IRVINE, Calif. -- In its first game of the 2005 season, the No. 3-ranked USC men's water polo team battled through a tight first half with host No. 8 UC Irvine to post a solid 8-5 win in nonconference action on Saturday afternoon, Sept. 10. Senior Juraj Zatovic almost single-handedly secured the win, converting on three straight 6-on-5 opportunities in the third quarter. Meanwhile, the Trojan defense managed to silence the Anteaters in the period in order to hold a three-goal edge entering the final frame. The victory puts No. 3 USC at 1-0 on the season, while No. 8 UC Irvine moves to 3-2.

USC flexed its offensive muscle early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first quarter on a two-meter score from sophomore Tommy Corcoran. Corcoran later earned the Trojans their first man advantage at a 2:40 mark in the game, and junior Pavol Valovic notched his first career goal as a Trojan with a swift score from the perimeter. UC Irvine answered back with a 6-on-5 goal of its own in the first, and then leveled the game at 2-2 with a perimeter shot from Chris Peters in the second quarter.

The teams traded scores the rest of the way, with Zatovic tacking up his first of a four-goal effort when he pulled in the rebound of his own four-meter penalty shot and pushed in the score to make it 3-2. Junior Juan Delgadillo also got on the board for the Trojans in the frame, but the Anteaters again evened things to hold it a 4-4 entering the second half.

With the USC defense stiffened and in control, the Trojan attack earned three man advatages in the third quarter, and Zatovic finished off each on to build up a 7-4 lead going into the fourth quarter. Senior Ted Zepfel made it 8-4 for the Trojans in the fourth period, while USC sophomore goalie Adam Shilling shut down all but one last Anteater attack in the fourth to finish with a game-high seven saves in the match.

USC returns to action next weekend in Irvine and Costa Mesa at the Southern California Tournament. Games begin on Saturday morning and run through Sunday's championship game.

USC 2 2 3 1 - 8

UC Irvine 1 3 0 1 - 5

USC -- Juraj Zatovic 4, Tommy Corcoran 1, Juan Delgadillo 1,

Pavol Valovic 1, Ted Zepfel 1.

UCI -- Dreason Barry 1, Chris Peters 1, Nate White 1,

Tim Hutten 1, Andrew Dunn 1.

USC -- Adam Shilling 7.

UCI -- Joe Wynne 5
Man advantages:

USC -- 4 for 5, 0 for 1 penalty shots

UCI -- 2 for 6                

-- Courtesy USC