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No. 1 USC Blasts Cal and UCLA In Berkeley

Jan 23, 2021

BERKELEY, CALIF. — The No. 1 USC men's water polo team rang up a decisive 2-0 start to 2021 in taking down host No. 5 California 9-6 and then powering past No. 3 UCLA 12-7 in a double day of action in Berkeley, Calif. USC newcomers Wyatt Barker and Carson Kranz both tallied their first goals as Trojans — three apiece on the day, in fact — while senior Jacob Mercep went big with a grand total of 10 today.  That included a career-high seven goals plugged in against the Bruins. Goalie Nic Porter capped up in the cage for both tilts, and hauled in a combined 24 saves on the day to back up a staunch Trojan defense.

The first competition of 2021 for USC had the Trojans up against host California. While goalie Nic Porter piled up a whopping 14 saves in the game, the Trojans never trailed in the game. Jake Ehrhardt's opening goal was matched by a 5-meter penalty goal from Cal, but USC peeled out ahead on three straight goals to open the third as Jacob Mercep, Marcus Longton and Carson Kranz lifted USC ahead 4-1. Another blast from Mercep made it a 5-2 USC lead by halftime, providing the final margin of victory for the Trojans as the teams went goal-for-goal in the second half. True freshman Kranz blasted his second in the fourth, and grad transfer Wyatt Barker rattled in his first USC goal to wrap things up as a 9-6 USC victory.

The Bruins made things interesting early in answering a 2-0 start by the Trojans with three straight UCLA goals. The Bruins would go up 4-3 minutes later, only to see the Trojans wrest control from their rivals. Jake Ehrhardt sizzled in two goals, with Kranz also getting to the back to net a three-goal USC rally back ahead, up 6-4. In the third, it was all Mercep. The senior hammered home all three USC goals in the frame to bulk his count up to six and heave USC to a 10-6 lead entering the fourth. There, Barker issued his second blast against the Bruins, and Mercep would have the last word in slicing in his seventh to cap off a 12-7 USC victory over UCLA.

Mercep's career-high seven goals vs. UCLA gave him 10 on the day and lifted him to rank No. 25 all-time on USC's career scoring list with his 123 goals as a Trojan.

Tomorrow (Jan. 24), USC is lined up for road two of competition against both opponents, facing host Cal at 10:30 a.m. and then UCLA at 2:30 p.m.

#1 USC 9, #5 California 6
Jan. 23, 2021 | Berkeley, Calif.
USC   1 - 4 - 2 - 2 = 9
CAL   1 - 1 - 2 - 2 = 6

USC — Jacob Mercep 3, Carson Kranz 2, Jake Ehrhardt, Marcus Longton, Luke Wyatt, Wyatt Barker.
CAL —Nikolaos Papanikolaou 3, Alika Naone, Joe Molina, George Avakian.
SAVES: Nic Porter (USC) 14, Anthony Rethens (CAL) 9.

#1 USC 12, #3 UCLA 7
Jan. 23, 2021 | Berkeley, Calif.
USC    2 - 5 - 3 -  2 = 12
UCLA   2 - 3 - 1 - 1 = 7

USC — Jacob Mercep 7, Wyatt Barker 2, Jake Ehrhardt 2, Carson Kranz.
UCLA — Tanner Pulice 2, Tommy Gruwell, Nicolas Saveljic, Andy Rogers, Jack Larsen, Chasen Travisano.
SAVES: Nic Porter (UCLA) 10, Bernardo Maurizi (UCLA) 5.