USC Advances to NCAA Semifinals

McQuin Baron, USC (Photo Courtesy of USC)
Nov. 30, 2017

NCAA Opening Round (at USC)

USC 16, Harvard 4

Recap by USC Sports Information

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — The USC men’s water polo team has locked up a 13th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Semifinals after topping Harvard 16-4 tonight in an Opening Round clash with the Crimson. The hosts of this year’s National Collegiate Championships, the Trojans now turn to face California in the semifinals at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 2) at USC’s own Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The Trojans are aiming to push their streak of reaching the NCAA title match to 13 years in a row as they look to capture a 10th national championship for the program.

The first step in the Trojans’ NCAA push came tonight in a matchup against Harvard. With senior goalie McQuin Baron standing as a wall in the cage, the Trojans drummed up a 6-0 lead on the Crimson, posting a first-frame shutout as Baron worked his way quickly to the top of the MPSF career saves ladder. The Trojans had entered tonight’s game just two saves away from the No. 1 spot among conference goalies all-time, and he would gather up a whopping 15 saves in three periods of work to take sole possession of that No. 1 position.

Meanwhile, the USC offense clicked off five goals from five different scorers in the first eight minutes of action. Seniors Blake Edwards, Matteo Morelli, Bryce Hoerman and Lazar Pasuljevic each punched in a goal, as did freshman Marko Vavic, to power up the hosts to a 5-0 lead. Morelli would stick his second of the game to kick off the second before Baron made back-to-back saves to bulk up his numbers further. Harvard would break through with two goals next, but Baron had his 10th save in the books well before halftime as he shut down a Harvard power play. Mihajlo Milicevic would score his first of three goals on the night in finding the low corner to make it a 7-2 USC lead before Thomas Dunstan hauled in a rebound and promptly punched it through to put the score at 8-2 Trojans. Harvard would net a third goal with 1:47 left in the half, only to see Lachlan Edwards fire off two scores from the post to finish out the half with USC on top 10-3.

USC got out of the gates in the third frame with a sizzling score from Grant Stein and then a blast rom Hoerman off a feed from Dunstan to get USC ahead 12-3. Harvard fired back with a blast to make it 12-3, but Baron would have the last word of the third in coming up with a big stop against a Harvard 5-meter penalty shot. He would give way to Will Rubshlager for the fourth period, and the redshirt sophomore issued a shutout in those eight minutes, collecting four saves while the Trojans delivered four more goals at the other end. Milicevic rounded out his hat trick with back-to-back blasts, and Hoerman topped off his hat trick as well, while Sam Slobodien got in on the scoring action with the final goal of the night to wrap a 16-4 USC victory.

In the first Opening Round game tonight, Pacific held off UC Davis 13-12 to advance to the other NCAA semifinal. On Saturday (Dec. 2), Pacific will face top-seeded UCLA at 3 p.m. before USC takes on Cal at 5:15 p.m.

For ticket links and to follow along with all the action at the National Collegiate Championships at USC this weekend, visit the Tournament Central page at http://usctrojans.com/sports/2017/11/23/2017-ncaa-tournament-central.aspx