No. 2 water polo tops Stanford as Vavic collects 500th win

The No. 2-rankd water polo team defeated Stanford 8-4 on the road on Saturday, attaining the 500th men’s program win for co-head coach Jovan Vavic. The historic victory over the Cardinal starts the Trojans off as 1-0 in MPSF and 6-0 overall.

USC put up a strong defensive front shutting out host Stanford in both the first and third quarters. Junior goaltender McQuin Baron capped up in the cage for the Trojans knocking down all of Stanford’s power play opportunities, collecting eight saves on the day.

The Trojans took a commanding lead in the first quarter. After knocking down back-to-back Stanford 6-on-5 opportunities, USC’s offense lit up with junior driver Grant Stein hammering in a left handed shot while freshman driver Thomas Dunstan put up a goal of his own a minute later.

The defense continued to shut down the Cardinals with Baron and Stein each knocking down two more Stanford powerplays while junior driver Blake Edwards barred in a goal to give the Trojans a 3-0 into the second frame.

In the second quarter, Stanford put up back-to-back goals to break its silence but freshman Marin Dasic skipped in a pass from Bryce Hoerman, putting the Trojans back up 4-2. The score remained unmoved through the half and most of the third quarter until James Walters punched one in from the two-meter mark, taking the USC lead to 5-2.

In an action-packed fourth quarter, Baron made yet another 6-on-5 save for the Trojans. Following the knockdown, Stein found freshman Matt Maier on the weak side for a cross pass goal. After Senior Nick Bell drew an ejection for a Trojan powerplay, Stein found the back of the net putting the Trojans up 7-3. Stanford put away one more goal only to be answered in the final minutes of play by USC’s Blake Edwards.

“The freshmen are very talented and immediately have been a big help to our team,” junior driver Blake Edwards said. “It’s exciting to watch them grow, and I think we’re going to be a really competitive, dangerous team this year.”

Three of the Trojans’ eight goals were put up by freshmen — Dunstan, Dasic, and Maier — while Edwards had a pair of goals himself.

Next week, the Trojans will travel up to Berkeley to play in the MPSF Invitational. USC faces Santa Clara Friday September 23rd at 1 p.m. Group play continues into Saturday with seminal and placements being held Saturday afternoon and Sunday, respectively.