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USC Water Polo To Defend Dynasty Against UCLA

After defeating Stanford in OT, the Trojans will go for a seventh straight NCAA title today against a Bruins squad that has defeated them three times this year.

This is the 1998 USC Water Polo team that won the program's first national championship. Today, the Trojans go for their tenth.
This is the 1998 USC Water Polo team that won the program's first national championship. Today, the Trojans go for their tenth.
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Brace yourselves. Jovan Vavic is trying to cast some postseason magic again.

Somehow, the USC men's water polo team found a way to yet again come up with the clutch goal at the biggest moment. Yesterday, in the NCAA national semifinals at UC San Diego, the Trojans went to sudden death overtime against the Stanford Cardinal. After a back-and-forth affair that remained tied going into the fourth quarter, Stanford knocked in a go-ahead goal and held onto it until the very last minute.

That's when Kostas Genidounias, USC's all-time leading scorer, knocked in a goal in the final seconds of the match to force overtime. After two three-minute overtime periods couldn't decide a winner, the game went to sudden death, and Genidounias once again came up with a stunning goal, hitting a skip shot into the left side to give USC a 12-11 victory and its 10th straight NCAA Championship appearance.

Now the Trojans must defend their championship dynasty against a UCLA squad that has given them grief all year. The Trojans are 1-3 against the Bruins this year, including a home defeat in regular season play and a crushing loss in the MPSF third-place match in which the Bruins won 10-5, becoming the first team since 2001 to defeat USC by five goals.

Of course, USC and UCLA water polo have faced off several times in the past for the championship. The most recent was in 2012, when USC hosted the final. UCLA held the lead for almost the entire match, until the Trojans took the lead in the final minute and held on to win 11-10 and secure the fifth title in this unprecedented dynasty.

Throughout this fall, the Bruins have beaten the Trojans in almost every head-to-head athletic matchup, be it water polo, soccer, volleyball, or...most painfully....football. Can the Bruins continue to conquer Troy by ending its greatest dynasty, or will Jovan Vavic earn his 14th NCAA championship as head coach by defeating his alma mater?

Yeah, that's right. Jovan Vavic is a member of UCLA's class of 1992.

The match kicks off at 3 p.m. PST. You can watch it on NCAA.com.