great that we can put him together with [sophomore two-meter] Jeremy Davie to really dominate teams inside.”
Throughout the match, the Tigers struggled to establish any offense near the Trojans’ cage, as most of their shots came from the perimeter. Of the four goals the Tigers scored, two came on Trojan exclusion penalties and a third on a point-blank penalty shot. Jovan Vavic has maintained the Trojans’ defensive objective every game is to limit their opponents to four goals or less, because it is unrealistic that the Trojans will be able to post double-digit offensive outbursts every game.
Though senior goalie Joel Dennerley played a prototypically strong game, registering four saves in the first half, redshirt freshman goalie Ely Bonilla came on to relieve him in the second half and exhibited why coach Vavic is optimistic about the Trojans’ future in goal once Dennerley graduates after this year.
“Bonilla is a great goalie,” Vavic said. “He has a very bright future with us — big arms, big shoulders. With some experience, he’s going to be one of the best goalies in the nation.”
With this tune-up match now in the books, the Trojans take aim to win the SoCal tournament for the ninth consecutive year, beginning with a first round match against Pomona Pitzer on Saturday morning in Long Beach, Calif.
“There’s no pressure [trying to win it again],” Boswell said. “It’s a huge tournament to win because all of the best teams are there. We’re all fired up for it.”