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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

FIVE-PEAT! Men's Water Polo Wins Championship

ATVN's Reid Silverman recaps the Trojans incredible 11-10 victory over UCLA to win their fifth straight National Championship.

The top-seeded Trojans grinded out 11-10 victory against crosstown rival No. 2 UCLA late Sunday afternoon before a pumped up home crowd at McDonald’s Swim Stadium.  The victory sealed a perfect 29-0 season.

It was a dramatic finish to a match that was already heated in the pool between two rivals.

This was USC’s (29-0) third win over the Bruins (28-5) this season. Each game was decided by one goal.

The NCAA Championship game came down to the wire as Kostas Genidounias scored with 40 seconds to play. The sophmore’s late goal was his only in the game, coming off a clutch play after a time out. Senior captain Matt Burton opened up Genidounias for the game winner.

USC fans at McDonald’s Swim Stadium could feel a fifth consecutive national title as the crowd was chanting “USC! USC! USC!” At the same time UCLA fans knew there was time on the clock to tie the game.

It wasn’t until USC’s Mace Rapsey intercepted a pass in UCLA’s zone with less than 10 seconds remaining that the players and fans leaped from the stands into the pool to celebrate the unprecedented fifth title and undefeated season.

Before that game winning shot, USC didn’t have a lead in the second half. They briefly lead 1-0 in the beginning seconds on a goal from Connor Virjee, and 6-5 in the second period on a shot by senior Tobias Preuss.

UCLA’s widest margin was 4-1 with approximately two minutes left in the first period. At this point USC’s goalie James Clark was having difficulty blocking shots. It was evident UCLA had the early momentum.

"(Clark) looked like a beginner, not like an Olympic goalie," said USC head coach Jovan Vavic. "I told our guys after the first quarter, just believe, and he's going to start blocking. And he stopped many shots in the third and fourth quarters."

It was a back and forth game with both goalies blocking shots and defenses forcing turnovers.

UCLA scored two unanswered goals to finish the half up 8-6 over the Trojans and lead 9-7 halfway through the third period.

USC made a rally to tie it at 9-9 on Burton’s second goal of the game off a lob pass from Tournament MVP Michael Rosenthal with 6:16 remaining.

The Bruins senior captain Josh Samuels gave UCLA the 10-9 a slim lead with 3:09 left. USC’s Rosenthal responded by tying the game at 10-10, skipping a shot past goalie Matt Rapacz with 2:25 left.

Both teams had chances to take the lead. Bruin’s best shooter Samuels missed a couple shots that went wide in the last few minutes that could have sealed a victory for the Bruins.

USC’s second half adjustments proved to be too much for the Bruins as the Trojans outscored UCLA 5-2 to take home another trophy.

The Trojans’ fifth year senior Michael Rosenthal was named the Most Valuable Player in the NCAA Tournament. He scored three goals and ended up winning his fifth ring as a Trojan.

Senior Matt Burton ended the game with two goals and assisted the game winner.

Who is to say another team won’t win five consecutive championships again. But USC’s Vavic is already thinking about winning USC’s sixth straight title.

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