No. 1 USC bested by Stanford in semifinals
The No. 1 USC menâs water polo team is human after all.
Facing No. 4 Stanford in the semifinal round Sunday morning, the Trojans had their 22-game win streak snapped as the Cardinal won 6-4.
USC faced No. 4 Stanford in the semifinal round on Sunday after the Cardinal eked out a 7-6 win over No. 5 Pepperdine in its quarterfinal match. In a rematch of the NorCal Tournament semifinals in which the Trojans bested the Cardinal 12-5, the Cardinal exacted some revenge.
After clinging onto a 3-2 lead heading into halftime, the Trojans came out cold in the second half, only managing one goal score in the half from senior driver Peter Kurzeka. Freshman driver Kostas Genidounias notched two goals in the second period and sophomore driver Nikola Vavic contributed the other goal. On the defensive front, senior goalie Joel Dennerleyâs 12 saves were not enough to stop the Cardinal offense, especially in a second half in which the Cardinal scored four goals.
The Trojans had advanced to the semifinal round after decisive victories over Pomona-Pitzer and UC Irvine on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, the Trojans began their match against No. 20 Pomona-Pitzer by rattling off 15 consecutive goals, as they rolled to a 21-1 win. In the victory, two young Trojans notched the first goals of their collegiate careers: freshman driver Marc Vonderweidt (three fourth-quarter goals) and redshirt freshman two-meter A.J. MacDonell. Redshirt freshman utility Ivan Kustic led all scorers with four goals. In goal, the Trojans received strong play from redshirt freshman goalie Ely Bonilla, who played the duration of the match and registered six saves.
In the afternoon match against No. 7 UC Irvine, USC broke out to a 7-1 lead by halftime on the strength of two goals from Genidounias, who would later add a third in the third quarter. All told, eight different Trojans found the back of the net in this match. Dennerley played the first three quarters, stopping five of the eight shots he faced, before giving way to Bonilla in the fourth quarter.
After falling to Stanford, USC faced UCLA at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in the third-place game.