No. 2 USC starts hot, finishes strong

by Antonio Morales

Peter Kluch / Senior Staff Photographer
Peter Kluch / Senior Staff Photographer

Giving up the first four goals of the game to the defending national champions is asking for trouble, and the San Diego State water polo team found that out the hard way as a conference battle between two top-10 teams quickly turned into an ambush.
No. 2 University of Southern California raced out to a 4-0 lead and never looked back as they defeated No. 7 SDSU 11-8 in the

Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener on Saturday at the Aztec Aquaplex.

Sophomore utility Amber Pezzolla thinks the slow start had something to do with nerves.

“We were a little nervous at the start of the game,” Pezzolla said. “We settled down after that because we knew we had to catch up.”

The Aztecs did indeed settle down and came within one goal of tying the Trojans in the third quarter, but USC kept attacking.
No matter how many goals SDSU scored, whenever the team put the ball in the net USC always had an answer.

“We started trading goals,” senior center Ashley Novack said. “We would score to shorten their lead to one or two goals, but they just came back with goals of their own.”

Head coach Carin Crawford believed the Trojan defense had an impact on the offense’s struggles.

“They are an aggressive team with a strong front,” Crawford said. “We were a little slow at moving the ball, and it let them push our offense out.”

The aggressive nature of USC’s defense was help set by the officials, who called a loose game all afternoon.

“They were exploiting how the game was being called by the officials,” Crawford said. “It set the tone for the game.”

“Both teams were aggressive,” Pezzolla added. “But they ended up getting a lot more calls.”

The loss drops SDSU to 8-3 on the season and 0-1 in the MPSF play.

The Aztecs will be back in action at 10:15 a.m. this Saturday against No. 11 UC Irvine as they start play in the UC Irvine Invitational.