USC completes undefeated MPSF run

first_imgHaving completed a grueling regular season schedule that pit them against top-four teams on seven different occasions, the Trojans have left no doubt as to which team the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament should field as its No. 1 seed.Defensive · Senior goalie Joel Dennerley and the USC men’s water polo team completed an undefeated record in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play by holding UCLA to just six goals Saturday night. – Chris Roman | Daily TrojanTo claim this distinction, the No. 1 USC men’s water polo team (20-2, 8-0) needed to win the season’s rubber match against UCLA, after the Trojans beat the Bruins in the NorCal tournament’s championship game 10-8 in September and the Bruins upended the Trojans in the SoCal tournament’s third place game 7-6 in early October.Stationed with UCLA atop the NCAA water polo hierarchy to begin Friday, USC spoiled the Bruins’ regular season finale at the Spieker Aquatics Complex in Westwood, topping its crosstown rivals 9-6 en route to capping its third undefeated MPSF regular season in the last four years.USC started off quickly against the Bruins, posting a three-goal lead at halftime.Freshman driver Kostas Genidounias — USC’s fourth-leading goal scorer with 23 goals this season — continued to make up for the time he lost because of a hand injury by netting two goals, bringing his tally to four goals in the three games since he has returned.Undoubtedly, USC will rely on the Greek freshman to provide secondary scoring throughout the postseason.The Trojans managed to play UCLA to a stalemate in the second half, scoring four goals, but also surrendering four.Senior goalie Joel Dennerley was charged with his first penalty of the season, which resulted in a UCLA five-meter penalty shot, for which Dennerley was prevented from manning his customary position between the pipes.In his place, senior driver Peter Kurzeka, who is mostly known for his prolific scoring and had already deposited two goals into the Bruins’ net, gamely faced the shot, but could not stop it.The penalty accentuated an unusual day for Dennerley, who is usually the centerpiece of any Trojan victory.The native Australian and USC’s all-time saves leader only mustered three saves, mostly because of a swarming Trojan defensive effort, in which USC registered a bevy of field blocks and deflected a number of Bruin shots off cage before Dennerley could corral them.His counterpart, UCLA goalie Matt Rapacz, was decidedly busier, turning aside 16 Trojan shots.With seven different scorers accounting for nine goals against a top-tier team in UCLA, the Trojans’ offense does not lack for weapons entering the postseason.Such a diverse scoring attack has made USC all the more difficult to defend as opposing defenses cannot key in on specific players or designed plays.USC will enjoy a brief respite until Friday, when the Trojans return to the Spieker Aquatics Complex to play their opening round game of the MPSF tournament.With a tournament victory, USC would earn a bid to the NCAA tournament as one of four teams and the likely No. 1 overall seed.Even if USC falters in the MPSF tournament, a strong showing  might still earn it an at-large bid to play in the four-team field.last_img

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