Trojans stay undefeated following Aggie Roundup

A USC men's water polo player holds the ball with his left hand over his head while looking for an open man.
The Trojans won all three of their games over the weekend by six goals or more, extending their win streak to seven — the best start to the season for USC since 2018. (Andrew Kerner | Daily Trojan)

USC men’s water polo swept competition at the Aggie Roundup, winning all three games by six goals or more, improving their record to a convincing 7-0. The Trojans faced three top-15 ranked opponents this past weekend, beating No. 11 San José State, No. 14 Santa Clara and No. 8 UC Davis.

The Trojans started the weekend with a 12-5 win against San José State, a game where senior 2-meter Jake Ehrhardt and redshirt junior driver Hannes Daube both scored their 100th career goals for the Trojans. 

USC fell to a one-goal deficit early but proceeded to fire off three straight goals in a three-and-a-half-minute span to take the lead at the end of the first. After, the Trojans never looked back, as they stopped the Spartans from scoring consecutive goals throughout the match. 

Junior driver Marcus Longton also continued his hot start, notching his fifth multi-goal game of the season as he scored two against the Spartans.

In the second game of the weekend, USC took on Santa Clara and beat the Broncos
18-6. The Trojans had a multi-goal lead for almost the entire game, with the closest score being 3-2 before USC scored 3 straight to end the second. 

Redshirt senior driver Jacob Mercep officially moved into sixth place on the all-time goals list. Mercep surpassed former Trojan Daniel Leyson, currently the coach of UC Davis who USC played against for their final game of the day.

For goal differential, the Aggies kept pace with the Trojans better than any other team this season, but USC won with a score of 13-7. The game was close, with a tied score of 4-4 after three minutes into the third period.

About 11 seconds after the Aggies scored their fourth goal, the Trojans netted eight straight goals to firmly stay in control and win their seventh straight game of the season. 

Head coach Marko Pintaric was pleased about the Trojans performance but said he felt his team desired more.

“We didn’t put the easy opportunities away, and this was a trend that followed the team this weekend,” Pintaric said. “This is something that I’m taking away from this weekend that we’re going to try to tune up for [the] incoming week.”

Mercep would tie his
career-best, scoring seven goals in the game and helping power the Trojans to victory. Senior goalie Nic Porter continued to keep the defense locked down as he would contribute 12 saves in the contest, effectively moving himself to eighth all-time on the career saves list.

USC continued to show its depth this weekend as 18 different Trojans got on the score sheet at the Aggie Roundup. 

“This is a team sport and that’s what we promoted here … As coaches we feel confident that we can play everyone,” Pintaric said. 

This is USC’s best start to a season since their 2018 campaign when it started the year with 17 straight wins. 

Next week the Trojans are off to the Mountain Pacific Invitational tournament, where they play some of the best schools in the nation. 

USC, being the joint top ranked team in the nation, has a first-round bye. Throughout the weekend, it will play three games, but its opponents and times for the matches are yet to be announced because of the tournament style.