Top-ranked USC Men's Water Polo fell to an opponent for the first time since 2011, dropping a one-goal decision to UCLA. The Trojans had won 41 straight games entering today's championship bout with UCLA, this after finishing off the Bruins in overtime last season to take their fifth-straight national championship.
Falling at the hands of UCLA 9-8 on Sunday, the Trojans drops to 10-1 overall this season. This result following an epic start to the season, breaking nearly every record in the books for goal production as the club was in the pursuit to break the all-time record with 44 consecutive victories set during the 2005-2006 seasons under Jovan Vavic.
In the morning's semifinal clash with Stanford, USC fell behind 6-4 midway through the fourth quarter before lead-striker Kostas Genidounias cut the deficit to one with 1:40 to go in regulation. In the final minute, Zach Lucas punched in the equalizer to make it 6-6 and ultimately force overtime. That victory gave the Trojans much-needed momentum and cause for celebration heading into their epic clash with UCLA, for yet another crown.
The Trojans continued their overtime tear against Stanford in recent memory (Taking Home The Women's National Championship in 5 OT This Spring) with the third goal of the game from Genidounias (who tallied five goals in the two-game stretch) giving USC a profound lead they would not relinquish up in Berkeley facing a hostile crowd.
The NorCal Championship match was similarly a tight affair as the Trojans and Bruins went back and forth in the water for yet one of many cross-town battles which should be plenty entertaining this season. The Trojans took a 6-5 advantage at halftime thanks to a score from Nikola Vavic (Defending National Player of the Year) with 39 seconds left in the period, in part of a massive shooting performance agains the Bruins stout defense.
The Bruins opened the fourth with back-to-back goals to put USC behind 8-7 with five minutes left in regulation. Kostas Genidounias would come up with the equalizer with 3:30 to go, before UCLA sealed the game winner with just over two minutes to play. Unlike in recent memory, a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the match.
Jovan Vavic and his USC Men's Water Polo program sets their sights for Saturday (Sept. 28) at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center, hosting Princeton at 10 a.m., then Whitter shortly after for the seasons' home opening weekend.