If these last two games are any indication, reigning Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week sophomore two-meter Jeremy Davie might be hitting his stride as he recorded his second consecutive hat-trick, as No. 2 USC (13-2, 4-0) topped No. 5 Santa Barbara 10-6.
“[Davie] had a rough time in Junior Worlds, as his coach really didn’t play him as much as he should’ve played him,” USC coach Jovan Vavic said. “I think he was a little frustrated with that, and then kind of got out of shape just because he wasn’t playing that much. He needed some time with us just to get his confidence back. He’s certainly an outstanding player.”
In addition to Davie’s exploits, the victory can be attributed to the Trojans’ focus on improving man-down defense and man-up offense. USC won handily because it squashed the Gauchos’ power play chances and capitalized on its own odd-man advantage opportunities.
“We’ve spent a lot of time these past couple of weeks improving our six-on-five and five-on-six play, and it really clicked today,” Vavic said. “That was the best part of our game; we were six out of eight on those opportunities. Our man-down defense was excellent. We gave up three goals out of 11 chances.”
Upon recounting who played well, Vavic praised a number of players. The first he mentioned, senior driver Peter Kurzeka, notched two goals to add to his team total of 26 for the season. The second player he singled out, redshirt junior driver Forest Monroe, is usually tabbed for his defensive excellence, but Monroe also contributed offensively on the afternoon with two crucial goals.
“Kurzeka had a great game, and Monroe, who usually doesn’t score too much for us, scored two big goals on great outside shots,” Vavic said. “Those were really a big boost for our team.”
Rounding out the standout players in the game were sophomore driver Nikola Vavic, who, in addition to notching a goal, registered two assists and junior two-meter Brian Boswell, who not only drew three ejections that later turned into goals but chipped in a score of his own.
“We played with quite a bit of intensity,” Vavic said. “I thought our defense was pretty good most of the game, and we played tough. We played a smart, physical game.”
On Saturday at the McDonald’s Swim Stadium at 2:30 p.m., the Trojans have a chance to exact revenge against Stanford for a loss in the SoCal tournament semifinals.