PHOENIX, Arizona, December 10. MICHAEL Rosenthal was a key player on the University of Southern California's water polo team that won the NCAA title, and he talks about that historic final match on today's edition of The Morning Swim Show.
Rosenthal, a redshirt senior at USC, details the key moments that allowed USC to pick up a fifth-straight team title, including his three goals. He runs down a litany of teammates that also contributed to the win, as well as the coaching staff. With his college career at an end, however, he's faced with a crucial turning point in his water polo future, and he talks about the options that lie ahead of him in and out of the pool. Be sure to visit SwimmingWorld.TV for more video interviews.
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Morning Swim Show Transcripts
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(Note: This is an automated service where some typos and grammatical errors may occur.)
Tiffany Elias: This is the Moring Swim Show for Monday, December 10, 2012, I am your host Tiffany Elias. Our guest in the FINIS Monitor has just helped the University of Southern Cal to another water polo NCAA title to the longest streak in history. USC claimed their 5th consecutive title last week in what has been described is a dramatic matchup against UCLA. Joining us today from Southern California, Senior Michael Rosenthal, who was very instrumental in the Trojan's Victory. Michael, a big congratulations is in order on your national championship.
Michael Rosenthal: Thank you very much.
Tiffany: Thanks for joining our show. So last year was 4 straight titles for USC which was pretty emotional. How can you describe number 5 this year?
Michael: I mean as my final - and as a senior to go out with a 5th championship. The little way it happened. It is pretty amazing. We as a team, we have been working very hard since the last season to get to the position to win it and the hard work paid off and we won.
Tiffany: Now correct me if I am wrong but you guys had a perfect season, correct?
Michael: That is correct.
Tiffany: So is that pretty unlikely as well?
Michael: I mean throughout the course of the season you have your ups and downs and you have tough games and not so tough games, but you know our team figured out a way to stay consistent throughout the whole season and find a way to win all of those games and it is just a testament to the caliber of guys that are on our team.
Tiffany: Well, let's go back and talk about the NCAA matchup against UCLA, 11 to 10 was the final score and you had a big part in that, 3 goals yourself. Can you walk us back through the match, because I know it was very up and down back and forth? Can you give us a little replay of the events?
Michael: Yeah. Well before the game we were all really, really excited to get going and obviously UCLA was too and they showed it. They came out really strong. They went out 4-1 and thanks to Connor Vergie we had 2 key goals in the first quarter. We are able to stay with them and not let them pull ahead too much and I think at half time the score is 8-6, a little bit more balanced scoring but we are still down and UCLA was just finding the back of the cage and we were trying to keep up, but they had a pretty solid lead at half time. At half time in the huddle we all I mean we have a lot of guys on this team, a lot of experience and we knew that we had to turn. We had to pick up the defense and get some stops and that was the only way we were going to get ourselves back into the game and you know in the second half the score was 5-2 and we really clammed down on defense and found ways for the ball in the back of the cage ourselves and it was back and forth. I think we took a 6-5 lead and then they scored 3 goals in a row to make it 8-6 and then we came back and then the end was a wonderful game or tied until the very, very end and they got closest for that goal away to put us up for good.
Tiffany: Was there any point in the match that you just thought you UCLA has this?
Michael: No, I mean there is no way we were going to come this far and give up like that. That is how our team works, that is kind of in our culture. You know going out forward down forward we were going to keep fighting until the end until the final whistle and you know the game is never over in water polo. There is, you can go on runs. There are many runs in that game by both teams and there is no point in the game that we thought we were going to lose.
Tiffany: So you end up winning by one goal. Can you describe those emotions for us that you guys were feeling as a team afterwards?
Michael: It is hard to describe, but you know it is a culmination of a lot of hard work over 5 years and you know putting in the time to build the team, build the team chemistry, get to know these guys who are now my brothers and get experience with them and to win it all to see everyone celebrating together like that and it is the best feeling in the world.
Tiffany: So now you are a senior and graduating a few guys. How does the outlook of the team look moving forward?
Michael: I mean the team outlook looks very strong. Myself, Matt, Vernon, Andrew Reego, Tobias Preuss are the guys that are graduating and -- but we still maintain a lot of really strong weapons. Nikola Vavic and Kostas Genidounias are two leading scorers are incredibly special players and very talented and they can anchor the team for the next few days in as well as Mace Rapsey, Stephen Siri and then a bunch of upcoming guys like Marc Vonderweidt and Russell Renteria and a bunch of guys like that in that class who are going to be able to hold it down and hopefully keep the program on top for years to come.
Tiffany: So it is possible that we could see that streak continue past 5 consecutive?
Michael: Yeah it is definitely possible. We have the best coaching staff in the country and with Jovan and Pinta and Stefan and Casey and Jack and Vaso and everyone who helps out you know we are always going to be in position to be in there at the end of the season and contend for a national championship of the year.
Tiffany: Well I am glad you mentioned the coaching staff. Jovan, he has been a part of USC's NCAA titles, now 11 total. USC has 8 on the guy's side, 3 for the ladies, what can you say about his coaching?
Michael: No one knows as much about Water Polo. I mean he has been around the game for so long that he really knows how to teach it to us so we really understand the game very well. He is also a very good about managing the team and making sure everyone buys into the system which has produced undeniable results over the past years and you know and on top of that you add the hard work and the dedication, but watching game field having this assistant coaches break down the other teams and really give us the material we need to be prepared for any opponent and that is why we are so successful.
Tiffany: Well I couldn't think of a better way to end your senior year. Will this end your Water Polo career, what are your plans moving forward?
Michael: I haven't really decided yet. I am going to take a little bit of time off and figure out the next stage in my life I guess. I am really have not ruled out anything. I love playing water polo. It has been an amazing one so far and just keeping all the doors open.
Tiffany: Now what is your degree in?
Michael: My degree is in human biology with the minor in business.
Tiffany: All right so do you think -- now I know your plans are wide open as far as Water Polo is concerned, do you think that you are going to be utilizing that degree in the near future or have you thought about that step?
Michael: I would hope, I am hoping to go to physical therapy school and that is kind of the next step and in order to do that I have a bunch of classes I still need to take and volunteer work hours. I need to acquire, but you know I have the rest of my life for all that you know, but I don't know. It is just a bunch of thinking I need to do. Now that seasons over I hope I have a lot more time to kind of consider all the options.
Tiffany: I would imagine the celebrations are still in full effect from that NCAA title?
Michael: Yeah, it has been a pretty big high for the past few days. I am still thinking about the championship and just the whole, my whole career here at USC.
Tiffany: Well congratulations. That is a huge feat and we hopefully look forward to your continued Water Polo creator, but if not we wish you the best of luck. Michael: Thank you very much.
Tiffany: All right. Thanks for joining us. That is Michael Rosenthal in the FINIS Monitor. That will conclude today's Morning Swim Show make sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with all the latest news. I am your host Tiffany Elias. Thanks for watching.
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