WESTWOOD, CALIF. — No. 1 Southern California answered a four-goal Stanford surge and snagged an 8-6 win against the Cardinal in Saturday’s MPSF semifinals. The win was the 13th in-a-row for USC, and its record sits at 22-2.
Stanford made a 4-0 run on the Trojans in the first half to two-goal lead at the break, but USC pitched a second-half shutout against the Cardinal. First, the Trojans had to endure a silent third period in which both defenses stubbornly turned away all strikes to hold it at 6-4 Stanford entering the fourth.
USC goalie Joel Dennerley made three saves in the fourth to anchor the USC defense while Jeremy Davie worked towards a hat trick with two big blasts to break a 6-6 tie put into place by fourth-frame goals from Nikola Vavic and Kostas Genidounias. Genidounias’ second goal of the game was the equalizer for the Trojans in the fourth. Stanford was paced offensively by four goals from Forrest Watkins and received 10 tough saves from goalie Brian Pingree.
Stanford managed a four-goal swing in the second period of play to turn a 4-2 Trojan lead into a 6-4 Stanford advantage as USC’s offense stalled thanks to a string of saves by the Stanford goalie. That Cardinal lead would hold for halftime.
Joel Dennerley kept the Cardinal from taking a three-goal game with a nice save on a Stanford 6-on-5 opportunity to start the third frame, but Stanford’s Brian Pingree made a stop on USC’s next attack to put the ball back in Cardinal hands. After a silent rest of the frame, USC’s Nikola Vavic broke the drought with a blast that cut the deficit to one. Kostas Genidounias then busted loose with a 6-on-5 equalizer for the Trojans, locking it 6-6 with five minutes to go in regulation.
Finally, USC got a leg up when Jeremy Davie plugged in a score out of set to take the Trojans to a 7-6 lead with 4:11 on the clock. Dennerley would put a stop to a Stanford 6-on-5 next, and squelch another Cardinal shot on the ensuing possession after the rebound wound up in Stanford hands. Dennerley’s saves sent USC on the attack with 1:28 remaining. More Aussie heroics would follow from the Trojans, as Davie ripped in another goal for an 8-6 USC lead, and Dennerley slammed away another Stanford strike with 32 ticks to go.