Trojans complete perfect season with title
Southern California’s 7-5 win over host Stanford in the National Collegiate Men’s Water Polo Championship December 6 brought to a close the Trojans’ second unblemished season in program history.
The first came in 1944 when the team finished 5-0.
Chanting “undefeated” on the pool deck after closing out the win, the Trojans celebrated their first title since 2005, though they’ve played in the championship match for the last four years.
“Defense wins championships,” head coach Joran Vavic said. “Guys came ready today to play great defense. We were not necessarily great with offense, but we did what w needed to do. It was one of those games where every player who was in contributed.”
Though the final score went the Trojans’ way, the result was hardly secured from the start. The two teams traded goals early in the contest, but Southern California asserted its dominance with a 5-0 scoring stretch over the second and third periods, with the defense holding the Cardinal scoreless for 17 minutes.
The title is the fourth for the men’s water polo program at Southern California and the second in four years. Senior Arjan Ligtenberg credited Vavic with preparing the student-athletes for the highest level of competition.
“The game plan he gives us has absolutely no holes in it,” Ligtenberg said. “We know exactly what to do, every single situation. He spends hours, days, months preparing us for this one game, and it definitely shows in the water. He has been training us our whole careers for this moment. It’s great having a coach who knows his stuff and works for this goal with you.”
Stanford coach John Vargas said his team began the season knowing it could be one of the top teams in the country, and the Cardinal played that way throughout the season. He said his team could have been a bit more mobile but added that the Trojans’ defense was excellent.
“I give credit to Southern California, they played well. They did a nice job,” he said. “We absolutely went for it, and that’s all I can ask of the guys. The outcome just wasn’t what we wanted.”
Loyola Marymount won the third-place game, 11-4, over Navy. The game was a rematch from the 2007 third-place game, when the Midshipmen beat the Lions, 7-6.
Southern California 1 5 5 3 – 14
Navy 3 1 4 1 – 9
Southern California scoring: Matt Sagehorn 4, Justin Rappel 3, Peter Kurzeka 2, Jovan Vranes 2, Shea Buckner, Kyle Sterling, J.W. Krumpholz.
Navy scoring: Kyle Wertz 3, Michael Mulvey 2, Kevin Bell 2, Marek Malik, Alex Kofsky.
Saves: Southern California (Joel Dennerley 13, Ben Weil 2) 15. Navy (Brett Rajchel) 6.
Stanford 1 2 1 2 – 6
Loyola Marymount 2 1 2 0 – 5
Stanford scoring: Drac Wigo 2, Cody Wiesen, Will Hindle-Katel, Sage Wright, Jeffrey Schwimer.
Loyola Marymount scoring: Brian Benedetti 2, Tim Hummel, Tim Heafner, Andrew Aki.
Saves: Loyola Marymount (Andy Stevens) 14. Stanford (Jimmie Sandman) 10.
Navy 1 0 1 2—4
Loyola Marymount 4 5 1 1—11
Navy scoring: Kyle Wertz 3, Johnny Meiners.
Loyola Marymount scoring: Tibor Forai 4, Tim Hummel 2, Edgaras Asajavicius, Brian Benedetti, Ryan Fair, Julien Lormant, Derek Milligan.
Goalkeeper saves: Navy (Rajchel) 3. Loyola Marymount (Andy Stevens) 12.
Southern California 1 3 2 1 – 7
Stanford 2 0 1 2 – 5
Southern California scoring: Shea Buckner 3, Jordan Thompson, Justin Rappel, Kyle Sterling, J.W. Krumpholz.
Stanford scoring: Drac Wigo, Jeffrey Schwimer, Ryan McCarthy, Jason Wigo, Sage Wright.
Saves: Southern California (Joel Dennerley) 10. Stanford (Jimmie Sandman) 10.
© 2010 The National Collegiate Athletic Association