Trojans start season with routs

first_imgThe No. 4 USC men’s water polo team has maintained its swagger throughout the offseason.The Trojans opened their season by outscoring opponents 53-5 in a one-sided shootout this weekend at the UCI Invitational in Irvine, Calif. Eighteen different Trojans scored in the two-day blowout, eight of whom recorded hat tricks, while seven freshmen found the net in their first collegiate appearances.Stiff arm · Junior goalie Joel Dennerley anchors the defense as USC eyes another national championship. Dennerley got more rest time than usual this weekend as landslide matches gave reserves time in the pool. – Katelynn Whitaker | Daily Trojan “The tournament went really well,” said redshirt sophomore driver Michael Rosenthal. “We played a couple of Division III teams that weren’t quite as strong, but it was a good way to start the season off. It was good to get our momentum going and set the tone for the rest of the season.”The two-time defending national champions got the ball rolling early Saturday with a 23-3 bashing of Redlands, racing to an 11-3 halftime lead and shutting out the Bulldogs in the second half. Rosenthal led all scorers with four goals, and redshirt freshman driver Stephen Siri tacked on three more in his first match as a Trojan. Freshman driver Tobias Preuss and freshman utility Mace Rapsey followed suit with two goals apiece, while drivers Nikola Vavic and Rex Butler rounded out scoring for the freshman class.“The freshmen this year have been doing really well so far,” Rosenthal said. “We lost a lot of guys last year to graduation, and these guys are definitely coming in and filling those roles and contributing already.”The floundering Bulldog defense was underplayed only by an uninspired offensive unit that managed just three goals in four quarters of play, thanks in large part to Will Simon’s work in net. The redshirt sophomore goalie stepped in for junior Joey Dennerley at the half and racked up four saves to secure a second-half shutout, while USC added nine goals at the other end in the final period.The Trojans were no more sympathetic with Whittier on Sunday, blasting the Poets with 30 goals in USC’s most lopsided victory in over 15 years. Redshirt sophomore goalie Jimmy Friedrich and Dennerley allowed just one goal apiece while freshmen two-meters Jeremy Davie and Max Hurst-Mendoza, along with Rapsey and Vavic, each earned a hat trick in their first NCAA appearances.“We started out okay, maybe a little slow,” said redshirt sophomore two-meter Zayne Belal. “But by the end of the tournament, we picked it up and figured stuff out. We gelled a lot better.”A young Trojan lineup did it’s best to silence any questions about the team’s seeming inexperience after losing eight seniors from last year’s national championship squad. Despite listing just five upperclassmen on the roster and no seniors, the Trojans played a disciplined tournament, improving on last year’s defensive average of 5.5 goals allowed per game while pounding the opponent’s cages with all the earnest excitement of a first collegiate match.And although the team’s experience might have dipped this year, their goals certainly have not.“Our expectations have never changed,” Rosenthal said. “Every year we expect to win, this year’s no different. We know we’re a young team, but we have a lot of other strengths.”The Trojans, who open the season 2-0 for the 16th consecutive season, start regular season play against Long Beach State Saturday in McDonald’s Swim Stadium.“It’s going to be a brawl,” Belal said. “We got in a little bit of a scuffle with them at the scrimmage the other day. I don’t think they like us too much. It’s going to be fun.”last_img read more

