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USC Water Polo’s Tilly Kearns and Nic Porter Selected As Finalists For Peter J. Cutino Award

May 12, 2022

After stellar performances for their teams, USC water polo's Tilly Kearns and Nic Porter have each been selected as finalists for the Peter J. Cutino Award. Considered the Heisman Trophy of collegiate water polo, the Cutino Award is awarded annually to the top male and female player in the nation. Both natives of Australia, Kearns and Porter were both captains and undisputed backbones of their USC women's and men's teams, respectively, in 2021-22. Both programs extended their runs of NCAA Tournament appearances, and both reached the national championship games.

The Cutino Award returns to an in-person event on June 4 at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif. The ceremony will also be live-streamed courtesy of USA Water Polo starting at 6 p.m. PT. The broadcast will feature interviews with finalists, athletes and coaches, plus the Cutino Award ceremony in its entirety. It will air free of charge at and

A four-time All-American, goalie Nic Porter, stormed the USC history books in finishing up at No. 4 all-time in career saves as a Trojan. Porter's 195 saves (11.5 saves per game) boosted the senior to 671 total in his USC career. Porter also collected double-digit saves in 36 games at USC, including 12 such performances in 2021. His 2021 All-America First Team honors marked Porter's second straight season on that list, following Second Team honors in 2018 and 2019. This is his first selection as a Cutino Award finalist.

On the men's side, Porter's selection marks the 15th time a Trojan has been named a finalist for the Cutino Award, following a 2021 selection Jacob Mercep. Prior to that, USC had two 2016 finalists — Blake Edwards and McQuin Baron. Baron won the Cutino Award that year, claiming the sixth trophy for USC 's men. In all, USC's past male Cutino Award winners are: Juraj Zatovic (2005), J.W. Krumpholz (2008 & 2009), Joel Dennerley (2011), Kostas Genidounias (2014) and McQuin Baron (2016).

Back in the water for her second season with the Trojans, Australian Olympian Tilly Kearns led USC in scoring with 64 goals in 2022 — the 10th most single-season goals scored by a Trojan in program history. The powerful two-meter presence also shouldered the bulk of the load in drawing exclusions. Named to the 2022 NCAA All-Tournament First Team as well as the MPSF All-Tournament Team, Kearns also earned a spot on the All-MPSF First Team this year. This is Kearns' first honor as a Cutino Award finalist.

Kearns' selection marks USC's 22nd such honor. Prior to this year, USC had two finalists named for the Cutino Award for three straight seasons. In 2021, Denise Mammolito and Maud Megens were both finalists, with Megens emerging as the Cutino Award Winner that year. They followed back-to-back finalists Paige Hauschild and Amanda Longan in 2018 and 2019. Since the award's inception in 1999, USC women have collected nine Cutino Awards. Past USC women's Cutino Award winners are: Bernice Orwig (1999), Aniko Pelle (2000), Moriah Van Norman (2004), Lauren Wenger (2006), Kami Craig (2009 & 2010), Stephania Haralabidis (2016), Amanda Longan (2018) and Maud Megens (2021). 

Established in 1999, the award is given annually in honor of the late Peter J. Cutino, the former University of California Berkeley and The Olympic Club coach, who passed away in September 2004. Mr. Cutino is in the U.S. Water Polo Hall of Fame. He won "Water Polo Coach of the Year" 17 times. He led UC Berkeley to eight NCAA National Championships. In his career, Cutino also coached in the Pan American Games, the Water Polo World Championships and the World University Games. 

All-time Peter J. Cutino Award winners:
1998-99 - Bernice Orwig (USC)
1999-2000 - Sean Kern (UCLA) & Aniko Pelle (USC)
2000-01 - Sean Kern (UCLA) & Coralie Simmons (UCLA)
2001-02 - Tony Azevedo (Stanford) & Brenda Villa (Stanford)
2002-03 - Tony Azevedo (Stanford) & Jackie Frank (Stanford)
2003-04 - Tony Azevedo (Stanford) & Moriah Van Norman (USC)
2004-05 - Tony Azevedo (Stanford) & Natalie Golda (UCLA)
2005-06 - Juraj Zatovic (USC) & Lauren Wenger (USC)
2006-07 - John Mann (Cal) & Kelly Rulon (UCLA)
2007-08 - Tim Hutten (UC Irvine) & Courtney Mathewson (UCLA)
2008-09 - J.W. Krumpholz (USC) & Kami Craig (USC)
2009-10 - J.W. Krumpholz (USC) & Kami Craig (USC)
2010-11 - Ivan Rackov (California) & Annika Dries (Stanford)
2011-12 - Joel Dennerley (USC) & Kiley Neushel (Stanford)
2012-13 - Balazs Erdelyi (Pacific) & Melissa Seidemann (Stanford)
2013-14 - Balazs Erdelyi (Pacific) & Annika Dries (Stanford)
2014-15 - Kostas Genidounias (USC) & Kiley Neushel (Stanford)
2015-16 - Garrett Danner (UCLA) & Stephania Haralabidis (USC)
2016-17 - McQuin Baron (USC) & Ashleigh Johnson (Princeton)
2017-18 - Luca Cupido (Cal) & Amanda Longan (USC) 
2018-19 - Ben Hallock (Stanford) & Makenzie Fischer (Stanford)
2019-20 - Ben Hallock (Stanford)
2020-21 - Nicolas Saveljic (UCLA) & Maud Megens (USC)