This rivalry is far from finished. The teams will likely meet again two or three times this season. For now, though, second-ranked USC holds the upper hand after beating No. 3 Stanford 8-6 in a battle of two of the top three men's water polo programs in the nation Friday at Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
The Trojans (3-0, 1-0 MPSF) scored in the first 13 seconds and again with three minutes to play in the first quarter to jump out to an early two-goal advantage in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation opener for both teams.
A pair of Trojan goals to open the second quarter extended USC's advantage to 4-1.
The Cardinal quickly responded with a surge of its own to cut it down to a one-score match. True freshman Sawyer Rhodes took a pass from Reid Chase and punched it in from the corner.
A little more than two minutes later, Cody Smith found redshirt freshman Ben Hallock in front of the cage and the Cardinal fired it into the back of the cage for the goal.
A USC goal by Matt Maier with 29 seconds remaining the period halted the Cardinal momentum and gave the Trojans a 5-3 halftime advantage.
USC added to its lead with two early goals in the third period to make it 7-3.
The Cardinal continued to try and chase down the Trojans, as Hallock lobbed a shot over the defense and into the cage for his second score of the evening with three seconds in the period.
In the middle of the fourth, senior Jackson Kimbell corralled a pass from Chase and found the corner of the cage for his 11th goal of the season to pull the Cardinal back within two scores at 7-5 with five minutes remaining in the match.
Stanford furiously tried to further cut into the USC lead, but could not get any closer. The Cardinal and Trojans traded goals in the final minute, with Smith scoring for Stanford.
In a matchup of a pair of All-American goalies, senior Drew Holland posted a season-high 10 saves for Stanford. USC's McQuin Baron, Hallock's teammate on the 2016 U.S. Olympic squad, registered 12 saves for the Trojans.
Holland is Stanford's new all-time saves leader, as the senior passed Chris Aguilera (744 career saves from 1994-98) with his performance on Friday. Holland owns 753 saves in his Cardinal career.
Stanford will be off next week, before returning to USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center to compete in the Mountain Pacific Invitational Sept. 22-24.