As droves of students begin to migrate north for the weekend football game against Cal, so will the No. 3 USC men’s water polo team.The Trojans take to the road to face No. 4 Cal and No. 16 Pacific in their second consecutive two-game weekend, a week after capping an undefeated homestand that featured No. 8 Pepperdine and Long Beach City College. The Trojans are 9-1 this season and undefeated in conference play.“We’ve had our ups and downs. We’re not all the way to where we want to be, but there is progress,” said senior two-meter Shea Buckner. “We want to go to NCAA Championships.”The Trojans’ matchup with Cal on Saturday looks to live up to the two teams’ storied rivalry, as both of the schools enter the weekend ranked in the top five nationally. In the past three years, the teams have met twice in the NCAA Championship, with the Bears coming out victorious both times. This includes a win in 2006 that was decided by a single goal scored in the final second of the game. The Trojans were 2-0 against the Bears in 2008, and won each of the closely contested games in the final minutes en route to an undefeated 29-0 championship season.Buckner, who transferred from Cal to USC after his freshman year, knows what to expect from a strong Golden Bear attack.“They’ve got good leadership. They’re really fast and great on the counter-attack,” Buckner said. “They play with a lot of energy and physicality.”USC already faced off against Cal once this season when the teams met in the third place game of the NorCal Tournament in Palo Alto, Calif. The Trojans bested the Bears 8-6, in a game that featured eight different Trojan players scoring goals.Pacific, who faces USC on Sunday in Stockton, Calif., has not had nearly as much success against the Trojans as Cal, having lost the last eight games played between the two teams. The Trojans were 2-0 against Pacific in 2008 and averaged a seven-goal margin of victory in the two wins. USC has a 35-7 all-time record against Pacific, and their .833 winning percentage over the Tigers is the third-highest out of all the opponents the Trojans face in 2009.“Pacific isn’t an easy team either. Cal is obviously the focus, but you have to be ready for the game against Pacific at their home,” Buckner said.Senior driver Justin Rappel leads the Trojans with 16 goals scored, while fellow senior driver Matt Sagehorn follows closely behind with 14. USC’s veterans continue to dominate offensively, as five of the Trojan’s top six scorers are seniors.Sophomore goalie Joel Dennerley, who recorded eight saves in the Pepperdine match last weekend, now has 60 saves this season, and is averaging less than four goals allowed per game so far in 2009. He continues to anchor a powerful Trojan defense that has not surrendered more than eight goals in any game this season.“Our goal is to never give up more than four goals a game,” Buckner said. “We’re always well prepared and we know our system. As long as we stick to it, we do a good job.”
Officially launched in Barcelona on January 17, the high-performance footwear will be worn by players such as Cesc Fabregas, Mario Balotelli and Marco ReusPuma have announced the launch of evoPOWER, their new boot that will be worn by stars such as Cesc Fabregas, Marco Reus and Mario Balotelli as Europe’s major leagues reach an exciting conclusion.Launched in Barcelona on January 17, the evoPOWER is designed to enhance a player’s natural kicking ability, and also optimise power and accuracy when striking the ball. EvoPOWER features Puma’s most advanced technology to date, including the Gradual Stability Frame (GSF), which allows the boot to bend both ways and be as close to the biomechanics of a bare foot as possible.Fabregas and Reus assisted Puma in the testing of the new footwear, to prove the power and accuracy of the new design. Barcelona star Fabregas said: “Taking inspiration for a football boot from an actual foot sounds like the most obvious thing in the world, but in all the time I’ve spent in football, it’s the first time I’ve heard of this being done. “When you try on these new boots, they are actually quite different to what we have worn before. They are so much more flexible – the way they bend with the natural shape of your foot really helps you to shoot harder.” Borussia Dortmund attacker Reus added: “Shooting from distance is a key part of my game, in open play and free kicks. Having a boot that maximises power in these instances is necessary to help you capitalise on these moments, and this evoPOWER boot gives me a lot of confidence. “I like the thought behind it and have tested it a lot. You can feel a genuine difference – so much so, it actually surprised me. This is a very exciting new boot PUMA have created.”Balotelli was delighted with the feel of the boot, stating: “I’m new to the Puma family, and the football boots they produce were one of the reasons for me signing the deal. The evoPOWER boot impressed me from the first day I tried it in training, I hadn’t really seen a boot like it before. What Puma say about it is true: the flexibility helps create a better contact with the ball and generate really good shooting power.” The evoPOWER boot and the full range of evoPOWER accessories and apparel are launched on February 1.
