Men’s water polo prepares for two games

first_imgKatie ChinComing off wins against the No. 4 Pacific Tigers, Concordia Eagles and Fresno Pacific Sunbirds, the No. 3 men’s water polo team (12-1) play host to the No. 8 Pepperdine Waves (8-5) this Friday in yet another battle between two top 25 teams.The Trojans have rebounded from their only loss of the season to Cal by demolishing the defenses of Pacific (12-3), Concordia (21-2) and Fresno Pacific (21-3). The Trojans put up 15 goals against Pacific the last time they played and 21 goals against both Concordia and Fresno Pacific.Due to a combination of an efficient offense and a suffocating defense, the Trojans head into Friday’s contest confident.“We have proved to ourselves that we can play really well,” freshman driver Marin Dasic said. “When we’re all on the same page, we can beat anyone. We are the better team, and I think we should be able to win without any doubts.”The Waves are coming off of a four-game losing streak, having lost to UCLA, Stanford, UCSB and Pacific by a combined score of 46-29. Of those four teams, the Trojans have played Stanford, Pacific and UC Santa Barbara, but have won every game by a combined 28 goals.To Pepperdine’s credit, the Waves have wins over No. 17 UC Irvine and a Loyola Marymount team that sits just outside the rankings by an average margin of victory of 5.5.Offensively, Pepperdine relies on a trio of scorers — Marko Asic (38 goals, five assists), Mark Urban (21 goals, 15 assists) and Mate Toth (26 goals, two assists) — to get the job done. Asic, the team’s leading goal scorer, finds a way to get the ball past outstretched defenders despite standing at just 6-foot-1.Contrary to USC’s roster that features only two sub-6-foot players, Pepperdine has six. The Men of Troy could utilize their size against Pepperdine, especially with top scorers junior two-meter Lachlan Edwards who has 21 goals and junior driver Grant Stein who has scored 19 times who are both 6-foot-5.After USC’s win over Pacific, Stein referenced how Pacific’s utilization of their “center” plays gave USC’s defense fits all game long. Against the Trojans, the Waves could roll out 6-foot-8 center Cristian Bridley to institute centering plays to control USC’s defensive zone.In terms of Pepperdine’s defense, goalie Zack Rhodes has tallied a 54.6 save percentage with 142 saves to 118 goals allowed.Overall, junior utility Mihajlo Milicevic and the Men of Troy believe that their Friday game with Pepperdine will be yet another stepping stone to an NCAA title.“Right now our confidence is up,” Milicevic said. “We have to prepare for them of course, but we’re not preparing to beat Pepperdine; we’re preparing to win the championship. So, Pepperdine is just one opponent on our way to achieving that goal.”last_img