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No. 2 USC Men’s Water Polo Takes Second Place At Triton Invite

Sep 4, 2022

LA JOLLA, CALIF. — The No. 2 USC men's water polo team wrapped it's first tournament of 2022 with a second-pace finish after a 12-8 semifinal win over No. 10 Pepperdine was followed by an 8-6 loss to No. 3 UCLA today in the title match at the Triton Invitational. The Trojans' weekend work in La Jolla puts them at 3-1 overall in these early goings of the 2022 campaign.

In the semifinal against the Waves, the Trojans struck first, only to have Pepperdine answer two minutes later. That prompted a four-goal rally by USC, with four Trojans striking that surge to a 5-1 advantage in the second frame. Andrej Grgurevic sparked the run in the first  period, with  Marcus Longton faking and firing next to get USC up 3-1. In the third, Ashworth Molthen issued a laser to make it 4-1, and then a Longton interception set him and Tony Nardelli off on a counterattack  finished off by some nice teamwork as Nardelli buried it to tack up that 5-1 lead. Pepperdine stopped the run with an even score, but Massimo Di Martire's second of the day got USC a 6-2 advantage that held through to halftime. USC would unleash a dominating effort in those next eight minutes, with Di Martire wrapping two fierce blasts around a 6-on-5 finish by the Waves to get the Italian newcomer to four goals in the game. Jake Carter struck next, and Longton catapulted in his second to  make it 10-3 Trojans. After another  power play conversion by  the Waves, Joshua Waldoch had the last word of the third with a sneaky backhand, and USC carried an 11-4 lead into the fourth. Goalie Kyle McKenney's save count ballooned to 13 by the  final buzzer, and the Trojans emerged with a 12-8 decision to propel themselves into the title match against the Bruins.

Just a few hours after wrapping that semi, USC would hit the pool again for its first meeting of the year against crosstown rival UCLA. Both defenses proved stingy in the first half, as goalies held their ground. UCLA benefited from a bar-in score in the first period to edge ahead  1-0, but USC goalie Blake Jackson snubbed numerous other dangerous UCLA attacks. The Bruins found a crack in the second to go up 2-0 on the Trojans, who finally broke through on a nifty finish from Massimo Di Martire on a 6-on-5 assist from Chris Sturtevant just before halftime. USC pulled even early in the third when Luka Brnetic hit Ashworth Molthen for a ripper that snarled it at 2-2. UCLA, however, manufactured back-to-back goals next to get back ahead before USC got one back. After drawing the exclusion, Carson Kranz hammered home a feed from Di  Martire to make it 4-3. The Bruins would wrap goals around a sizzling Marcus Longton rocket, and it was 6-4 UCLA  entering the fourth. The Trojans were unable to reel in the Burins in that final stretch, matching UCLA goal-for-goal as Kranz and Jake Ehrhardt each answered UCLA scores to wrap the game as an 8-6 Bruin win.

NEXT:
USC has another busy week ahead, highlighted by USC's first home competition in a doubleheader on Thursday (Sept. 8) at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. There, USC hosts Long Beach State at 5 p.m. and Golden West at 6:30 p.m. And on Saturday (Sept. 10). USC is off to Claremont to face the host Stags at 10:10 a.m. followed by  a 1 p.m. clash with Pomona-Pitzer.

NOTABLE:
- Newcomer Massimo Di Martire set his USC career high with four goals vs. Pepperdine.
- Kyle McKenney set a new USC career high with 13 saves in his complete-game effort vs. Pepperdine.
- Jake Ehrhardt now stands alone at No. 25 all-time in scoring at USC with 128 career goals.
- Both Di Martire and Marcus Longton scored in all four Triton Invitational games, finishing with nine and eight goals, respectively.

TRITON INVITATIONAL

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#3 UCLA 8, #2 USC 6
Sept. 4, 2022 | Canyonview Aquatic Center (La Jolla, Calif.)
USC    0 - 1 - 3 - 2 = 6
UCLA  1 - 1 - 4 - 2 =  8

SCORING:
USC — Carson Kranz 2, Massimo Di Martire, Ashworth Molthen, Marcus Longton, Jake Ehrhardt.
UCLA — Jake Cavano 2, Gabe Disculpo, Gianpiero Di Martire, Andy Rodgers, Jack Larsen, Hayden Nightingale, Tommy Gruwell.

SAVES: Blake Jackson (USC) 11, Bernardo Maurizi (UCLA) 10.

SEMIFINAL
#2 USC 12, #10 Pepperdine 8
Sept. 4, 2022 | Canyonview Aquatic Center (La Jolla, Calif.)
USC  3 - 3 - 5 - 1 = 12
PEP   1 - 1 - 2 - 4 = 8

SCORING:
USC — Massimo De Martire 4, Marcus Longton 2, Ashworth Molthen 2, Andrej Grgurevic, Tony Nardelli, Jake Carter, Joshua Waldoch.
PEP — Curtis Jarvis 2, Dennis Blyashov 2, Nicholas Fichman, Adam Csapo, Clay Kaneko, Matty Walsh.

SAVES: Kyle McKenney (USC) 13, Zach Cwiertnia (PEP) 11.