LA JOLLA, Calif. -- The last time the USC men's water polo team played in a sudden-death overtime game, Kostas Genidounias was a freshman. Three years later, as a senior, when his team needed him the most, it was Genidounias' time to shine.
His Trojans were just a breath away from missing out on a spot in the NCAA Championship match for the first time in 10 years. Second-seeded Stanford had the upper hand on the No. 3 seeded Trojans, up a goal with time draining quickly on regulation.
Cue Genidounias. He'd rifle in the equalizer to send things on to overtime, and after a wild six minutes the teams would stretch to sudden death. Genidounias again. His blast would bring the game to a close, finally, with a sudden-death score ending it as a 12-11 USC victory.Now 27-6 overall, the six-time defending NCAA champion Trojans head into their 10th consecutive NCAA final. The Trojans will tangle with rival UCLA in the title match Sunday (Dec. 7) at 6:10 p.m. at UC San Diego's Canyonview Aquatic Center in La Jolla.
But Genidounias was not the only senior hero today. It was Rex Butler who pulled things even with his second goal of the game, making it 7-7 in the third period of play to help put the Trojans in position for freshman Mihajlo Milcevic's go-ahead goal. That marked USC's first lead of the game after over 22 minutes of chasing the Cardinal.
Marc Vonderweidt, meanwhile, had been setting up his team with the first possession of every period of regulation with his opening sprints. He also delivered an early equalizer in the second, making it 4-4 before Stanford struck off and put USC in a 7-5 hole by halftime.
Vonderweidt's wily ways struck again in overtime. Stanford had snagged a dangerous 11-10 lead with just 36 seconds to go in the second overtime. USC was just ticks away from surrendering their first semifinal in recent memory, but Vonderweidt had more to say. With just 10 seconds left, Vonderweidt unleashed a rocket on a USC 6-on-5. His shot tore through to the back of the net, and USC was even again, locked with Stanford at 11-11 to bring up in sudden death.
Genidounias finished with four goals, while Vonderweidt and three others added two apiece.
Alex Bowen had four goals for Stanford.