USC Men's Water Polo Scores Spot In 16th Straight NCAA Semifinal
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. — The USC men's water polo team had a hot start and stayed in the driver's seat in seeing out an 18-9 win over Bucknell in today's NCAA Opening Round action at the National Collegiate Men's Water Polo Championship. Junior Jake Ehrhardt hammered home a career-high five goals to fuel the Trojans' push to securing their 16th consecutive trip to the NCAA semifinals. USC will face California in the semis at 5 p.m. on Saturday (March 20) at USC's own Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
USC exploded out of the gates with a staunch effort at both ends, as USC sizzled in six goals and kept the Bison quiet in building out a 6-0 lead in the first frame. Ehrhardt had two in that rally, with four other Trojans in on the scoring action in those eight minutes. The second was a more even battle, as Bucknell broke its silence two minutes in. Luke Wyatt fired back with his second of the day, but the Bison snuck in another to make it 7-2. The Trojans buckled back in defensively while generating two more impressive blasts — from Chris Sturtevant and later Carson Kranz — as USC went up 9-2 by halftime.
The third was a high-powered affair across the board. The Trojans again drummed up six goals in eight minutes, while Bucknell broke loose and added four to their tally to make it a 15-6 scoreline entering the fourth. Ehrhardt already had his career-high five goals in the books by that time. In the final stretch, Tony Nardelli completed his second-half hat trick, and Wyatt Barker and Jacob Mercep fired off their first goals of the day. Bucknell would match USC's scoring with three goal of its own, and the game wrapped up as an 18-9 USC victory. Goalies Nic Porter and Vaios Vlahotasios split time in the cage, clocking in for the first and second halves, respectively.
USC goes to 7-8 overall with the win, while Bucknell finishes out its 2021 competition with a 4-2 overall record.
Before USC and California take the pool on Saturday, the first NCAA final will feature UCLA and Stanford. The NCAA championship game is set for Sunday (March 21) at 2 p.m. No fans shall be in attendance for the entirety of this NCAA event due to LA County regulations. All games are streamed live at ncaa.com. For links, scores and more, go to the NCAA Tournament Central page.
NATIONAL COLLEGIATE MEN'S WATER POLO CHAMPIONSHIP
NCAA OPENING ROUND
USC 18, Bucknell 9
March 18, 2021 | Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
USC 6 - 3 - 6 - 3 = 18
BU 0 - 2 - 4 - 3 = 9
USC — Jake Ehrhardt 5, Carson Kranz 3, Tony Nardelli 3, Luke Wyatt 2, Chris Sturtevant 2, Max Miller, Wyatt Barker, Jacob Mercep.
BU — Josh Yardley 5, Jack Lewis 3, Ethan Jones.
SAVES: Nic Porter (USC) 2 [1st half], Vaios Vlahotasios (USC) 3 [2nd half], Adrien Touzot (BU) 8 [3 periods], Jack Otto (BU) 4 [4th period].