Undefeated USC inches past Stanford 11-10 in MPSF semifinal match
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Undefeated USC held court in home waters once again with an 11-10 victory against No. 4 seeded Stanford in the semifinals of the MPSF tournament at McDonald's Swim Stadium. The win not only holds intact USC's perfect season (26-0), it sends the host Trojans into the MPSF title match on Sunday.
Big guns came to play on both ends, as USC's Kostas Genidounias served up four for the Trojan cause and Stanford got four apiece from Alex Bowen and BJ Churnside. The difference was USC's united attack from three different Trojans with two goals apiece -- Connor Virjee, Nikola Vavic and Mace Rapsey -- while USC goalie James Clark knocked down 10 saves on the defensive end.
The Trojans never trailed, although the game was locked up even three times in the first half. Stanford's Brett Bonanni had made it 5-5 early in the third frame, but Kostas Genidiounias started the rally as first finished off a pass from Vavic for a 6-5 USC lead at 6:29. Genidounias would then follow up a takeaway on defense with a blast at the post for a 7-5 advantage. Matt Burton took care of things on the defensive end next as USC finally squelched a Stanford 6-on-5. Genidounias forced another turnover by the Cardinal next and USC would go up on its own power play soon after. Rapsey snagged the rebound and punched in the score, taking USC up 8-5 for its largest lead of the game.
That lead held up into the fourth period, where Stanford managed to cut to within one on two occasions. Back-to-back scores from Churnside hauled the Cardinal to trail just 9-8 with 2:35 to go, but USC's Vavic powered in some padding with a 10-8 Trojan lead. Bowen had a fourth goal waiting on a Stanford 6-on-5, making it a 10-9 game with 1:40 on the clock. USC's Rapsey's rebound and swift backhand got the Trojans up 11-9 with 1:18 to go, which was enough to bring home the win for USC despite a late 6-on-5 score from Stanford.
USC now faces either No. 2 seed UCLA or No. 3 seed California in the MPSF Tournament championship match to play for the automatic berth in the NCAA tournament at McDonald's Swim Stadium.