National championship match, again
Behind Davie, USC makes its way for the ninth consecutive season
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- After eight consecutive years of advancing to the NCAA championship match, it seems as if playing for it all has become a birthright for Southern California. In 2013, a guy that helped them reach the final for a ninth consecutive time was Jeremy Davie, a young man who knew USC was the place for him seemingly not long after his birth. The Australia native scored two pivotal goals and helped a stellar defensive effort that saw top-seeded USC topple fifth-seeded St. Francis Brooklyn 10-3 to advance to the NCAA title bout yet again.
"What made me pick USC? Jovan Vavic made me pick USC," Davie said, a senior. "I wanted to play for the best coach. [Family friend] Bob Horn taught me how to swim when I was two or three years old, Bob told me Jovan was the best and I do what Bob says."
"Jeremy has been a warrior for us for four years," said Vavic. "He was the starting two meter man as a freshman. Whenever his parents come here from Australia, he steps up his game."
With Davie's parents in the crowd at Avery Stadium, the five-time defending champions and MPSF winners overwhelmed St. Francis (N.Y.), the CWPA champs, with an attack that picked up steam throughout the match.
Conference player of the year Nikola Vavic started things off for the Trojans with a goal just ninety seconds into the match for a 1-0 lead and Kostas Genidounias followed with a bar-in for a 2-0 lead. Despite the early lead, St. Francis hung with the Trojans in a fast moving first period that saw just one exclusion called. Vavic added his second tally with 1:37 to go in the first for a 3-0 lead and the first power play goal of the game. The Terriers broke through with a goal from Andras Kovacs to close out the period, but trailed 3-1 headed to the first.
The second period was a defensive battle throughout with just one goal being scored late in the half from Davie. In the interim St. Francis' attack was foiled by three missed opportunities on the power play and some crucial turnovers. "That was the key [defense], our goalie had a big game, he is excellent for us, we were focused on defense, we were helping each other, it was good," Vavic said. That goalie, senior James Clark played the majority of the game, posting 13 saves before giving way late to Aleck Ryner.
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In a game where the Terriers struggled to find the net, these two goals may as well have been worth double. "I thought us opening the second half and third quarter, we made two to three consecutive errors, we lost the ball. At that point, it was a hard thing to begin with, when they went up four or five goals it was tough. I thought that was a pivotal moment of the game," said St. Francis Brooklyn head coach Srdjan Mihaljevic.
The path to the championship match was clear from there for USC. Jon Walters asserted himself at two meters, scoring two powerful goals sandwiched around a score from Rex Butler for an 8-1 lead. Walters who missed some seven weeks this season with a left elbow injury has been a boon to the Trojan attack in his return.
Vuk Vujosevic stopped the five goal Men of Troy run with a goal, with less than a minute to play in the third and USC would lead 8-2 going to the fourth. In the final period, the Trojans picked up where they left on. Butler added his second goal of the day for a 9-2 lead and a ninth consecutive trip to the championship match was in hand. Two late goals, one from St. Francis and another from USC did not factor in the outcome and the Trojans took the 10-3 victory.
With the holidays on the way, Davie put Sunday's championship match in perspective for his team. "This is what we live for, we tried all year so hard, never taking a break, this is it, some people wait every year for Christmas everyday of the year, for us, NCAA finals."