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No. 3 USC Men’s Water Polo Takes MPSF Title To Secure 18th Straight NCAA Ticket

Nov 20, 2022

LOS ANGELES — The No. 3 USC men's water polo team never trailed from start to finish in the 2022 MPSF Tournament, securing an 18th consecutive NCAA berth with today's 14-10 win over Stanford in the MPSF championship bout. It was the first MPSF tournament title won by the Trojans since 2017 and first under head coach Marko Pintaric. USC will take an 18-6 record into the NCAA Tournament after a perfect 7-0 mark the Trojans' home waters of Uytengsu Aquatics Center this year.

USC's 12th MPSF Tournament title began to take shape in the second period. Stanford had the Trojans within one on four occasions in the first half, but USC created some space with back-to-back goals. Jake Ehrhardt faked and fired to go up 6-4 midway through the second, and then Ashworth Molthen struck from distance a minute later to nudge USC ahead 7-4. Stanford's second 5-meter penalty shot of the frame made it 7-5, but that would be as close as the Cardinal would get the rest of the way. 

In the third, Joshua Waldoch delivered a key goal off a feed from Molthen to take the Trojans ahead 10-7, and the USC defense took care of the rest to keep that three-goal lead intact entering the fourth. Stanford edged back within two in answering Ehrhardt's third of the day with a 6-on-5 score, only to see the Trojans capitalize on a power play of their own less than a minute later. Max Miller put the work in to get USC the advantage, and then Ehrhardt found Massimo Di Martire for a cross cage sizzler that notched the MPSF Newcomer of the Year his fourth goal of the game and made it a 12-9 USC lead with 2:42 on the clock.

Goalie Kyle McKenney made a big stop for the Trojans, and then Stanford opted to pull its goalie to try for the 7-on-6 advantage on its next possession. The USC defense swamped Stanford's pass into the post, and Andrej Grugrevic turned the Trojan takeaway into a 13-9 lead in finding the empty net at the other end. Ehrhardt came up with an interception later, and Chris Agliozzo nabbed a steal as well with 44 seconds left. As Stanford pressed for an answer, Ehrhardt defused the situation with another empty-net goal to go up 14-9 with 20 seconds left. Stanford would get a lob to go to make it 14-10 with four seconds left, but USC had things well in hand to secure the MPSF title and earn its place in the 2022 NCAA tournament.

NEXT:
USC now awaits the NCAA selections to determine the final bracket for the 2022 NCAA Tournament, which will take place in Berkeley, Calif, Dec. 3-4.

NOTABLE:
- USC has now won 12 MPSF tournament championships.
- USC has secured its 18th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.
- USC never trailed in any of its three games at this year's event — vs. Austin College, UCLA and Stanford.
- USC was a perfect 7-0 playing at Uytengsu Aquatics Center this year.
- USC is now 12-4 all-time in MPSF Tournament finals (USC has won the last five MPSF finals reached).
- With a goal today, Ashworth Molthen has scored in 11 consecutive games.
- With four goals today, Jake Ehrhardt leads the Trojans with 17 multiple-goal games this season.
- With two goals today, Marcus Longton leads the team in having scored in 22 games this season.

MPSF TOURNAMENT
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
#3 USC vs. #4 Stanford
Nov. 20, 2022 | Uytengsu Aquatics Center (Los Angeles, Calif.)
USC    3 - 4 - 3 - 4 = 14
STAN  2 - 3 - 2 - 3 = 10

SCORING:
USC — Massimo Di Martire 4, Jake Ehrhardt 4, Marcus Longton 2, Max Miller, Ashworth Molthen, Joshua Waldoch, Andrej Grgurevic.
STAN — Quinn Woodhead 3, Jackson Painter 2, Jack Martin, Ethan Parrish, Soren Jensen, Beck Jurasius, Riley Pittman.

SAVES: Kyle McKenney (USC) 9, Nolan Krutonog (STAN) 7.