Oct. 3, 2009


Courtesy of USC

PALO ALTO, CALIF. – The No.3 USC men’s water polo team surged to a strong road win on Saturday afternoon. Playing at a packed house in Berkeley, the Trojans silenced the crown by getting out to a 6-1 lead on the host Bears, and then warding off any Cal comeback hopes to tack up an 8-6 USC victory. USC goalie Joel Dennerley walled up the cage against the Bears for much of the first half on his way to an 11-save day, and USC spread its scoring among six players to get the MPSF win. The Trojans improve to 10-1 overall and are now 2-0 in MPSF play, while Cal moves to 8-3, 0-1.

Both teams sputtered on 6-on-5 chances in the first quarter, with the lone goal of the frame coming on a Matt Sagehorn lob off a Cal foul. In the second period, Dennerley opened with a stop and the Trojans followed with a well executed attack. Kyle Sterling hit Jordan Thompson on the post for a score that took USC ahead 2-0 with 5:20 on the clock. After five failed power plays, Cal finally got one to go through and get on the board at 2:02 with a score from Brian Dudley, but USC had a quick response. Shea Buckner earned a 6-on-5 for the Trojans, and Justin Rappel rifled in the quick strike to make it 3-1. Dennerley squelched the next Cal 6-on-5 try, and USC went back and had Sterling rocket one through for a 4-1 USC lead at the half.

USC’s advantage would balloon further as the Trojans followed stifling defense with another score from Sterling – this one on a counterattack solo mission. A Sterling field block later put USC back on the attack, and Thompson earned a 5-meter penalty shot for USC with a strong move at set. Rappel punched it in, and USC was boasting a 6-1 lead at 4:06 in the third. Dennerley again stopped another Cal 6-on-5 down the line, but the Bears would make good later and end the five-goal USC scoring run with a power play goal from Luka Saponjic. Cal had the last word in the period as well when a USC play went awry with a Bear steal and long shot over Dennerley to make it 6-3 USC entering the fourth period of play.

Cal challenged the Trojan lead with a score from Spencer Warden off the foul at 5:03, cutting USC’s advantage to 6-3, but USC recovered with two key goals. Peter Kurzeka rattled one around the back of the cage as a USC 6-on-5 pulled even to make it 7-4 USC, and the Trojans worked the ball around from Sagehorn to Devon Borisoff and in to Krumpholz for a booming goal ahead of the shot clock to carry USC up 8-4 with 2:51 on the clock. Cal would manage two more Warden goals before the close of the period, but the Trojan lead was too great and USC emerged with an 8-6 road win for the MPSF books.

USC now turns to another MPSF match with a trip to Stockton on Sunday (Oct. 4) to face Pacific at 12 p.m.

#3 USC 8, #4 California 6
USC     1 – 3 – 2 – 2 = 8
CAL     0 – 1 – 2 – 3 = 6

USC –Justin Rappel 2, Kyle Sterling 2, Matt Sagehorn, Jordan Thompson, Peter Kurzeka, J.W. Krumpholz.
UCLA – Spencer Warden 3, Brian Dudley, Luka Saponjic, Charlie Steffens.

SAVES:  Joel Dennerley (USC) 11,Wil Toppen (CAL) 4, Justin Parsons (CAL) 1.