Men’s water polo snaps two-game losing streak

first_imgWith five seconds left in the match, junior goalie Joel Dennerley lunged to his left to bat away a 5-meter penalty shot from No. 6 UC Santa Barbara’s (10-6) Milos Golic — last season’s Mountain Pacific Sports Federation scoring leader and already the scorer of three goals in the game.Although the save was irrelevant to the final outcome, a game the No. 2 USC men’s water polo team (16-2) won 13-9, Dennerley’s ability to bear down and focus in that moment served as a microcosm of the young Trojan’s effort on Sunday afternoon.Facing the prospect of losing three straight games after the program had not lost consecutive games since 2007, the team needed to refocus and start off well. USC coach Jovan Vavic expressed confidence that the impending playoffs would help re-energize a team that might be tiring from the perfunctory, grueling daily workouts.“This game was huge for us. We needed to get back on track,” junior driver Peter Kurzeka said. “We knew they were a good offensive team going in and we still gave up a lot of goals, but a win is a win.”Despite the team yielding nine goals, Vavic was not overly concerned about the defense. He planned for his team to review some videotape of the game, but he could not pinpoint any specific areas on which it needed to improve. Several Santa Barbara sharp-shooters, including Golic, netted difficult shots from long distances against which Dennerley — who recorded nine saves — had little chance.Vavic quickly shifted the discussion to his prolific offense, particularly freshmen driver Nikola Vavic and two-meter Jeremy Davie, who scored a hat-trick against Santa Barbara. Earlier in the week, he noted that these two players, who have emerged as focal points of the offense, made mistakes against California and Stanford that they were not making at the start of the season.“Offensively, I think we were outstanding. We scored 13 goals and most of the players shot the ball well,” Vavic said. “Davie did a great job not only in scoring but also in drawing ejections. Peter Kurzeka finally scored some goals. Nikola did a good job in drawing some ejections and made some nice assists. Overall, I think our offense was much more focused than it was against Berkeley.”Undoubtedly, the diverse scoring attack in this game — nine different players scored at least one goal, including Kurzeka and sophomore utility Mace Rapsey, who both scored two goals each — was reminiscent of the games before Stanford and California.During those two games, the only losses for USC this year, the Trojans became too reliant on Nikola Vavic and Davie’s scoring prowess. Jovan Vavic knows that for the Trojans to continue their otherworldly scoring pace and to lessen the pressure on Dennerley they need Kurzeka and other returners to score as they were at the beginning of the season.Next on the docket for the Trojans are back-to-back home games against Pacific and Concordia on Saturday. The Trojans most likely will look to utilize most of their depth in order to rest their regulars as they prepare for a crucial home matchup against UCLA in two weeks.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *