USC Men's Water Polo's Greek Hero: Kostas Genidounias

Chris Roman- Daily Trojan

Kostas Genidounias could be the USC men's water polo team's next top scorer.

For the past couple years, a greek god has been dominating the waters of Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Well, junior Kostas Genidounias has at least performed like one.

Hailing from Athens Greece, the 6’1 driver is the Trojan’s second leading scorer with 53 goals through 20 games and is the only USC player to tally a goal in every match so far this season. He's tied for eighth on the Trojans' all-time scoring chart.

He currently stands at 152 goals for his USC career with a lot of his junior season still to play. If he stays on pace, Genidounias could have a shot at breaking the all-time scoring record that Nikola Vavic is currently setting right now, which currently resides at 230 goals.

"It’s always in my head but I try not to let it affect my game," said Genidounias.

He has not only been known for his goal scoring, but also for his ability  to put the ball in the back of the goal when the team most needs it. In other words, if their was an award given to the most ‘clutch’ player in water polo, it would be Genidounias.

"I feel like I’m just doing my job and doing what I have to do," said Genidounias. "If the ball is in my hands with time running out, all I worry about is putting the ball in the back of the net."

Most recently, he netted the buzzer-beating goal that tied the game against UCLA to send the game into overtime and then pocketed the game-winning goal to win the So Cal Championship for the Trojans. He also scored the game-winning goal in last year’s national championship game against the Bruins to give the Trojans their fifth consecutive national title.

"Kostas has been great for us when we have needed him most," said head coach Jovan Vavic following the UCLA game.

All of this late and timely scoring against UCLA has created many memories for Genidounias and he feels that his cross-town rivals will always remember him too.

"They must not like me very much over there [UCLA]," said Genidounias." Scoring that goal to win the National Championship was definitely my most memorable experience though."

If there is one thing that Genidounias loves to do, it’s winning, and that played a big part into why he ultimately decided to attend USC.

"Living in Greece, I always had the idea of studying abroad so went online and saw that USC had the best water polo team," said Genidounias. "I then immediately wanted to go there and have never had any second thoughts."

The idea of winning fares well with his head coach, who has won 12 national championships in his time at USC.

"It’s great play to coach Vavic for that exact reason, you win," said Genidounias.

He has already done just that by playing an integral part in the team’s last two national championships and losing just four games through two and half campaigns.

However, with such great expectations, Genidounias claims that Vavic can be hard on him at times.

"It’s challenging because he is demanding sometimes, but it is only because he wants you to get better and improve as a player," he said.

Rightfully so, Vavic expects a lot from his star player because of all the success he has already had in his two years here. As just a freshman, Genidounias was the team’s third leading scorer with 31 goals, while last year, he more than doubled that total with 68 goals, which was good enough for second on the team.

His sophomore season goal total tied for fifth- most single-season goals all-time and also resulted in him being named a first-team All American and All-MPSF first team.

Having accomplished so much already as an underclassman, Genidounias said that right now, he is mainly focused on winning a sixth consecutive national championship for the Trojans.

"I don’t like to lose, and I want to prove that by winning two more national championships," said Genidounias.

Although he is number five in the pool, Genidounias remains number one in his teammate’s hearts with his trademark smile and friendly personality, explained by his Trojan-like march following the team’s last win over Cal Lutheran.

"Kostas is a fun guy to be around and is a great teammate," said redshirt sophomore Mac Carden.

Once his four years at USC are up, Genidounias, who is majoring in communication, plans to head back to his home land of Greece to play professional water polo and try out for the olympic team.

Genidounias may be the nicest guy one will meet on land, but it is evident that he is a force to be reckoned with in the water. If he continues to play the way he has, Genidounias could very well possibly be a front runner to win the Peter J. Cutino Award next season to go along with winning another pair of national titles for the Trojans.

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