No. 1 men’s water polo followed its dominant performance at the Lancer Joust this past weekend with a commanding 16-2 victory over No. 5 UC Santa Barbara on Sunday.
The weekend kicked off with a match against tournament host Cal Baptist, which put up early points before USC scored 4 consecutive goals to gain a 7-2 advantage. Aided by seven saves from freshman keeper Nic Porter, the Trojans extended their lead in the second half, besting the Lancers 15-6.
In USC’s second game of the invite against La Verne, the Trojans asserted control over the game from the opening whistle, as six different Trojans buried goals in just over four minutes. Drivers senior Zach D’Sa, sophomore Marko Vavic and redshirt sophomore utility Luka Karaman topped the score sheet with hat tricks, propelling the Trojans to a 28-4 victory over the Leopards.
On Saturday, the Men of Troy concluded their strong performance at the Lancer Joust with victories against Concordia and Redlands. After scoring the first 10 goals of the game, the Trojans ended with an 18-5 advantage against Concordia. With redshirt freshman keeper Matt Moran-Flores in the cage, the USC defense secured a shutout against Redlands with a final score of 14-0.
After their successful campaign in Riverside, the Trojans returned home to face No. 5 UC Santa Barbara. USC defeated the Gauchos 10-3 in tournament play earlier this season.
“Last time [USC played Santa Barbara], it was more of a tournament setting, so we knew they would be a tougher opponent,” Vavic said. “But this time we really locked in all weekend for them. We were training for them before our other games [on Friday and Saturday].”
Sunday’s scoring began with a power play, during which freshman driver Hannes Daube netted a goal for the Trojans.
USC responded to the Gauchos’ offensive pressure by putting up 3 more goals by the end of the first period. The Trojans’ momentum continued throughout the second period, including 2 goals and a set-up by Daube to put the Trojans up 8-1. Redshirt junior driver Daniel Leong blocked a UCSB 6-on-5 attack, which the Trojans then turned around for a counterattack goal.
After posting a 10-1 halftime lead, the Trojans started the third period with a bang as Daube’s interception led to Vavic’s 3rd goal of the match. The Men of Troy boasted 11 consecutive scores before the Gauchos broke their silence at the end of the third, scoring on a 6-on-5.
Porter entered the game in the fourth quarter, supplementing Krutonog’s 12 saves with five of his own. In the final frame, the Trojans scored 2 more goals and shut out UCSB to close out a 16-2 victory.
“We learned to put away our high-percentage opportunities,” Vavic said. “Over the weekend, we had a lot of 1-on-1s, 2-on-1s. In the big games you have to finish those.”
The Trojans will head to Palo Alto to take on Stanford on Saturday before returning for a home match against San Jose State on Sunday.