No. 2 USC Outlasts LMU and Pepperdine For Championship

After two overtime battles, Trojans take the crown at the Triton Invitational

Matt Sagehorn had two goals in USC's championship win over Pepperdine.

Sept. 7, 2008

SAN DIEGO, CALIF. -- The No. 2 USC men's water polo team endured two tough overtime games on Sunday to emerge as the champions of the Triton Invitational in San Diego. The Trojans took Loyola Marymount into sudden-death overtime in Sunday's semifinal, getting the game-winning goal from 2008 Olympic silver medalist J.W. Krumpholz for a 10-9 win that put USC into the championship game. There, USC dueled with Pepperdine through another overtime showdown, this one decided by a game-winning strike from Matt Sagehorn in the first period of overtime action for a 7-6 title win. USC is now 4-0 overall for the 2008 season.

After a give-and-take first period in the title match against Pepperdine, USC took a 3-2 lead with a late score in the first period from Anthony Artukovich. USC would go up by two with a quick strike from Peter Kurzeka to open the second, and the Pepperdine brought it back to a one-goal game at 4-3 USC for halftime. In the second half, Pepperdine made use of a 6-on-5 to tie things up, and then took its first lead with a score on a 5-meter penalty shot with 2:30 on the clock. Unable to get to the back of the net in the frame, USC was behind 5-4 entering the fourth period of play.

USC opened the fourth with a strike from Justin Rappel that locked the game back up 5-5. The Waves moved ahead again with an even score at 4:09, but a minute later USC had an answer. Up on a 6-on-5, Matt Sagehorn pulled USC even at 6-6 with a score from the top. Pepperdine had a chance with a power play with 17 seconds left, but the Waves' shot hit the post to bring up USC's second overtime match of the day.



Matt Sagehorn served up the go-ahead goal in the first overtime, getting his second goal of the game to go through with a skipper with 27 second remaining. Up 7-6 entering the second overtime period, that score would end up standing as the game-winner, as both teams misfired on 6-on-5 chances in the second overtime period. After another tense outing on the day, USC emerged as the Triton Invitational champions.

To get into that final of the Triton Invitational, USC first had to get through a grueling match against Loyola Marymount. USC saw the Lions crawl back out of a 6-3 Trojan halftime advantage, working to within one at 6-5 USC entering the fourth period. LMU tied it up 6-6 with a score off the foul with 5:42 left in regulation. USC would go ahead 7-6 on a score from Jovan Vranes, but LMU evened things again with a 6-on-5 strike to make it 7-7. At the 3-minute mark, Nico Sardo went one-on-one with the LMU goalie and slipped in the go-ahead score for USC, but another LMU power play leveled the game again at 8-8 with 2:29 on the clock. USC goalie Joel Dennerley had the save on LMU's next 6-on-5 opportunity with 1:38 to go. With 19 seconds left, USC went up with a man advantage for the chance to win in regulation. Shea Buckner took the final shot, but the skip hit the left post to bring up overtime.

Neither team would score in the first overtime period, but LMU took a lead in the second. With 1:45 on the clock, the Lions got through for a 9-8 lead. In the final minute of the period, Justin Rappel hit Peter Kurzeka with a pass that Kurzeka made use of, firing in the tying strike from close range to make it 9-9. An LMU offensive foul gave USC the ball for the last possession, but the final shot was no good, forcing sudden death overtime for the right to move into the championship game. LMU won the sprint to take the first look against the USC defense, but the shot hit the post. USC took the ball back and set up for its offensive series. On the attack, Matt Sagehorn delivered a pass into two-meters for J.W. Krumpholz, who whipped in the game-winning goal out of set to end the match as a 10-9 USC victory.

USC's next action gives the Trojans another matchup against Loyola Marymount with a trip to the Lions' pool for a 3 p.m game on Friday (Sept. 12). USC's home opener is next, as the Trojans host Long Beach State for a 2:30 p.m .game on Saturday (Sept. 13) at McDonald's Swim Stadium.

USC 10, LMU 9 (3OT)
LMU 1 - 2 - 2 - 3 -- 0 - 1 -- 0 --- 9
USC 2 - 4 - 0 - 2 -- 0 - 1 -- 1 --- 10

USC -- Shea Buckner 3, Jovan Vranes 2, Kyle Sterling, Justin Rappel, Nico Sardo, Peter Kurzeka, J.W. Krumpholz.
LMU -- Asajavicius 3, Forai 2, Aki, Benedetti, Hummel, Fair.

SAVES: n/a.

USC 7, Pepperdine 6 (OT)
PEP 2 - 1 - 2 - 1 -- 0 - 0 --- 6
USC 3 - 1 - 0 - 2 -- 1 - 0 --- 7

USC -- Peter Kurzeka 2, Matt Sagehorn 2, J.W. Krumpholz, Anthony Artukovich, Justin Rappel.
PEP -- n/a

SAVES: n/a.

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