CORONA DEL MAR, CA – The USC men’s water polo team ended its long quest to earn a first-ever NCAA Championship, as the top-ranked Trojans edged No. 2 Stanford, 9-8, in overtime at Corona del Mar High School on Sunday in front of 2,385.
Senior driver Marko Pintaric, who was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the NCAAs, made the biggest shot in USC history, a two-pointer with 1:38 left in the second overtime period to erase a Stanford one-goal lead and give the Trojans a 9-8 edge.
From there, USC’s defense tightened up and forced turnovers on Stanford’s final two possessions, and the Trojans earned their first-ever crown. The Trojans also set a school record with their 25th victory of the season.
It was a sweet moment for the program, which had finished second in the nation four of the last five years and six times overall. Co-head coaches John Williams and Jovan Vavic were thrown into the pool and were joined by the rest of the team, who celebrated for a great length of time.
“You cannot believe how terrific it is to win the championship after so many years of trying,” said Williams, who is in his 26th year as head coach. “This one’s not just for this team, but for the entire Trojan water polo family that has been through this. We’ve come so close so often. I saw players from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s there tonight and this one’s for all of them too.”