Water Polo

No. 1 USC men’s water polo remains undefeated with win over Pacific

An all-around team performance propelled USC over the No. 6 Tigers.

The USC Trojans play water polo against the Pacific Tigers

No. 1 USC men’s water polo got off to a quick start and never looked back Saturday, as they surged to a 16-9 victory over No. 6 Pacific at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The win puts the Trojans at a perfect 11-0 on the season.

USC started the game aggressively with a goal in the first 37 seconds by graduate 2-meter Wyatt Barker. Junior driver Hannes Daube followed Barker’s lead, firing another shot in goal for the Trojans.

USC head coach Marko Pintaric emphasized that the win was a complete team effort.

“As a coach, we always expect them to get one more, but overall, the team performed very well,” Pintaric said. “Considering that we did, you know, regroup after the tournament, we did some new stuff and new rotations and overall I’m pleased with the performance.”

USC ended the first period with a goal in the last eight seconds by redshirt junior driver Ashworth Molthen, giving the Trojans a 6-2 advantage.

Pacific narrowed the deficit in the second frame with two goals by freshman utility Jeremie Cote, but USC sophomore driver Carson Kranz answered with his first goal of the afternoon to put the Trojans up 7-4.

USC’s defense made a statement with a series of steals and turnovers leading to one-on-one opportunities. With 1:12 left in the second period, sophomore 2-meter Max Miller executed and scored on a solo drive.

The onslaught of shots continued into the second half — within the first 51 seconds of the third period, Daube scored his third goal of the game. Barker followed, becoming the second Trojan with a hat trick on the day. USC’s defense continued to suffocate opposing offenses, totaling five steals throughout the period to keep control of the game. Freshman 2-meter Luka Brnetic made his Trojan debut, and senior driver Jacob Mercep got in on the scoring frenzy with 1.3 seconds to go in the third, bringing the score to 15-7.

However, even with many steals and power plays, there seemed to be a lack of execution on scoring opportunities.

“There were a couple of opportunities [where] we did extra [and] we actually are talented enough and good enough just to make a simple pass. It would be easier than trying to look, we call it ‘fancy,’ try to complicate things.” Pintaric said. “But overall, offensively, the score speaks for itself.”

The Trojans held their ground during the final period of the game. Senior goalie Nic Porter set the tone by blocking another shot on goal, totaling nine on the day. Pacific posted two goals in the fourth, but that wasn’t nearly enough to catch the Trojans, who held an eight-goal lead entering the period.

As always, Pintaric emphasized the importance of the team over individual performance. This emphasis is most likely a factor in what makes his team No. 1 in the NCAA.

“Porter had a good game,” Pintaric said. “I still think overall the team performance was very good.”

The Trojans begin conference play Saturday when they host No. 2 Cal at Uytengsu Aquatics Center.