The No. 2 USC men’s water polo team took down No. 10 Pepperdine 22-7 in the second game of the season at Uytengsu Aquatics Center on Saturday. USC protected their home court advantage to improve to 2-0.
Apart from Pepperdine’s 2-0 offensive run in the second period and a four-minute scoring shortage in the third period, the Trojans asserted their dominance in the game.
USC found a rhythm early in the beginning of the game, and freshman Jake Carter would only need 8 seconds to score the first goal of the game. After a 2-1 start, the Trojans embarked on a 5-0 run in the first period, establishing their offense and taking a 7-1 lead.
Pepperdine fought back in the beginning of the second period with a 2-1 run, led by Balazs Kosa and Sean Ferrari. Senior Jake Ehrhardt and USC limited Pepperdine’s run with adjustments on both ends, and the Trojans ended the second period leading 12-5.
After scoring four consecutive goals in the beginning of the third period, USC built a 16-5 advantage. The third period was a defensive showcase by USC, who held the Waves scoreless for nearly seven minutes and would only allow two more goals for the remainder of the game. USC sophomore Tony Nardelli scored the last goal before the game ended in a convincing 22-7 victory.
“I think that we did a good job making it difficult for Pepperdine to pass the ball around the perimeter, and we also did a good job coming back and helping each other out. We just played good team defense.” said USC junior Marcus Longton, who scored a team-high five goals in the game, leading the team to their second victory on the year.
Moreover, this is a special game for Ehrhardt. “I think it is pretty cool specifically that we scored 22 goals on my 22nd birthday, so I mean this is the best gift that I could ask for.” said Ehrhardt, as he thought about the significance of the game.
The Trojans would take a journey to Claremont for two consecutive games at the Inland Empire Classic on Sept. 12. USC had a 9 a.m. tilt set against Occidental first, and beat the opponent with a 23-3 victory; Then they played against host Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at 10:30 a.m., and won 16-5. USC stayed perfect and improved to 4-0 on the year.
“I think it’s going to be a good opportunity to have a lot of people play. As far as past that, we’ve got a lot of work to do in practice,” Ehrhardt said, as he talked about today’s games. “And there’s definitely opponents out there who are preparing for us already, so we’re doing the same for them.”