No. 1 USC finds stride versus No. 17 Cal Baptist in the fourth period
LOS ANGELES -- No. 1 USC shut out visiting No. 17 Cal Baptist in the fourth period of the Trojans' home opener Saturday, successfully defending McDonald's Swim Stadium with a 13-4 victory against the Lancers. A stifling USC defense anchored by goalie Ely Bonilla backed up the Trojan cause, which overcame a tight start before going on to score five consecutive goals to end the game. USC improves to 4-0 on the year with the win, while Cal Baptist goes to 0-3.
The USC offense misfired on several occasions in the early goings of the game, but behind the veteran scoring talents of Matt Burton and Nikola Vavic, the Trojans powered on. Vavic finished with four goals on the day, with Burton adding a hat trick to charge up the Trojans.
Burton struck in the first minute of action, and after a lapse of four minutes, Vavic stuck one nearside for a 2-0 USC lead. The Lancers tightened it up on a goal from distance by Keith Jizmejian to make it 2-1 at the two-minute mark, but some smooth passing and a finish inside by Jack Plaga in the final minute sparked a USC surge in the second frame.
USC plugged in three straight goals -- a 5-meter penalty from Vavic, a two-meter strike from Chase Watson and a Mace Rapsey 6-on-5 skipper -- to take a 6-1 lead on the Lancers. CBU got a 6-on-5 of its own to go in the final minute of the half, however, making it 6-2 at the break on Scott Gleason's power play score.
Gleason would tally two more for the Lancers on a lob and a 5-meter penalty score during the third period of play, but USC had opened the frame with Vavic's third of the day and a bullet from Kostas Genidounias to pad the Trojan lead early. After Gleason's goals made it 8-4, it was all USC the rest of the way. The Trojan defense continued to nab steals and throw field blocks in the way of the CBU offense, while the Trojans clicked off five consecutive scores.
The spark was a Plaga 6-on-5 strike set up by Burton in the final minute. After Plaga's score made it 9-4 Trojans, USC pitched a shutout in the fourth frame while knocking in four more goals. Rex Butler hit Burton for a score from the hole to make it 10-4, and some slick passing on a USC 6-on-5 fed the ball through Rapsey and Genidounias to find Vavic for the finish on the junior's fourth of the day. The Trojan defense swamped a CBU 6-on-5 chance later, and Vavic would go on to get USC up on a 6-on-5 at the other end soon after. That one was topped off by Rapsey, who took a feed from Connor Virjee and ripped it to the back of the net to make it 12-4 Trojans. One last series worked the ball through Vavic to Michael Rosenthal and into the hands of Burton on the post once again for the senior's hat trick that closed out the 13-4 win for the Trojans.