Oct. 25, 2010

Courtesy of USC Athletics

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The No. 2 USC men's water polo team got back in the win column after a couple tough MPSF losses by rallying around a balanced scoring effort to pass up visiting UC Santa Barbara 13-9 today at McDonald's Swim Stadium. The No. 6 Gauchos stayed in stride with the Trojans for the first half and locked it up 6-6 early in the second before USC rattled off four straight goals to pad a winning advantage. Goalie Joel Dennerley had the last word for the Trojans with a bone-rattling save against a Milos Golic 5-meter penalty shot attempt, and the Trojans had their 13-9 MPSF victory locked in. USC improves to 16-2 overall and is 2-2 in MPSF play with the win, while UC Santa Barbara goes to 10-6, 1-2.

USC had nine goals on the hands of nine different scorers before Peter Kurzeka broke through with his second to cap off USC's four-goal run that took the Trojans ahead 10-6 early in the fourth. Kurzeka and Mace Rapsey would finish with two goals apiece, while Jeremy Davie scored three in the final nine minutes of play to finish on top with a hat trick. Milos Golic led the Gauchos with three, robbed of a four-goal outing by Dennerley's booming save against the final 5-meter penalty attempt. Dennerley finished with nine saves in the game, and UCSB's Fraser Bunn had 12.


USC was plagued by a handful of bar-out shots in the game, but kept firing to keep UC Santa Barbara at bay. The Gauchos struck first, but Davie earned a 6-on-5 for USC next and Stephen Siri set up Kurzeka for the tying goal. Dennerley put a stop to a backhand attempt, and USC went the other way with Cem Carak feeding Forest Monroe for the go-ahead score for the Trojans. UCSB closed back with Golic's first of the day, but 20 seconds later Michael Rosenthal hit Zayne Belal with a nice long pass for the score form the post to put the Trojans up 3-2. The Trojans defense silenced the Gauchos for the rest of the frame, with Siri tipping away a pass into set to stop a late Gaucho possession.

In the second, Carak found Mace Rapsey to get USC ahead 4-2 before Golic struck to cut it back to a one-goal game. Kurzeka set up Siri for a quick strike on a USC 6-on-5 nest, but again UCSB moved back in. Nikola Vavic would serve up a pass to Brian Boswell for a 6-on-5 score from the post to pad the lead again, only to have the Gauchos slip in a late counterattack score to make it a 6-5 score at halftime.

The Gauchos would lock things up 6-6 in the early goings of the second half, but the Trojans got it together soon after. Even despite a couple failed 6-on-5 opportunities, the USC defense reigned supreme until the Trojans were able to convert a 5-meter penalty shot from Vavic to spark that four-goal scoring spurt. Jeremy Davie delivered a skip shot to build USC back ahead by two late in the third, and then Matt Burton became USC's ninth scorer on the day after a Davie steal sent the Trojans the other direction and Burton buried his shot to the top corner for USC's biggest lead to that point, Up 9-6 in the first minute of the fourth frame, USC settled in to control of the match. Kurzeka became the first Trojan to tally more than one goal in taking the Trojans ahead by four. The Gauchos ended USC's scoring run with a 6-on-5 strike, but USC's padding was secure. Rapsey and Davie rounded out the rest of USC's scoring, and the Trojans had a 13-9 victory in the books.

USC stays at McDonald's Swim Stadium next week for a double-header on Saturday (Oct. 30). The Trojans will first host Pacific in a 2 p.m. MPSF game before taking on Concordia at 3:30 in a nonconference match next weekend.