No. 2 Stanford Fends Off No. 3 USC In Overtime|
March 8, 2015
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The No. 3 USC women's water polo team fought out of a four-goal hole and forced overtime against No. 2 Stanford in today's MPSF opener, but the Cardinal found some extra firepower in OT to pull off a 12-9 win over the host Trojans. The loss puts USC at 14-2 overall and 0-1 in MPSF play, while Stanford stays a step ahead at 14-1, 1-0.
Back-to-back Stanford strikes had the Trojans staring at a 7-3 deficit midway through the third period of play, heaping pressure on the hosts to find a solution. Senior Eike Daube would provide a spark 30 seconds later, and the Trojans began to shift momentum back in their favor. Daube's rocket would be followed by a deft counterattack finish from fellow senior Monica Vavic to cut the deficit down to two.
That rally hit a snag when Stanford managed a backhand blast just 8 seconds before the end of the frame, putting USC back 8-5 entering the final period of regulation. USC remained undeterred. Stephania Haralabidis and Daube converted next for USC to trim it to a one-goal game for the first time since Stanford took its first lead, up 3-2 at 4:17 in the second. Again, the Cardinal had a quick response to nudge ahead 9-7 with 3:24 on the clock, but USC kept coming. Jennifer Stiefel rifled one in on USC's next possession, and Stephania Haralabidis hammered home the equalizer with 1:34 left. Stanford looked for the winner before the buzzer, but USC goalie Victória Chamorro was there to clamp down on the Cardinal's backhand try with just seconds left, setting up the teams for overtime.
Stanford proved stubbornly efficient in OT, getting a buzzer-beating backhand to go for the early advantage and then adding to the count with a score a minute later. That had USC in an 11-9 hole, and the Trojans could not manufacture another momentum shift. Instead, Stanford's defense held up, and the offense punched up one more goal to open the second OT frame to make it a 12-9 lead that would stand as the Trojans came up empty in overtime.
USC seniors Eike Daube and Monica Vavic were joined by sophomore Stephania Haralabidis with a pair of goals apiece to pace the Trojans offense, while goalie Chamorro hauled in six saves at the other end. Stanford was led by a hat trick from Jamie Neushul on offense along with nine saves from goalie Gabby Stone.
The game had opened as a tug-of-war. Vavic would slice in the opening goal to net USC the first advantage, up 1-0 with 4:26 on the clock. Stanford pulled even on a 6-on-5 finish, but USC fired back moments later when Jennifer Stiefel set up Avery Peterson at set for a ripping backhand that nudged USC ahead 2-1 by the end of the first frame. In the second period, though, Stanford seemed to solve USC's defensive setup. The Cardinal would clamp down on the Trojans while managing four goals in the next eight minutes to climb to a 5-2 halftime advantage over its host. Early in the second half, Vavic found Jayde Appel for a bullet that snapped almost 12 minutes of scoring silence by the Trojans. Soon after, Stanford fired off back-to-back goals from Maggie Steffens to expand its advantage to a four-goal margin. That's where the Women of Troy regrouped and buckled in for their 6-2 scoring surge to bring up overtime, which would ultimately fall in Stanford's favor.
USC gets right back to MPSF competition next week, staying in the home waters of Uytengsu Aquatics Center for a 6 p.m. showdown against Arizona State on Friday (March 13).
#2 Stanford 12, #3 USC 9 (OT)
SAVES: Victoria Chamorro (USC) 6, Gabby Stone (STAN) 9.