No. 1 USC Snags Another Win With 7-6 Victory Over No. 2 Stanford
March 9, 2006
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The top-ranked USC women's water polo team faced No. 2 Stanford for the third time this season, and once again the Women of Troy had to ward off an early Cardinal lead to pin down the win. USC blasted two unanswered goals in the third period to pass up Stanford and take the lead on the way to a 7-6 victory that keeps the Trojans' undefeated 2006 run intact. The Women of Troy now boast a 15-0 overall record and are 4-0 in Mountain Pacific Sports Federation competition. The Cardinal are now 11-3, 5-1.
Stanford goalie Meridith McColl put up a wall in the cage against the Trojan attack, registering 10 saves in the first half to hold the Women of Troy at bay. The Trojans took the first lead with a bar-down 6-on-5 score from Patty Cardenas, but a couple USC defensive breakdowns led to three straight Stanford scores. Brittany Hayes managed a 6-on-5 goal with 36 seconds left in the first frame to cut Stanford's lead to 3-2, but the Cardinal went back ahead before halftime with a shot to the top left of the cage from Katie Hansen -- her second goal of the game. Lauren Wenger answered with a bullet to the bottom left to make it 4-3 Stanford with 22 seconds left in the half, and then Wenger delivered a solid field block to end the period.
In the third frame, USC took care of business. Though its first player advantage situation passed the Trojans by, Marina Mayer made use of a Stanford offensive foul, putting away a counterattack strike for USC to tie it up 4-4 at the 1:22 mark of the third. A minute later, the Women of Troy got up again on a 6-on-5 opportunity, where Hayes found Erika Figge for a skipper that grabbed back USC's first lead since early in the first quarter.
Ahead 5-4 entering the fourth, Hayes converted another power play with a crosscage score that boosted the Trojans ahead 6-4 on the first possession of the period. Stanford moved back within one when Wenger got a hand on Laurel Champion's shot, but the ball deflected into the cage to make it 6-5 with 2:30 to play. That's when Hayes took the game into her hands on USC's next possession. Hayes whipped a backhand shot from two meters to the back of the net to give USC a 7-5 edge. Wenger picked off a Stanford pass to sidestep one Cardinal offensive series, but a late USC exclusion gave Stanford a 6-on-5 chance with 20 seconds left, and Lauren Silver's shot went bar-down and in to cut it to 7-6. With just 4.89 ticks left on the clock, however, the Cardinal were out of time to tie it up, and the Trojans earned their 15th straight victory of the season.
USC returns to action on Friday (March 10) against No. 9 San Jose State at 5 p.m. at McDonald's Swim Stadium
No. 1 USC 7, No. 2 Stanford 6
Stanford 3 - 1 - 0 - 2 -- 6 USC 2 - 1 - 2 - 2 -- 7
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