The No. 1-ranked USC men’s water polo team extended their current home winning steak to 43 games after blowing by No. 13-ranked Loyola Marymount, 17-4, and unranked Cal Lutheran, 22-3, at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on Saturday.
USC (19-1) tacked the pair of wins onto its current overall winning streak, bringing the tally to nine games.
This comes just a week after the Trojans defeated crosstown rival UCLA 12-11 (OT) in a dramatic, come-from-behind fashion at the championship game of the SoCal Tournament. By doing so, USC reclaimed its coveted top ranking, while the Bruins dropped to No. 2.
Another milestone also occurred for a USC player on Saturday as junior driver Kostas Genidounias broke into USC’s all-time top-10 scoring list with his two goals against LMU. He would finish the day tied for No. 8 all-time. Senior driver Nikola Vavic also continues to add to his own new all-time scoring record. Vavic had five goals on the day.
“I’m satisfied with today’s wins,” Genidounias said. “We actually stayed to our plan and didn’t allow a lot of goals on defense, while our offense just came by itself.”
The Trojans would take some time to get going against LMU (10-10), who trailed USC by only one goal 3-2 after a Lions player netted a buzzer beater from half tank.
Like so many times before, USC would come alive in the second frame with redshirt junior utility Ivan Kustic and senior two-meter Connor Virjee bringing the Trojans to a 6-2 lead. LMU’s Milutin Mitrovic would cut the lead to 6-3, but the Trojans would come back with five goals unanswered to take an 11-3 lead into the third frame. In the final frame, they shut out the Lions and racked up six more scores to round out the game.
Being able to shut down their opponents is a result of head coach Jovan Vavic’s recently implemented pressure defense.
“We’re working on pressing a lot and not letting opposing offenses to have time to do what they want,” said redshirt junior driver Rex Butler.
Butler had a hat trick, while six other players had two goals. Senior goalie James Clark finished the match with nine saves.
The theme of the day for the Trojans was “spreading the love,” as 13 different USC players made up their 22 goals against Cal Lutheran (8-13), while 15 different players scored between the two games.
“It was a fun day overall since everyone got to score and some guys even got their first career goals or played for the first time,” said redshirt sophomore two-meter Chase Watson.
Following a short break, the team continued its scoring run against the Kingsmen by tallying double-digit goals in the first frame with 10 goals.
A plethora of players would have multi-goal games led by Watson, who had four. Vavic scored three, and senior two-meter Jeremy Davie, freshman driver Nick Bell, Virjee and junior driver Marc Vonderweidt would all add two goals of their own. Redshirt freshman driver Liam Burke would score his first career goal in the Trojan effort.
USC will head up to Santa Barbara and jump into more Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play next Sunday, Oct. 27, against UC Santa Barbara. Game time is set for 12 p.m.
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