The No. 1 USC men’s water polo team has a long-term goal: to win a fourth consecutive NCAA championship title this season.It took its first step toward that goal Sunday, defeating Fresno Pacific 26-4 as part of the UC Irvine Invitational in Irvine, Calif.The Trojans (1-0) faced the Sunbirds in their first regular season matchup of the season — one day removed from scrimmages against Long Beach State, Stanford and UC Irvine.They capped with the weekend with a second scrimmage against the Anteaters on Sunday, as well.“The biggest improvement we made from the first to second day was passing,” USC coach Jovan Vavic said. “The first game we played against Irvine was 9-7 but the second time we played it was 11-1. It was a huge difference between playing the same team on the first day and second. Our guys were much more unselfish in our second game [in terms of passing].”The defending champions began their lone regular season contest of the weekend against Fresno Pacific with seven consecutive goals, followed by one goal from the Sunbirds. The Trojans responded by scoring 10 more, bringing the score at the half a commanding 17-1. In the second two frames, things went from bad to worse for USC’s competition as the Trojans sealed the 26-4 victory.Three Trojans scored four goals each during the match; redshirt freshman driver Zach Lucas, sophomore driver Stephen Siri and senior driver Peter Kurzeka.Vavic, in his 17th season of coaching the men’s team, was quick to credit his players.“We had three guys who scored four goals … but overall we give the guys the points for goals, assists and defensive efforts,” Vavic said. “Overall the player with the most points was [redshirt junior Andrew] Reego, he had 21 points, and the second was Peter [Kurzeka] with 19. Those would be our top players of the game.”Despite the team’s impressive victory, Vavic refrained from forming conclusions about his young group.“After that game it’s hard to really judge anything about how the rest of the season is going to be,” Vavic said. “It was a good opportunity to play everybody. We played 20 players, 2 goalies and 18 regular players, and we feel very confident.”Following its strong player over opening weekend, the team will head into next weekend’s match against Cal Baptist looking to build upon its debut performance.“The guys had some really good showings and I think our offense was really prepared in every game,” Vavic said. “Defensively we were much better our second day than the first day. Overall I was very pleased with our energy and excitement.”
The 30-year-old Ruschel made an emotional return to football in the Joan Gamper Trophy against LaLiga giants Barcelona at Camp Nou in August 2017, while he scored in a friendly with Roma on September 1.Ruschel, who returned to competitive action against Flamengo in September that year, scored his first goal since the plane crash in Chapecoense’s 2-1 Catarinense 1 win over Hercilio Luz in February 2019.Gol da vitória, gol da história VERDE sendo escrita por guerreiros como você Alan Ruschel Somos um só!Somos Goiás SPORTV pic.twitter.com/3WaQ4H2GSh— Goiás Esporte Clube (@goiasoficial) October 1, 2019However, Goias loanee Ruschel netted for the first time in Campeonato Brasileiro since the accident as the team upstaged Cruzeiro 1-0 on Monday.”I’ve been working daily to make things happen,” Ruschel said via Globoesporte.com after scoring the 62nd-minute winner. “It was my second goal after the tragedy.”Ruschel also wrote on Instagram: “God allows people to doubt us, to see us grow and activate our faith! It will make us dedicate more, fight more, so that in the end things happen!”Thank you for everything my God. Let’s go up and looking for more.” Deus permite que as pessoas duvidem da gente, pra nos ver crescer e ativar a nossa fé! Vai fazer com que a gente se dedique mais,lute mais, pra que no final as coisas aconteçam! Obrigado por tudo meu Deus. Vamos pra cima e em busca de maisA post shared by Alan Ruschel (@alanruschel) on Sep 30, 2019 at 7:57pm PDTRuschel is on loan at Goias until the end of the Campeonato Brasileiro season, with the veteran contracted to Chapecoense until 2020.”I said I wanted to get out of there to breathe new air, to show that I had really returned to playing at high performance,” Ruschel added. “Too happy to be helping the team of Goias. A team that hugged me and the best way to give back is on the field.” View this post on Instagram Chapecoense plane crash survivor Alan Ruschel reveled in scoring his first Campeonato Brasileiro goal since the 2016 tragedy.Ruschel was one of three players to survive — along with Neto and Jackson Follmann — after a plane carrying the Chapecoense squad, technical commission and a number of journalists for the first leg of the Sudamericana final against Atletico Nacional crashed en route to Medellin two days before the match was due to take place, killing 71 people on board, almost three years ago.