After last Saturday’s win against UCLA, the men’s water polo team will begin its postseason this weekend in home waters for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament. Tournament play begins Friday at 9 a.m. and will conclude with the championship match at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Trojans are looking for an NCAA berth and will enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed behind Stanford. USC has a bye in the first round and will play Cal, Penn State Behrend or Austin College in the semifinals on Saturday, depending on Friday’s results.
A Trojan victory on Saturday would mark USC’s 12th consecutive win for their 20-win season. Last year, the team finished 27-4 overall, winning the 2017 MPSF Tournament and reaching the NCAA final for the 13th straight year. The 2018 Trojans are hoping to continue their winning streak and add a 10th NCAA title to the storied program’s collection of trophies.
Just days after the team collected its 11th straight victory, freshman goalie Nic Porter earned the Trojans’ ninth MPSF Newcomer of the Week award of 2018. Porter had nine saves against UCLA, including a vital stop in the final minute to secure the victory. His ninth save secured an 11-11 tie entering the final minute of regulation.
Now a four-time award winner, Porter matches freshman driver Hannes Daube’s tally of honors to date. Freshman guard Sam Krutonog also has a win to his name, giving USC nine of the 11 newcomer accolades doled out by the conference this season.
The Trojans are currently leading the MPSF both offensively and defensively with 16.34 goals scored per game and just 5.34 goals-against per game.
“We always want to improve our efforts at both ends of the pool,” Porter said. “Our offense has been firing lately, but we were disappointed to concede 11 goals against UCLA last time out. There’s been an added emphasis on defense this week and this is due to the attacking threats that Cal’s team poses.”
USC beat Cal twice during the regular season, and the teams are expected to face off on Saturday. The team aims to claim its third consecutive MPSF Tournament crown and extend its streak of trips to the NCAA final to 14 in a row.
“The team has had success in the MPSF tournament in recent years, so the older players and coaches are familiar with how to be successful in this tournament,” Porter said. “We come into this tournament with a lot of confidence, but determined to play some of our best water polo and qualify for the NCAAs.”