USC cruises to victory in home opener
In USC’s bid to make history as a program, it was senior driver Peter Kurzeka who made history himself.
In USC’s home opener Saturday, Kurzeka scored six goals to lead the No. 1 USC men’s water polo team to a 14-3 victory over No. 18 Cal Baptist. It was the most goals scored by a Trojan in a single game since 2001.
The six goals place Kurzeka in a tie for No. 22 on USC’s all-time scoring list. Kurzeka, however, chose not to put too much emphasis on the feat.
“I couldn’t care less really,” Kurzeka said. “We’ve won three championships in a row and we’re trying to win another one. Right now, I’m not worried about how I compare to some of those other great players.”
Even when Cal Baptist had possession of the ball, USC’s aggressive play proved too much for the Lancers. The Trojans allowed just one goal through the first three periods, shutting down Cal Baptist in the second and third periods.
“We really have a good goalie in the cage, which made things more difficult for the opponent,” USC coach Jovan Vavic said. “They were hesitant to take shots. Our one-on-one defense was great, and we stayed with them and took away the goal-side drives more often than not.”
After taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Kurzeka and redshirt sophomore driver Stephen Siri, USC surrendered a power play goal to the Lancers. Cal Baptist would not score again until the fourth quarter when USC sat out most of the players in its regular 13-player rotation.
“Everybody did a great job,” Vavic said. “[Freshman driver Konstantinos Genidounias], our addition from Greece, had a great game. [Senior two-meter Matt] Burton had a good game defensively. Obviously, [Kurzeka] scored six goals which is an incredible effort, and [sophomore driver] Nikola [Vavic] made some nice moves, scored three goals and made some nice assists.”
Genidounias and sophomore two-meter Jeremy Davie missed the first match against Fresno Pacific because they were competing against each other in the FINA Men’s Junior World Championships bronze medal game in Volos, Greece. Despite missing weeks of practice, neither player missed a beat in his season debuts, Vavic said.
The match allowed many of the USC underclassmen to log playing time. Though they surrendered two goals and did not muster much offense, they hung in well against the Cal Baptist starters.
“The [younger players] have a ways to go, but they’re finally understanding the system,” Kurzeka said. “They have the effort and the drive, but it just takes time. It’s a tough system to learn right off the bat, and Vavic is a tough coach who expects a lot.”
This weekend, USC heads to Stockton, Calif., to defend its 2010 title in the NorCal tournament.