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UCLA, USC vie in NCAA water polo final four

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

USC's top-ranked men's water polo program remains in the national spotlight this weekend.

The Trojans will play host to the NCAA championship tournament as they seek a record-setting fifth consecutive national title.

The tournament arrives at McDonald's Swim Stadium for first time Saturday with the semifinal round.

Top-seeded USC (27-0) opens against No. 4 Air Force (19-10) at 1 p.m. No. 2 seed UCLA (27-4), the Trojans' MPSF rival, takes on No. 3 St. Francis College of New York (16-8) at 3:12 p.m. in the other semifinal.

Many expect USC and UCLA to collide in Sunday's 3:12 p.m. finale.

The Trojans beat the Bruins in last season's championship game, 7-4, to become the first collegiate program to claim four straight NCAA titles.

USC advanced to the NCAA finals last weekend by capturing the MPSF title in its home pool. The Trojans have won 27 consecutive matches at home.

USC also has been steady since its coach, Jovan Vavic, was recently named the interim U.S. national men's coach.

"They're excited for me," Vavic said of his players' reaction to the hire. "They know that I work hard for them and water polo has been my life for the past 25 years. ... And it gives some credibility to our program as well."

USC features first-team All-MPSF picks Nikola Vavic, son of the coach, Kostas Genidounias, goalie James Clark and Jeremy Davie. UCLA includes former Register county players of the year Josh Samuels (Villa Park) and Paul Reynolds (Foothill). Samuels was an All-MPSF first-team selection.

Air Force has received key contributions from Josh Stedman (Troy) and Cruz Smithson (Servite).


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