Men’s water polo victory over No. 3 USC one of biggest for Pacific
Buoyed by an energized crowd and teeming with confidence from early-season success, University of the Pacific’s fifth-ranked men’s water polo team defeated No. 3 USC 15-13 on Friday in one of the biggest victories for Tiger Athletics.
Senior Matthew Hosmer and sophomore Mihailo Vukazic led the Tigers with four goals each. Senior co-captain Jeremie Cote had three and senior Bogdan Djerkovic and sophomore co-captain Reuel D'Souza each had two.
"We had a talk about keeping our composure," said Cote. "It was a crazy environment: first home game, crazy crowd, loud noise. We knew there would be ups and downs, so our biggest goal was to stay together and just keep playing."
Their strategy made Pacific Coach James Graham appreciative for a team that truly captured a moment at the Douglass M. Eberhardt Aquatics Center.
The only blemish on Pacific’s 10-1 record is a 16-15 overtime loss on the road to No. 1 Cal.
"This has been a year and a half in the making. Last week, we had a big game against Cal at their place, and we came up just on the wrong side of it," said Graham. "What was amazing about this group was taking what they learned that day, moving forward, and finding a way to win our home opener against a powerhouse team.”
Pacific followed the huge win by sweeping four weekend matches in an invitational at the University of California, Davis. The Tigers rolled past No. 16 California Baptist 16-7 and No. 10 San Jose State 16-9 in Saturday matches and returned Sunday to defeat No. 14 Harvard 14-11 and Occidental 13-10 to improve to 10-1 by winning five games in less than 48 hours.
The Tigers are likely to rise in the NCAA men’s water polo poll.
"You never know how guys will show up after a win like we had Friday night. Certainly, there were moments of adversity that we had to overcome. Still, the team showed the competitive stamina and emotional resilience we need," Graham said. "Those are the type of championship habits we are building upon day by day.”
The Tigers have two more Top 5 showdowns—at No. 2 UCLA on Sept. 30 and at home against No. 4 Stanford on Oct. 22.