No. 1 USC Kicks Out Of Reach Of No. 3 Arizona State 11-7
March 9, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The top-ranked USC women's water polo team kept its win streak alive and well with a victorious push past visiting No. 3 Arizona State in today's home opener for the Trojans. USC blasted out of an early two-goal hole and put a halftime tie quickly to bed, scoring four straight goals to start the second half to power up for a final 11-7 win over the upset-minded Sun Devils. USC improves on its undefeated run through 2013, going to 14-0 overall and taking a 2-0 advantage in the MPSF standings with today's victory.
Up 10-7 on the Sun Devils entering the final minute of play, the Trojans still had some heroics left in them. USC goalie Flora Bolonyai squared off against ASU's Alicia Brightwell for a 5-meter penalty shot. Brightwell put the ball to the bottom right corner, but Bolonyai was there -- with her foot -- for the kick save that fired up the junior Olympian as well as the Trojan bench. USC would run down the clock on its final possession of the half with Monica Vavic holding the ball. She would catapult the ball from two-thirds down the pool, plopping the ball into an open net with one second left to get the Trojans ahead 11-7 for the final buzzer.
The wild ending may have been a Trojan highlight reel, but the start of the match was not quite as bright for USC. Arizona State came out as the early aggressors and worked ahead of USC 3-1. The Trojans would mount a rally next, getting a blast from Jayde Appel for a spark to close the first frame before Madeline Rosenthal hit Dominique Sardo with a cross that Sardo buried cross cage to lock it up 3-3. Colleen O'Donnell gave USC its first lead of the game, up 4-3 at 5:35 in the second, but ASU evened the score at 4-4 and then again a 5-5 just before halftime.
To open the second half, Kaleigh Gilchrist -- who had punched in two goals in the first half of action -- ripped a backhand that was saved by ASU goalie E.B. Keeve. The ball ricocheted into Appel's hands, however, and Appel made the most of the opportunity with a shove to the back of the net that had USC back on top. That score prompted a four-goal run by the Trojans, who had Gilchrist nail two more around a booming strike from Hannah Buckling. The USC defense was effective in interrupting the Sun Devils at the other end, nabbing steals and getting big saves from Bolonyai to help anchor that run to a 9-5 lead. Brightwell's third goal of the game stopped the streak with an offspeed score that made it 9-6 going into the fourth frame. Vavic would nail one crosscage out of the gates to make it 10-6, and ASU could manage only a long skip from Ao Gao with 1:49 to go in the final period of play. Between Bolonyai's foot save and Vavic's prayer shot at the close, USC had capped off a nice comeback push to beat the Sun Devils 11-7 in the Trojans' long-awaited return to their home pool at what is to become the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
Undefeated USC will play another home game next week in an MPSF matchup against San Jose State at 5 p.m. on Friday (March 15).
#1 USC 11, #3 ASU 7
SAVES: Flora Bolonyai (USC) 12, E.B. Keeve (ASU) 10.