Stockton, Calif. - In a stark contrast to the regular season meetings, No. 1 Pacific and No. 4 USC exploded for a combined 31 goals as the Trojans advanced to the MPSF Finals with an 18-13 win over the Tigers Saturday at Chris Kjeldsen Pool. Senior Goran Tomasevic led Pacific with four goals.
Each of the first two meetings between the two teams finished 10-6, with each side taking a victory. Saturday, however, the two teams nearly doubled the goal output.
USC scored on its first possession, with Tomasevic answering for a 1-1 tie just 37 seconds in. The Trojans converted each of their first three shots, as Jeremy Davie and Nikola Vavic scored for a 3-1 lead. Balazs Szabo answered on the 6-on-5 to pull Pacific within one at 3-2.
Jon Walters and Ivan Kustic put the Trojans up 5-2, before Tomasevic's spin and back-hand shot cut the gap to 5-3 at the end of one quarter.
But USC controlled the second quarter, scoring three-straight goals from Kostas Genidounias, Mace Rapsey and Connor Virjee. Senior Kevin Oliveira found the back of the net to cut the gap to 9-4 headed into halftime.
USC outscored Pacific 5-4 in the third quarter, leading by as many as eight, the largest deficit for Pacific this season.
Tomasevic scored twice in the third quarter while Balazs Erdelyi and Alex Obert also got on the board.
Andres Oneto and Ben Stevenson each tallied a pair of fourth quarter goals, while Kristian Laczkovics added a goal but Pacific never came closer than five goals.
Pacific falls to 21-4 overall, while USC moves to 25-4. Pacific's six-game win streak came to an end.
The result turns a crowded four-team hunt for three potential NCAA bids for MPSF teams into an even murkier picture.
No. 2 UCLA (28-2), the tournament's three-seed, meets No. 3 Stanford (20-4), the tournaments two-seed in the second semifinal. Pacific will face the loser of that game at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the Third Place Game, while USC faces the winner at 3 p.m. in the MPSF Final.