LOS ANGELES – Top-ranked USC topped off its third undefeated regular season finish in program history with a 10-9 win against crosstown rival No. 2 UCLA on Saturday at McDonald’s Swim Stadium.
Senior Michael Rosenthal scored three huge goals to keep USC on pace to victory in its MPSF finale, which takes the Trojans to a 24-0 overall record and a perfect 8-0 mark in MPSF play, securing the top seed in next week’s MPSF tournament.
USC will finish out the year as host for both the MPSF tournament (Nov. 23-25) and the NCAA tournament (Dec. 1-2), where the Trojans are aiming to win a fifth consecutive national championship.
As the only two undefeated teams in MPSF play, Saturday’s match was the clincher for the top seed in the coming conference tourney. The pivotal nature of the game was clear from the start, as the teams tangled in driving rain throughout much of the match.
The Bruins would take slim one-goal leads early the first period, but the Trojans were sparked by Michael Rosenthal’s scoring effort. He plugged in a pair in the first frame, including the go-ahead goal that made it 3-2 after Zach Lucas had delivered a 6-on-5 equalizer for the Trojans.
Rosenthal’s pulled the Trojans into the lead late in the game, too. His shot with 2:16 to go in regulation broke a late tie and put USC ahead 9-8. Mace Rapsey’s second of the day was the decider as he struck with 31 seconds to go for a two-goal USC lead that proved crucial after the Bruins managed to score three seconds later.
Up 10-9 with 28 seconds left, the Trojans kept control of the ball for the final stretch and outlast UCLA for the win.