LOS ANGELES — The longest postseason for the Los Angeles Kings led into the longest game they had ever played.After 94 minutes of impossibly tense hockey, Alec Martinez could scarcely believe it when a rebound off Henrik Lundqvist’s pads came straight to his stick.“After it went in, I think I blacked out,” Martinez said. “I’m just so happy for these guys.”From their first elimination game seven weeks ago to Martinez’s championship-winning goal, these Kings were resilient, relentless and remarkable.And now they have the Stanley Cup. Again.Martinez scored 14:43 into the second overtime, and the Kings won the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years with a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 5 on Friday the 13th at night.Marian Gaborik scored a tying power-play goal in the third period for the Kings, who rallied from yet another deficit before finishing off the Rangers in the finals’ third overtime game at Staples Center.Jonathan Quick made 28 saves and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams scored an early goal as Los Angeles added a second title to its 2012 championship, the first in the franchise’s 47-year history.Long an NHL afterthought in their warm-weather city, the Kings have turned into a burgeoning dynasty — and they’ve turned Hollywood into a hockey town with two titles, capped by this glamorous finish.“We have a team that simply will not be denied,” said Williams, a three-time Cup champion after scoring 25 points. “Every Cup is special. What we went through in 2012 (versus) what we went through this year, huge difference, and we really earned it.”After innumerable chances for both teams in two nail-biting extra periods, Martinez started the final rush with a pass to Kyle Clifford, who dropped it to Tyler Toffoli for a shot. The rebound went straight to Martinez, and the depth defenseman buried it for his fifth goal of the postseason.Martinez is becoming a late-game playoff legend after also scoring in overtime in Game 7 against Chicago in the Western Conference finals, but the Kings all see themselves as part of something bigger.“I don’t know if we’re part of (a dynasty) yet, but hopefully we’re on our way to that,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “I believe this group could be at that point, but it’s going to take a lot of work.”The Kings rocketed off the bench and gathered for a huge group hug near the Rangers’ net before the handshake line and the Stanley Cup ceremony featuring captain Dustin Brown’s second chance to take the 35-pound silver trophy from Commissioner Gary Bettman.While his players went crazy, coach Darryl Sutter nonchalantly walked onto the ice with almost no celebration of his second title. He wore a broad grin when he raised the Cup above his head several minutes later.Brown swiftly handed the Cup to Robyn Regehr, the veteran defenseman and first-time NHL champion who never got back in the Kings’ lineup after his May 3 knee injury.Regehr handed it to Gaborik, the goal-scoring dynamo and late-season acquisition who led the playoffs with 14 goals to win the first title of his 13-season NHL career.The trophy soon went to Doughty and Jeff Carter, who became the seventh and eighth players to win an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup in the same year. Leading scorer Anze Kopitar raised it for the second time, and Quick gave a triumphant shout after his turn.Chris Kreider scored a power-play goal and Brian Boyle added a tiebreaking short-handed goal late in the second period for the Rangers, who showed no nerves while facing elimination for the sixth time this spring.Both teams had tantalizing chances in overtime, from shots off posts by Ryan McDonagh and Toffoli to Kreider’s failed breakaway late in the first OT. Rick Nash had an open net in the second OT, but Slava Voynov deflected the shot just high with the shaft of his stick.Lundqvist stopped 48 shots in another standout performance for the Eastern Conference champions, but the Rangers repeatedly came up one goal short against the Kings despite their goalie’s brilliance.“You go into this hoping that you don’t regret anything,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We put it out there. We gave our best shot, best effort. Three games here all went to OT. What can I say?”Los Angeles’ 2012 title run was defined by that raw, eighth-seeded team’s improbable dominance, but the second crown was all about resilience for the third-place team in the Pacific Division.After fighting through three straight seven-game series to emerge from the tough Western Conference, the Kings won the first three games of the finals, starting with consecutive OT wins on goals by Williams and Brown.Game 5 was the Kings’ 26th playoff game of the spring, matching the NHL record for the longest postseason run. Los Angeles has played 64 playoff games over the last three years, setting another league record.“This time around, we didn’t have time to think about ‘My God, we’ve been playing elimination games so many times,’” defenseman Willie Mitchell said. “I guess that’s probably the difference, that we were on the brink so many times playing really good teams. So that’s pretty cool.”The Kings raised the Stanley Cup just over seven weeks after they faced a 3-0 first-round series deficit against San Jose. Los Angeles confidently won four straight elimination games to become the fourth team in NHL history to rally from that deficit, and then won two more elimination games in a second-round series against Anaheim.The defending champion Blackhawks forced Los Angeles to a seventh game in Chicago, but Martinez’s deflected overtime goal sent the Kings into the franchise’s third Stanley Cup finals.After three straight wins, New York staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden.Staples Center was packed well before the opening faceoff with fans eager for another celebration, rocking the arena with chants of “Go Kings Go!” while both teams were still in their dressing rooms.Los Angeles started out with yet another big-game score from Williams. He got his ninth goal of the postseason on a loose puck after linemates Dwight King and Jarret Stoll applied pressure on Lundqvist.The Rangers finally equalized when McDonagh found Kreider in front. Boyle then got a stunner after Carl Hagelin got the puck away from Voynov, skating around Doughty and wiring a pinpoint shot into the far top corner.But the Kings showed the same determination that has characterized their entire spring run, and they finally equalized with Mats Zuccarello in the box.Doughty’s long shot hit Lundqvist in the chest and dropped in front of him before Gaborik alertly poked it between his legs for the Slovak star’s latest goal in a spectacular postseason with his new club.That’s when the nail-biting hockey started — and roughly 46 minutes later, Martinez drove in the final nail.(GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares