In uncharacteristic fashion, USC stumbled out of the gate on Saturday afternoon, allowing No. 9 Loyola Marymount to jump out to a 1-0 lead that held up through the end of the first quarter.
The No. 1 Trojans kept their composure and recovered quickly, however, routing the Lions 13-6.
“We missed some open looks early,” USC coach Jovan Vavic said. “We just need to do a better job in starting the game with a little more focus. I think a couple of players maybe took the game a little too lightly. We were a little too relaxed. But we got it going in the second quarter.”
In the second quarter, the Trojans began their scoring onslaught with a goal from their most prolific scorer, junior driver Nikola Vavic.
Led by redshirt sophomore goalie Ely Bonilla, the defense battened down the hatches and shut out LMU during the first period, and a total of five different players netted goals for USC to give the team a 5-1 lead heading into halftime.
“Our defense did a good job,” Jovan Vavic said. “We made some big stops in 5-on-6 defense when we needed to. Ely did a very good job.”
Power play execution was the key in the second quarter, as sophomore driver Marc Vonderweidt and senior two-meter Matt Burton each converted on 6-on-5 chances. Goals by freshman two-meter Mac Carden and sophomore driver Kostas Genidounias pushed the lead to four goals.
Jovan Vavic praised his third rotation in particular, which he described as his “thirteen through seventeen” players on the depth chart.
“Our third rotation did a great job,” Jovan Vavic said. “They did an excellent job in playing with much more energy than our first and second units and gave us the lead.”
In the second half, the Trojans struck first with Nikola Vavic’s second goal of the game. Following an LMU goal that broke a 6-0 scoring run, Vavic struck again with a goal that would start another USC run. Burton tallied his second goal of the day thanks to a pass from the younger Vavic and junior driver Stephen Siri joined the scoring action to push the lead to 8-2.
Following another LMU goal, USC capped off the busy third quarter with goals from Genidounias and sophomore driver Rex Butler to give the Trojans an 11-3 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The final frame featured five goals total — three for LMU and two for USC. Carden scored his second of the game and junior utility Mace Rapsey tacked one on, becoming the eighth different player to score for the Trojans.
Though Jovan Vavic was pleased with the way his team responded after falling behind, he expressed displeasure with the team’s subpar effort and indicated that changes to the lineup could come if their play did not improve.
“We have a very competitive group of guys,” Jovan Vavic said. “Some of the guys who played well this past game are excited and fired up about getting back to training. The guys who were a little lackadaisical on Friday will have to pick it up or they are going to lose some playing time.”
The Trojans’ next game is Friday against Long Beach State in Long Beach, Calif. at 7 p.m.