BERKELEY, Calif. — Bolstered by the play of tournament MVP Joel Dennerley, USC won its fourth consecutive championship Sunday with a 7-4 victory against rival UCLA Sunday at the Spieker Aquatics Complex. Dennerley, the Trojans’ senior goalie finished the championship match with 14 saves, while seven different field players scored for USC.
The Trojans end the year 24-3 and become the first school to win four consecutive NCAA men’s water polo titles. UCLA, the winners of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament, dropped to 24-5. The Bruins were led by a pair of goals from junior Josh Samuels. UCLA had won the conference tournament, hosted at its own Spieker Aquatics Center, with a 10-9 in sudden-death victory against USC in the title game to earn the MPSF’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
In the championship match, UCLA’s Samuels scored first on a five-meter meter penalty shot with 3:05 left in the opening period, but then the Trojans ran off five consecutive goals — from Michael Rosenthal, Connor Virjee, Nikola Vavic, Stephen Siri and Mace Rapsey — before Samuels was able to score again with 2:29 left in the half. From there, USC controlled the contest with tight defense as Dennerley was able to block several of the Bruins’ shot attempts.
Besides Dennerley’s MVP honors, Peter Kurzeka and Vavic were NCAA tournament first-team selections for the Trojans. Samuels and Cullen Hennessy were members of the NCAA tournament first-team for UCLA, Nelson was a first-team selection for Princeton and Graham Saber from UC San Diego rounded out the NCAA tournament first-team.
Second-team All-NCAA tournament picks were goalie Matt Rapacz, and field players Griffin White and Cristiano Mirarchi from UCLA; Jeremy Davie and Mace Rapsey from USC; Drew Hoffenberg from Princeton, and Brian Donohoe from UC-San Diego.
|Joel Dennerley||USC||Nikola Vavic||USC|
|Peter Kurzeka||USC||Cullen Hennessy||UCLA|
|Josh Samuels||UCLA||Thomas Nelson||Princeton|
|Graham Saber||UC-San Diego|