First Team All-American Honors for USC’s Jake Ehrhardt, Jacob Mercep And Nic Porter
After a season shortened and pushed from fall to winter/spring, the USC men's water polo team has had three Trojans emerge with First Team All-America honors from the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches. Senior Jacob Mercep now has his third First Team All-American honor as a Trojan, and it's the first round of First Team accolades for junior Jake Ehrhardt and Nic Porter.
Jacob Mercep and Jake Ehrhardt were USC's top scorers in 2021 with 39 and 28 goals, respectively. Both scored in 15 of USC's 17 games played. Goalie Nic Porter, too, made 15 appearances in 2021 and hauled in double-digit saves in 10 of those outings. The trio — also all named to the All-MPSF First Team — were instrumental in guiding the Trojans through an intensely competitive season that featured 15 contests against top-5 ranked opponents. After placing third in the MPSF Tournament, USC made its 16th consecutive NCAA appearance and reached the title match for the 15th time in the past 16 years.
Now a three-time First Team All-American, Mercep has scored 151 goals as a Trojan to rank No. 11 all-time on USC's scoring charts. This season, he set a new career high with a seven-goal outburst in a win over UCLA on the first day of 2021 competition. He was also named to the NCAA All-Tournament First Team and MPSF All-Tournament Team this year, and earned an MPSF Player of the Week selection.
Ehrhardt has upgraded his two All-America Honorable Mention selections to First Team status this season, having ended the season on a serious scoring high note. The junior scored 10 goals at the NCAA Tournament, including a career-high five in the quarterfinals. He'd also join Mercep on the NCAA All-Tournament First Team and MPSF All-Tournament Team for his efforts as he worked his career scoring count up to 89 as a Trojan.
Porter was USC's defensive backbone, making double-digit saves in four games during the MPSF and NCAA Tournaments. His career high was matched with a 20-save effort against Cal in USC's first weekend of work in 2021, and Porter has wrapped his junior season ranked No. 9 all-time at USC with his 476 career saves. He also earned a spot on the NCAA All-Tournament Second Team and picked up an MPSF Player of the Week pick this season.
Due to COVID-19 impacting the ability of teams to compete during the rescheduled men's varsity season, the ACWPC elected to maintain proportionality between the number of programs and the number of recognized student-athletes. Further, the ACWPC Board decided to honor one all-encompassing team for the year rather than dividing selections into Division I, II and III to recognize the student-athletes who competed during the 2020-21 season without regard for their divisional affiliation.