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Nic Porter Fuels Ferocious Comeback With 15 Saves In No. 3 USC Men’s Water Polo’s 15-11 Win At No. 4 Stanford

Oct 23, 2021

STANFORD, CALIF. — The No. 3 USC men's water polo team shrugged off a four-goal deficit in the second half by pairing powerful offense with stingy defense to propel the visiting Trojans past host No. 4 Stanford for a 15-11 final score in an MPSF matchup today at Avery Aquatic Center. Down by four in the third period, USC outscored its host 10-2 in the last 13-and-a-half minutes, silencing Stanford through the entire fourth frame. That defensive lockdown was anchored to near-perfection by goalie Nic Porter, who amassed a season-high 15 saves in the win. USC improves to 14-11 overall with the road victory, and goes to 1-1 in MPSF play.

The sure-handed senior Jake Ehrhardt notched a hat trick with goals in the first, third and fourth frame, while junior Marcus Longton had his hat trick in place by halftime as he helped fuel the Trojans early. The score snarled up four times and traded hands four times in that first 16 minutes of play, with Stanford serving up back-to-back goals to close out the first half ahead 6-5. The Cardinal came out firing in the second half as well, hammering in three more goals to put the Trojans in a 9-5 hole at the 5:34 mark of the third. 

Undeterred, USC leaned on its experience. Jacob Mercep got USC back its scoring touch, and then Wyatt Barker whipped in a blast out of set. Mercep would find Ehrhardt for a ripper at the post, tugging the Trojans back within one. Stanford broke up the rally next, but USC clawed back even after Mercep finished off a rare 6-on-5 finish to set up the equalizer, with Hannes Daube hitting Carson Kranz for a slam that locked it up 10-10. USC's five goals in just over four minutes had brought the Trojans back into the game, although Stanford edged back on top with a late strike to close out the third ahead 11-10.

In the fourth, however, it was all USC. Porter was making block after block in the cage, with his defense also stepping up to shut down the Cardinal. Meanwhile, the Trojans clicked off five unanswered goals in that final eight-minute span. Ashworth Molthen's feed to Daube was sizzled in to pull USC back even, and then a Molthen field block helped spark a USC counterattack. Mercep found Ehrhardt for that blast, and USC had the lead for the first time since the early second period, up 12-11. While Porter stood tall between the pipes, Chris Sturtevant took USC to a 13-11 lead, and then Molthen delivered the final nails — first with an incredible shot from distance and then with the finishing touch on a lengthy lob that wrapped it as a 15-11 USC comeback win on the road.

- With a season-high 15 saves today, SR Nic Porter moved up to rank No. 7 all-time in career saves at USC with 605.
- Porter is now 10 saves away from taking over at No. 6  all-time.
- Porter's 15-save effort today marks his 31st career game with double-digit saves and seventh such outing this season.
- With two goals today, SR Jacob Mercep moved into a tie at No. 4 all-time in career scoring at USC, level with Robert Lynn at 190.
- With three goals today, SR Jake Ehrhardt climbed to No.  30 all-time in career scoring at USC, now with 118 goals. 
- Ehrhardt has now scored in eight straight games.
- With two goals today, JR Ashworth Molthen has scored in seven straight games.

USC returns to Uytengsu Aquatics Center next week, hosting UC Santa Barbara in a nonconference meeting at 1 p.m. on Sunday (Oct. 31).

#3 USC 15, #4 Stanford 11
Oct. 23, 2021 | Avery Aquatic Center (Stanford, Calif.)
USC    3 - 2  - 5 - 5  = 15
STAN  3 - 3 - 5 - 0 =  11

USC — Jake Ehrhardt 3, Marcus Longton 3, Jacob Mercep 2, Ashworth Molthen 2, Alexander Lansill, Wyatt Barker, Carson Kranz, Hannes Daube, Chris Sturtevant.
STAN — Tyler Abramson 3, Walker Seymour 3, AJ Rossman 2, Beck Jurasius, Ethan Parrish, Larsen Weigle.

SAVES: Nic Porter (USC) 15, Nolan Krutonog (STAN) 11.