Statement Win As No. 3 Water Polo Handles No. 1 USC, 10-6
Stockton, Calif. - The No. 3 Pacific men's water polo team posted a statement win over No. 1 USC Saturday, 10-6, in front of a record crowd of 1,337 at Chris Kjeldsen Pool.
Goalkeeper Alex Malkis made 16 saves, including a penalty shot save in the third quarter which gave the Tigers the momentum to slam the door. Pacific improves to 16-3, 3-1 in MPSF play, while USC falls to 20-2 overall and 2-1 in MPSF action.
Junior Alex Obert scored three times, while Sean Grady added two including the game winner. Balazs Szabo chipped in two, while Kevin Oliveira, Aleksandar Petrovic and Balazs Erdelyi each added a goal.
The five-time defending champion Trojans never led after the first quarter after leading 1-0 and 2-1. Oliveira tied the game at 1-1 with a goal to the upper right inside the near post, and after Mace Rapsey scored his second of the game for USC, Obert tied the game at 2-2 from five meters out.
Szabo tucked a shot inside the near post with 2:12 left in the first, and Pacific never looked back. Malkis posted a save on a turnaround shot by Jeremy Davie.
In the second quarter, Malkis posted seven saves as the Tigers came up with nine straight defensive stops. On offense, Grady tallied a goal to the upper right corner for a 4-2 lead, and Obert snuck a goal inside the near post for a 5-2 advantage with 4:48 remaining.
USC quickly countered with goals from Nikola Vavic and a penalty shot goal by Kostas Genidounias to close the game to 5-4, but Grady converted on a 6-on-5 from the outside to restore a two goal lead with 1:11 to go before halftime.
Petrovic connected from seven meters out into the upper right corner to stretch the lead to 7-4 early in the third quarter, but Davie snuck a counter into the near side to bring the Trojans back within 7-5.
Obert ripped a goal into the lower left corner for an 8-5 lead with 5:30 to go.
Vavic was awarded a five-meter penalty shot with 4:54 to go in the third, but Malkis made the stop to his left to preserve the three-goal lead.
In the fourth, Szabo struck again as Pacific took a commanding 9-5 lead with 5:57 to play. Genidounias answered with a slip shot into the lower right of the net with 4:45 remaining. But Erdelyi put the game away on the Tigers next possession with his 61st goal of the year. Pacific was charged with an offensive foul, but a misconduct was issued to the Trojans after the play. Erdelyi picked up the ball and ripped a shot into the net for a restart goal with 4:28 remaining.
Pacific's defense held up as the Tigers drained the clock and posted the program's first win over a No. 1 ranked team since beating the Trojans at the NorCal tournament in 1998.
The Tigers held USC to a season-low six goals, the fourth time they've been held under double-digits this season.
Pacific is now 4-3 vs the top five teams in the country. The Tigers opened MPSF play with the other four conference teams ranked in the top five, and will play six through nine in the national polls in the rest of the MPSF schedule, giving Pacific the inside track on the MPSF regular season title and the top seed at the conference tournament (Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Stockton).
Next weekend, the Tigers will face No. 9 Pepperdine and No. 6 UC Santa Barbara on the road.