As you remember, yesterday I talked about year-round sports. Today I am exploring another aspect of this trend. You will notice that most municipal athletic complexes stand dormant for much of those vacation days of summer. The older kids don’t have the time to spend at the pool or on a recreational field just having fun. In days gone by, there would have been no open fields. Somebody would have been playing baseball or softball on it. Today you can drive by Liberty Park most nights of the week and the ball field is empty. Why is this? The high school kid has had practice starting as early as 5 a.m. He/she then goes to work and then most will report back to their school sometime in the evening for more of the same or a different practice. How much time does that give them to really do fun things? If this trend continues, I can see a time when a high school varsity team will have just enough kids to participate in games with almost no subs, because the kids will have said “I’m not going to put in all this time and not play.” Unfortunately, it is already creeping in to some sports. This past year Batesville had to really scout to find a full freshmen football schedule. Many girls sports only have varsities because the girls have already decided that the time needed to be a reserve athlete does not fit into their schedules. When a young person decides not to participate, they loose interest and they find a much easier path for recreation instead of calling friends for a “pick up game”. Worse yet, some of them begin to loiter in wrong locations. We all know what that leads to.
The No. 5 USC men’s water polo team took home fifth place at the 2019 SoCal Invitational this weekend at UCLA’s Spieker Aquatics Center. Redshirt senior 2-meter Sam Slobodien was a problem for the Cal defense, drawing six of USC’s first seven 6-on-5’s, four of which they converted. The Trojans held an 8-4 lead going into the second half. The Trojans secured a decisive 14-6 victory over No. 14 Princeton to open the weekend Friday. Though the Tigers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, USC responded with 5 straight goals. The Trojans entered the second half with a 9-5 lead after allowing just a single goal in the second period. Twelve different Trojans contributed to the total team scoring effort, including three freshmen in driver Chris Sturtevant, driver Marcus Longton and 2-meter Grayden Reynolds. As champions of last year’s invite, USC looked to keep its hopes of a repeat alive on day two of the action. Saturday’s doubleheader started with a high-scoring thriller against No. 4 Pacific. Tied 8-8 at the half, the teams battled back and forth throughout the second, but with under five minutes remaining, the Trojans faced a 4-goal deficit. “At the end of the day, a win is a win,” Dasic said. “We did a good job in the first half, so we just had to stay calm because we know that’s how Cal plays,” Dasic said. “They’re always very aggressive.” Sophomore goalie Nic Porter was a force in the net with 12 total saves, holding down the LBSU offense to no goals in the second period and one in the third. The strong defensive effort secured a 9-6 win and sent USC to the fifth-place match. The Trojans refocused and set their sights on the next match of the day against Long Beach State. USC defeated the 49ers 13-6 in its home opener this season and used that familiarity to its advantage in their second meeting. “I think at half, we still played good defense not allowing that many goals,” head coach Marko Pintaric said. “Just the tempo of today’s game and the physicality was a little extraordinary, and I think that’s the reason a lot of goals were scored … That attitude [caused] a significant drop in defense.” “We are allowing way too many goals compared to seasons in the past, and the No. 1 focus is on defense for the rest of the season,” Pintaric said. “We have to just become more consistent to play defense throughout the whole game.” Hat tricks from junior driver Jacob Mercep, sophomore 2-meter Jake Ehrhardt and senior driver Marin Dasic helped USC beat Cal 13-12 Sunday morning. The match was remarkably physical, featuring a whopping 36 total exclusions. Cal converted on four power plays to bring the deficit to one after trailing 13-8 in the fourth. USC ran down the clock for 20 seconds to edge out the Bears. The focus is on defense as the Trojans depart from the invitational section of the regular season. Tensions flared between the two teams in the second half, resulting in numerous whistles. Sophomore driver Hannes Daube defends a Long Beach State player in a match earlier this season. Daube’s 5 goals Saturday were not enough to help the Trojans advance past day two of the tournament. (Catherine Liang / Daily Trojan) Sophomore driver Hannes Daube led a quick three-score surge, bringing him to 5 total goals in the match. But as the last one came with just seven seconds left, it was too late. The Tigers handed the Trojans their second loss of the season and put them out of contention for repeating last year’s victory. The Trojans will play their second home match of the season at Uytengsu Aquatics Center next Saturday against UC Irvine at 1 p.m.