High-powered men’s water polo prepares for two games

first_imgThe No. 3 men’s water polo team will have an opportunity for revenge against the No. 2 Cal Bears (15-2) on Saturday following a nonconference matchup with the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Stags (10-12) on Thursday night.Emily Smith | Daily TrojanThursday night lights · Junior driver Matteo Morelli and the No. 3 men’s water polo team host two games this weekend, starting with Claremont on Thursday at 5 p.m. They play No. 2 Cal at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.Coming off a big 13-8 win over No. 6 Long Beach State this weekend, USC (16-1) has rattled off eight straight wins, seven of them thanks to double-digit scoring.Against the 49ers, the Trojans were outscored early 3-2, but were able to bounce back and obtain an 11-6 lead going into the final frame despite a raucous Long Beach State crowd.“It was a really tough game in the beginning,” junior driver Matteo Morelli said. “As the game went on, we scored a couple goals, and the momentum went our way. That is a tough pool to play in. It’s a good crowd.”USC got out of Long Beach with a 13-8 victory. Nine different Trojans scored goals, including four who had two goals.With the momentum gained from their latest top-10 win, the Men of Troy have a chance to make a legitimate claim for the nation’s No. 2 spot versus Claremont and Cal.At 10-12, Claremont has experienced adversity against talented teams this year, sporting a 2-12 record against teams in the top-25.With just 19 players to mix in and out of the pool, the Stag’s lack of roster depth has troubled them, especially late in games.In terms of USC’s game plan for Claremont, the Trojans are playing with the same attitude as every other contest this season.“We just need to be ready to win the game,” senior driver Nick Bell said. “We go into every game like it’s the championship game; we can’t think about anything else. Cal’s coming up, and it will be a fun game.”After their meeting with Claremont on Thursday, USC will play host to Cal, the same team that gave USC its first and only loss in September at Cal’s invitational tournament earlier this month.Ten games later, the Trojans are preparing for a similar offensive assault that downed them earlier in the season.In a close 10-8 loss, the Trojans mounted a furious five-goal comeback after being down 6-2 at halftime. By the end of four periods, the Bears and their six different scorers proved to be too much for the USC defense.“I was a little disappointed we weren’t able to pull off first place, but it’s difficult playing away games, and playing Cal at Cal is difficult with their home crowd,” junior driver Grant Stein said. “To get back up, we try and motivate each other with support to lift each other’s spirits in that huddle.”Cal’s Johnny Hooper, the former MPSF Newcomer of the Year and current leading goal scorer, has fired in 50 total goals in 2016, including three goals against USC.Along with Hopper’s 50, Safak Simsek (20) and Odysseas Masmanidis (17) can each provide scoring support should the Trojans bottle Hopper up.If the Men of Troy survive Saturday’s contest, a No. 2 spot in the national rankings is imminent. But before they take on Cal, the Trojans need to take care of business against the Stags. Thursday’s game is at 5 p.m., and Saturday’s contest begins at 6:30 p.m.last_img

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