No. 3 University of the Pacific men's water polo team members and a record crowd celebrate a 10-6 win over No. 1 USC on Saturday.
Pacific Water Polo Takes Down No. 1 USC in10-6 Victory before Record CrowdNo. 3-ranked Pacific Tigers defeated the five-time defending champion Trojans in a statement win, as the Tigers look toward securing the regular season title
It was "standing room only" around Pacific's Chris Kjeldsen Pool as the No. 3 Pacific men's water polo team posted a statement win over No. 1 USC Saturday, 10-6, in front of a record 1,337 spectators.
"The atmosphere was unbelievable. I've never seen our pool like that," said Head Coach James Graham. "It was so loud you couldn't hear each other talk. That's the kind of place you want to play in every game and I can't thank the fans enough."
Goalkeeper Alex Malkis made 16 saves, including a penalty shot save in the third quarter which gave the Tigers the momentum to slam the door. Pacific improves to 16-3, 3-1 in MPSF play, while USC falls to 20-2 overall and 2-1 in MPSF action.
Junior Alex Obert scored three times, while Sean Grady added two including the game winner. Balazs Szabo chipped in two, while Kevin Oliveira, Aleksandar Petrovic and Balazs Erdelyi each added a goal.
"This is definitely up there as one of the biggest moments in my water polo career," said Alex Obert. "The fans were huge today. I don't think we could have done it without them. We had the momentum the entire game, there wasn't one time they had the momentum because every time we scored, this place went nuts. They stopped any kind of cheering SC had, and stopped every single run that SC had. The fans were huge."
The five-time defending champion Trojans never led after the first quarter after leading 1-0 and 2-1. Oliveira tied the game at 1-1 with a goal to the upper right inside the near post, and after Mace Rapsey scored his second of the game for USC, Obert tied the game at 2-2 from five meters out.
Szabo tucked a shot inside the near post with 2:12 left in the first, and Pacific never looked back. Malkis posted a save on a turnaround shot by Jeremy Davie.
In the second quarter, Malkis posted seven saves as the Tigers came up with nine straight defensive stops. On offense, Grady tallied a goal to the upper right corner for a 4-2 lead, and Obert snuck a goal inside the near post for a 5-2 advantage with 4:48 remaining.
USC quickly countered with goals from Nikola Vavic and a penalty shot goal by Kostas Genidounias to close the game to 5-4, but Grady converted on a 6-on-5 from the outside to restore a two goal lead with 1:11 to go before halftime.
Petrovic connected from seven meters out into the upper right corner to stretch the lead to 7-4 early in the third quarter, but Davie snuck a counter into the near side to bring the Trojans back within 7-5. Obert ripped a goal into the lower left corner for an 8-5 lead with 5:30 to go.
Vavic was awarded a five-meter penalty shot with 4:54 to go in the third, but Malkis made the stop to his left to preserve the three-goal lead. In the fourth, Szabo struck again as Pacific took a commanding 9-5 lead with 5:57 to play. Genidounias answered with a slip shot into the lower right of the net with 4:45 remaining.
But Erdelyi put the game away on the Tigers next possession with his 61st goal of the year. Pacific was charged with an offensive foul, but a misconduct was issued to the Trojans after the play. Erdelyi picked up the ball and ripped a shot into the net for a restart goal with 4:28 remaining.
Pacific's defense held up as the Tigers drained the clock and posted the program's first win over a No. 1 ranked team since beating the Trojans at the NorCal tournament in 1998.
"We've done so much work as a program to get to this place," said Graham. "USC is obviously an amazing opponent, they've won five [national titles] in a row. This means so much for us, our alumni and our fans."
The Tigers held USC to a season-low six goals, the fourth time they've been held under double-digits this season.
Pacific is now 4-3 vs the top five teams in the country. The Tigers opened MPSF play with the other four conference teams ranked in the top five, and will play six through nine in the national polls in the rest of the MPSF schedule, giving Pacific the inside track on the MPSF regular season title and the top seed at the conference tournament (Nov. 29-Dec. 1 in Stockton).
Next weekend, the Tigers will face No. 9 Pepperdine and No. 6 UC Santa Barbara on the road.
View video highlights from the game at PacificTigers.com
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