Thirteen seconds. That was all the No. 2 men’s water polo team needed to prove that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with this season as freshman Driver Marko Vavic scored, sending the crowd into a frenzy of excitement. In those 13 seconds, the team established a lead it would hold for the entirety of the game before finishing in an 8-6 victory over No. 3 Stanford.
“It set the tone for the rest of the game” senior goalie McQuin Baron said, “especially as a freshman, hitting that shot. I think it gave him that confidence for the rest of the game. Marko had two or three other shot blocks and two or three goals.”
Vavic, who was actively present both on offense and defense, was not the only player to make a mark. Baron, who finished the game with 12 saves, is climbing closer to taking the title of most career saves at USC, only needing 18 saves to tie it. However, the veteran player is continuing to push himself and has his sights set on improving.
“I set a goal limit for how many goals I want the other opponent to score, which is usually four, so I failed that obviously, but that’s okay,” Baron said. “I think the biggest thing with sports is watching film on your opponents. That’s my biggest preparation when coming into a big game like this.”
The Trojans are now 3-0 for the season and1-0 at home and in conference play. The victory on Friday not only was a confidence booster for the team, but also established that the Uytengsu Aquatics Center will be a place that opponents can always expect a battle for the victory.
“It is everything. You never want to lose at home,” Baron said. “You never want to give them that advantage, especially when you play them down the road and you play them at their house and they beat you at your house already. You never want to give them that.”
As the first MPSF game of the season, the Trojans had been preparing for this game for a long time. The program has a long history with Stanford, with an overall record of 65-60, including both times the team met last season. However, USC did not let last year’s result change the way it approached this game.
“It was a great game,” Baron said. “I mean, they’re a wonderful team. They red-shirted five or six seniors, so this was a big win for us going into the rest of our season, especially this early in our season knowing that we are a competitive team and that we have what it takes.”
“We have just been waiting for this game to finally come,” Vavic said, “so to actually just get a win was awesome.”