Top-ranked Trojans hope to continue offensive surge

The No. 1-ranked Trojans look to build on their current 35-game winning streak this weekend as they head east to Pomona and La Verne to play a four-pack of games as part of the Inland Empire Classic.

USC (4-0) will take on UC San Diego in their first game on Saturday (Sept. 14), immediately followed by a matchup with the home team, Pomona-Pitzer.

On Sunday (Sept. 15), the Trojans will face off with Claremont-Mudd-Scripps before taking on Whittier in their final game of the weekend in La Verne.

The five-time defending national champions shouldn’t have much resistance this weekend, as their only opponent that is nationally ranked is No. 11 UC San Diego.

It’s been quite a while since the last time the two teams met, which was in 1998. Head coach Jovan Vavic hadn’t even won his first national championship, and he now has 12. The Trojans proved victorious in their last meeting, as they narrowly defeated the Tritons 12-11 and went on to win the program’s first ever national championship that year.

The Trojans shouldn’t have much trouble with their other three opponents. If one combines their last meetings with Pomona-Pitzer, Claremont and Whittier, USC would have an extremely lop-sided, 63-4 advantage. They most recently defeated Pomona-Pitzer 22-1 last year up in Palo Alto, Calif.

“We are not going to take anyone lightly, and everyone’s going to be after us so we just need to play our game,” senior utility player Mace Rapsey said.

USC started the 2013 season off on the right note, cruising through last weekend’s four opponents at the Triton Invitational. They won both of their first two games by 14 goals, defeating Cal Baptist 19-5 and LMU 21-7. Fifteen different USC players put goals on the board for the Trojans, including the first career goals for redshirt freshman Charlie McBee and true freshmen Nick Bell and Jon Walters. The next day, they would display an even more impressive offensive onslaught, tallying over 50 goals against No. 12 Air Force (23-2) and Redlands (27-4).

Senior driver Nikola Vavic is already on his way to winning the Peter J. Cutino Award after leading the team with 14 goals over the course of the weekend. Walters had a stellar debut in his first weekend of collegiate play with nine goals.

“John Walters stepped up and played really well for us,” Coach Vavic said Monday. “He was really dominant in the two-meters.”

The streaking Trojans have only one mission: win a sixth consecutive national championship. By doing so, they will become the first ever collegiate water polo team to win more than five titles in a row. With that being their overall goal, the team might have something else on their minds now through the beginning of the season: “The Streak.”

Vavic stresses, though, that it is important his team does not forget their true mission.

“We can’t really think about the winning streak,” Coach Vavic said. “When we lose, it’s just going to be another loss. All you can do is play against the next team. But if we can win all of them, that would be even better.”

By the end of this upcoming weekend, USC hopes to have extended their current winning streak to 39 games.


Follow Darian on Twitter @dariannourian24