Mizzou’s Sam could become NFL’s 1st openly gay player

first_imgIn this Sept. 21, 2013, file photo, Missouri’s Michael Sam (52) sings the school song after Missouri defeated Indiana in an NCAA college football game in Bloomington, Ind. The All-American athlete says he is gay, and the defensive end could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)Tolerance is about to be tested in the National Football League.And Michael Sam hopes his ability is all that matters, not his sexual orientation.Missouri’s All-America defensive end came out to the entire country Sunday night and could become the first openly gay player in America’s most popular sport.“I just want to go to the team who drafts me,” Sam told ESPN in an interview that aired Sunday, “because that team knows about me, knows that I’m gay, and also knows that I work hard. That’s the team I want to go to.”Nobody has ever done this before.In this Jan. 1, 2014, file photo, Missouri senior defensive lineman Michael Sam speaks to the media during an NCAA college football news conference in Irving, Texas. Sam says he is gay, and he could become the first openly homosexual player in the NFL. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade, File)In interviews with ESPN, The New York Times and Outsports, Sam said publicly for the first time that he was gay. He said he came out to his teammates and coaches at Missouri in August.Sam will participate in the NFL combine later this month in Indianapolis and is projected to be a mid-round draft pick in May.“Hopefully it will be the same like my locker room,” he told ESPN. “It’s a workplace. If you’ve ever been in a Division I or pro locker room, it’s a business place. You want to act professional.”Sam received much public support Sunday night from people throughout the world of sports.“I can’t wait to cheer for whatever lucky team that drafts @MikeSamFootball. Personally I hope he goes to my favorite team. The @Colts” tweeted Jason Collins, the pro basketball player who said publicly last season that he is gay.There also were words of caution.Offensive lineman Frank Garcia, who played nine seasons (1995-2003) in the NFL with the Panthers, Rams and Cardinals, said Sam could face “huge challenges” in the league.Garcia was teammates and good friends with defensive lineman Esera Tuaolo, who announced he was gay on HBO’s Real Sports in 2002 — three years after he left the NFL.Garcia said although he and Tuaolo regularly hung out as teammates in Carolina in 1999, Tuaolo never once let on that he was gay.“I think a lot of guys in the NFL are going to say they will accept it, but there are a lot of guys who won’t,” said Garcia, now a sports radio show host with WFNZ-AM in Charlotte. “The reality is Michael Sam is going to open himself up to a lot of criticism and a lot of challenges. Those are challenges most gay people have to go through, but when you are dealing with alpha males and some meatheads in an NFL locker room it’s amplified. And there are some guys who have strong religious beliefs, too, so he’s going to be judged. He’s going to face some things that are going to be very difficult to overcome.”The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Sam participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last month after leading the Southeastern Conference in sacks (11.5) and tackles for loss (19). He was the SEC defensive player of the year.There have been a few NFL players who have come out after their playing days, including Kwame Harris and Dave Kopay.Collins, a 35-year-old backup center, came out after last season when he was a free agent and was not signed this season. MLS star and U.S. national team player Robbie Rogers also came out a year ago.“His courage will inspire millions to live their truth,” Rogers tweeted about Sam.Division III Willamette kicker Conner Mertens, a redshirt freshman, said last month he was bisexual.“We admire Michael Sam’s honesty and courage,” the NFL said in statement. “Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014.”Sam’s announcement comes at a time gay rights and sports have collided at the Olympics in Sochi. Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law has received much attention, and criticism, because of the games.“By rewriting the script for countless young athletes, Michael has demonstrated the leadership that, along with his impressive skills on the field, makes him a natural fit for the NFL,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization. “With acceptance of LGBT people rising across our coasts — in our schools, churches, and workplaces — it’s clear that America is ready for an openly gay football star.”The NFL’s sexual orientation, anti-discrimination and harassment policy states:“Coaches, General Managers and others responsible for interviewing and hiring draft-eligible players and free agents must not seek information concerning or make personnel decisions based on a player’s sexual orientation. This includes asking questions during an interview that suggest that the player’s sexual orientation will be a factor in the decision to draft or sign him.“Examples: Do you like women or men? How well do you do with the ladies? Do you have a girlfriend?”Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams tweeted:  “I could care less about a man’s sexual preference! i care about winning games and being respectful in the locker room!”Williams’ teammate, cornerback Drayton Florence, posted on his Twitter account: “No comment but it can be a distraction in the locker room. At least he’s open with it much respect!”___AP Sports Writer Steve Reed in Charlotte, N.C., contributed to this report.___Follow Ralph D. Russo at read more