Dec. 7, 2003
Stanford, Ca. - Predrag Damjanov powered his way to a team-leading three goals, including the insurance score in overtime to lead the top-ranked USC Trojans to a 9-7 victory over second-ranked Stanford in the championship game of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at the Avery Aquatic Center.
Damjanov, a 6-foot-5, 280-pound senior from Belgrade, Yugoslavia, scored with 14 seconds remaining in overtime to insure the Trojan victory. With the score tied at 7-7 after regulation play, USC's Trevor Clark scored what proved to be the winning goal with 56 seconds remaining in the second three-minute overtime.
USC jumped to a 4-1 lead. Cameron Kaiser scored at 5:04 of the first period, Damjanov at 51 seconds of the first period, and two second period goals by James Shin at 4:06 and Kaiser at 2:36. Stanford's Tony Azevedo scored the first of his four goals at 3:11 of the first period.
Down 4-1 at halftime, Stanford scored three straight goals to tie the game. Azevedo scored at 6:41 of the third period followed by Mike Derse on a 6-on-5 goal at 2:49, and 26 seconds later on another power play goal by Peter Varellas.
USC then took a two goal lead at 6-4 when Gadi Hadar scored at 1:54 of the third period followed by a Damjanov score at 6:04 of the fourth period.
Then Stanford took its first lead of the game when the Cardinal scored three straight goals to take a 7-6 lead with 2:28 to play. Matt Moser scored at 4:08 of the fourth period followed by Azevedo goals at 3:24 and 2:28.
But with 1:31 remaining, Hadar rocketed a shot past Stanford goalkeeper Chad Taylor on an extra man situation to tie the game at 7-7.
"I was very proud of the team and how we fought," said Cardinal head coach John Vargas. "I thought we played pretty well defensively, but give credit to USC, they played great. (USC's) Damjanov presented a lot of problems because of his size, but I thought we played good defense to keep the game close."
Bozidar Damjanovic, who collected 14 saves for USC, was named tournament co-MVP along with Azevedo.
"Our strategy coming into this game was to drive more than in our last games," said USC head coach Jovan Vavic. "But down the stretch, strategy gets thrown in the water and it all becomes about playing with heart and desire."
Stanford ended the 2003 season with a 22-5 record. USC ended the year at 23-3.
Azevedo, Mike Derse and Peter Varellas were named to the all-tournament first team while Chad Taylor and Thomas Hopkins were named second team all-tournament. Juraj Zatovic, Damjanovic and Damjanov were named first team all-tournament along with Endre Rex-Kiss of Loyola Marymount. Named to the second team all-tournament were Joe Donahue and Alex Ratcliffe of Navy, James Shin and Gadi Hadar of USC, and Tamas Szego of Loyola Marymount.
USC 2 2 1 2 0-2 = 9
Stanford 1 0 3 3 0-0 = 7
Stanford Scorers: Azevedo 4, Derse 1, Varellas 1, Moser 1
USC Scorers: Damjanov 3, Hadar 2, Kaiser 2, Clark 1, Shin 1
Goalie Saves: Taylor (S) 11; Damjanovic (USC) 14