USC Trojans knock off Cal Bears 13-12 @ 2019 MPSF Invitational

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USC's Marin Dasic converts against Cal goalie Adrian Weinberg. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

LOS ANGELES, CA. In a contest marked by 38 total exclusions and nine players fouling out, USC (8-2) built a five-goal lead through the first three quarters then withstood a late rally by California (9-5) to take fifth place at the 2019 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) Invitational by a score of 13-12.

mpsf-shield-final“We have a very talented group on offense, when we play for each other it’s very hard to stop,” USC Head Coach Marko Pintaric noted. “Making that extra pass made all the difference.

‘Our man down defense won the game for us. That commitment to defense…is all about attitude. Our guys are showing that they can play defense. My goal as a coach is to make sure the team keeps that attitude for the rest of the season.”

The difference proved to be in 6 on 5 offense, where USC made 10 goals in 15 tries while CAL was eight of 17. USC got hat tricks from Marin Dasic, Jake Ehrhardt and Jacob Mercep. Sam Slobodien drew six exclusions for the Trojans while Matt Maier drew four. Sophomore Hannes Daube had a fruitful morning with a goal, two assists, three drawn exclusions and two steals before fouling out. Goalie Nic Porter recorded eight saves for the Trojans.

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Cal Head Coach Kirk Everist got balanced production from his squad. Jordan Hoover led the way with three goals, an assist and four drawn exclusions. Center Nikos Papanikolaou added two goals and five exclusions drawn. Three more Bears notched two goals apiece: Safak Simsek, Warren Loth, and Sam Untrecht. Attacker Jake Stone chipped in an assist and four drawn exclusions. Golden Bear freshman keeper Adrian Weinberg made 7 saves.

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Jake Ehrhardt fights off Cal defenders. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

In the opening quarter the Trojans used three power play goals in four tries to take a 3-0 lead with 2:58 to play. Cal fought back late in the quarter with a backhand from in front by Papanikolaou to make it 3-1. USC won the second quarter sprint and immediately drew another 6/5 which was converted by Dasic.  Three possessions later, the Trojans made it 5-1 on a great passing combination from Daube to Ehrhardt at the post with 5:56 to play in the quarter.

The Golden Bears answered with a three-goal run of their own in a span of 2:20, cashing in two extra man situations, plus a direct shot by Papanikolaou to make it 5-4 with three minutes to play in the half. Then the Trojans rallied with three scores on their next five possessions to make the score 8-4 at intermission.

During the first half, USC scored six extra man goals in eight attempts, while holding the Bears to two scores in five opportunities.

A Golden Bear surge falls just short

After halftime, California surged back into the game with two goals in the first 3:10, one on a penalty shot by Simsek and another on a power play marker by Loth. USC answered with another three-goal run: a 6 on 5 goal by Daube and two scores by Dasic, one a natural goal and then a penalty shot, extending the USC lead to 11-6 with less than two minutes left in the third.  The teams then traded 6/5 goals in the final minute of the period making the score 12-7 USC.

The fourth quarter was eventful for Cal, beginning with a quality save by Weinberg on a step out attempt by the Trojans Slobodien. That triggered a goal in transition by Cal in the form of heavy shot just under the crossbar by Untrecht. The goal drew Cal to within 12-8. Everist was issued a Red Card shortly after an exclusion to Simsek. USC’s Luke Wyatt converted the ensuing 6 on 5 for what would be his team’s only goal of the quarter, which pushed the Trojans to a 13-8 advantage with 6:27 to play in the game.

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Cal’s Joe Molina being defended by USC Luka Karaman. Photo Courtesy: Catharyn Hayne

California then stiffened on defense and used three more power play goals to make it cut the deficit to two with 2:17 to play. After a missed 6 on 5 with 1:25 to go, the Bears Jack Deely scored with only 20 seconds left to account for the final margin.

Looking ahead

USC will face two Golden Coast Conference teams in the coming week, hosting UCI on Saturday, before traveling to UCSB for a rematch Sunday of their first loss to the Gauchos since 1990.

California will play only three games in October: at San Jose State 10/5, at home vs. Pepperdine 10/12, and at UCSB on 10/27.

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