Vikings lose valiantly to nation’s top team


Two meter offender Jimmy Lebeau catches an outlet pass, shakes the USC goalie fora score in their matchup on Saturday, Sept. 21. (Rashad Tucker/ The Inquirer)

Gabriel Agurcia

DVC played host for the men’s water polo Northern California Invitational, headlined by an early morning matchup with 5-time defending NCAA champion USC on Saturday, Sept. 21.

DVC was defeated 18-5. Head coach John Roemer didn’t expect to snag a win against such an opponent. “I have no illusions about that. That’s like, say, DVC’s football team is going to go play Alabama right now, number one team in the nation. I don’t think Mike (Darr) would have any illusions about winning that game,” he said.

The Vikings put up a great fight in the first half. After going down 3-0 within the first five minutes, DVC got its first goal at the 3:10 mark on a whipping, back-to-goal shot by Bora Dimitrov.

USC scored back-to-back goals before Antoine Lena gave DVC its second score. USC lead 6-2 after the first.

DVC’s first two second quarter possessions resulted in turnovers. However, the team regrouped with goals from Jimmy Lebeau and Austin Estrada, allowing them to trade jabs with the Trojans. DVC trailed just 9-4 at the half.

“That first half, we played exceptionally well. Being down 9-4 to the number one team in the nation, you know, pretty good,” Roemer said.

The second half was far less competitive. The two teams traded one goal a piece over the first couple minutes, but USC began to clamp down defensively and execute almost flawlessly on offense.

Long shot clocks plagued the Viking offense, a testament more to an extremely solid defense than poor offensive effort. Three unanswered goals by the Trojans closed out the third quarter.

USC continued to use patience and pinpoint ball movement to tack on three more goals. More flawless defense stymied DVC’s offense, closing the game at 18-5.

Dimitrov, the team’s captain, was quite satisfied with the overall performance. “I think we had a pretty good game, considering we’re playing the number one team in the nation. And we had a better score than other first-division teams had against them,” he said.

Roemer could also see fatigue kicking in, as his team has only had about five weeks of play and practice, compared to the four or five months USC has been competing for.

Tired bodies also made for clouded minds. “The mistakes we made were a lot of mental mistakes. Those are easier to correct than huge physical disabilities, which I didn’t think we had many of,” Roemer stated.

At the end of the day, the coach was very proud of the experience as a whole.

“It shows that there’s a lot of respect for DVC in the water polo community,” Roemer said. “And I honestly believe that getting that respect, not only because of how we play in the pool, but, you know, we transfer every single kid to a four-year school.”