Trojans chop down Cardinal in overtime

first_imgMaya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanIt was a triumphant weekend for the No.3-ranked USC men’s water polo team at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center, as they defeated No. 2 Stanford 12-8 in overtime on Saturday and blew out San Jose State 17-3 on Sunday to advance to 3-0 in MPSF action.Behind an 18-save effort from goalkeeper McQuin Baron, the Trojans atoned for their lone loss of the season — a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the Cardinal on Sept. 20 in the Kap7 NorCal Invitational.“It was a confidence builder,” Baron said. “We knew we could beat the best teams but actually beating a top three team … it helps with momentum going into next week’s SoCal tournament.”Maya Dondonyan | Daily TrojanIn a wild finish, Stanford rallied from an 8-3 deficit in the second half to force overtime. But USC  had all the momentum in the overtime sessions, scoring four unanswered goals for a signature win over the team just ahead of them in the rankings.“[It’s] very emotional and exciting for us,” head coach Jovan Vavic said. “We had an excellent two and a half quarters and then defensively, we had a letdown at the end of the game. They came back and the entire momentum was in their favor. We were able to put it all together and have an excellent overtime and score four goals.”“We had to avenge the loss at NorCal,” sophomore two-meter Lachlan Edwards said. “We couldn’t score goals in that game.”Nick Bell delivered the game-winning tally on the power play with 1:33 left in the first overtime, scoring in front off a pass from Matteo Morelli that put the Trojans up 9-8.The Trojans played stifling defense in overtime, keeping Stanford off the scoreboard. Following the go-ahead goal, Morelli recorded a steal that led to a goal by Mihajlo Milicevic.The Cardinal had a chance to respond on the power play, but were shut down by Baron, who made several pivotal stops in overtime. On the ensuing USC possession, Edwards fired a bullet of a shot into the net with the shot clock running down, giving USC an 11-8 lead. Nick Bell applied the finishing touches with a breakaway goal.“The first thing was getting our offense going today,” Baron said. “Our offense was on it today. We set everyone up and did everything we needed to do offensively.”The two teams went back and forth to start the game, with the match tied at 3-3 early in the second period. But USC scored five unanswered goals, starting with Edwards’ second tally of the game at the 5:43 mark of the period.Brian Ji | Daily TrojanUSC held Stanford scoreless for a nine-minute stretch in the second and third periods, blocking shots and creating turnovers. But Bryce Hoerman’s goal from the point with 2:52 to play in the third period would be USC’s last of regulation, as Stanford methodically battled back. Two late goals by Adam Abdulhamid and Bret Bonanni for the Cardinal evened the score and forced overtime.“We stuck to our gameplay and kept our composure,” Baron said of the momentum swings. “This is what we trained for, what we spent all those hours in the pool for. You have to be overly prepared so you don’t have to be nervous.”The Trojans followed up Saturday’s emotional victory with a blowout of San Jose State, a 14-goal victory that saw three players — Blake Edwards, Lazar Pasuljevic and Grant Stein — record hat tricks.“Those goals came from work from the entire team,” Pasuljevic said. “As a result of hard swimming and good defense, if you have good defensive pressure, you can go onto the attack.”The Trojans led 10-1 after two periods and were 5-of-7 on the power play. They also forced 20 turnovers from the Spartans and poured on 35 shots on goal.Next up for USC is the SoCal Invitational, where they will likely face off against Stanford once again in the semifinals.“We’re ready for that,” Vavic said. “That’s going to be another big game.”last_img