The USC men’s water polo team pieced together a dramatic 11-10 victory over crosstown rival UCLA on Dec. 2 to extend the Trojans’ national championship streak to five in a row and finish its 2012 season with a perfect 29-0.
Playing in the Trojans’ own home pool at McDonald’s Swim Stadium, which begins renovation as the Uytensgu Aquatics Center in 2013, this rematch of the 2011 NCAA final was a far cry from last year’s comparatively lopsided victory.
The Bruins were the aggressors throughout. USC trailed by as much as three goals in the first period, two in the third and also trailed in the fourth. A 4-0 run gave USC a slim 6-5 lead during the second period, but UCLA answered back with three straight goals to shove the Trojans out of the lead.
With 2:25 to go, Michael Rosenthal ripped in his third goal of the game for the fourth draw of the game. USC goalie James Clark came up with a clutch save next, and the USC defense held strong to get the ball back. During the final minute of play, Matt Burton put in a goal to give USC an 11-10 lead with 40 ticks to go. It was the Trojans’ first lead since the 4:47 mark of the second period. With just 15 seconds left, Mace Rapsey nabbed a UCLA pass and got the ball to Rosenthal for the win.
Last year, USC made history as the first men’s water polo team to win four straight titles.