No. 1 USC Suffers First Loss of 2014, Falling 9-5 At No. 3 Stanford|
March 30, 2014
PALO ALTO, CALIF. -- The No. 1 USC women's water polo team was dealt its first loss of the year at the hands of host No. 3 Stanford, which had the hot hand in today's rematch of the 2013 NCAA Championship game. The Cardinal looked comfortable in its home waters today, making a six-goal run to seal a lead for a 9-5 victory over the defending national champs in Palo Alto. The loss snaps a 27-game winning streak held by the Trojans, dating back to a loss to Stanford last season -- its only loss of 2013. USC is now 20-1 overall and 4-1 in MPSF play.
Facing off for the first time since that historic 2013 NCAA Championship game -- where USC and Stanford played through over 45 minutes of water polo, including three sudden-death periods -- the Trojans and Cardinal knew this MPSF matchup promised to be a wild one. USC entered Stanford's home pool carrying a 27-game win streak that dated back to a 6-4 Stanford win in an MPSF clash last season at USC's home pool. The Trojans had beaten the Cardinal twice since that loss -- in the MPSF Tournament final and the NCAA championship game -- so today's rematch was sure to be heated.
Stanford came out and took an early 2-0 lead, notching its second goal of the game on a 5-meter penalty shot. The Trojans would stiffen their defense and get control of Stanford's efforts at counterattack strikes, and USC would manage a three-goal surge that took the Women of Troy to a 3-2 lead in the second period of play. Colleen O'Donnell had started the run with a goal in the first frame. Goalie Flora Bolonyai and her Trojan defense locked in from there, while Jennifer Stiefel scored on a 6-on-5 to even the game at 2-2 by the close of the first period. Kaleigh Gilchrist hit Monica Vavic for another successful power play by the Trojans midway through the second to give USC a 3-2 lead, but the Trojans would fall into a rut from there.
Stanford wrapped two long-range strikes around another 5-meter penalty shot to claim the last three goals of the half and built back to a two-goal lead, up 5-3 at the break. In the second half, Stanford plugged in three more goals to put USC in an 8-3 hole before Bolonyai put a stop to a third Stanford 5-meter penalty try for one of her final 12 saves on the day. O'Donnell managed to snap over six minutes of scoring silence by USC next to get the Trojans back on the board and make it 8-4 entering the final frame. Kaleigh Gilchrist would rifle in a goal for the Trojans with 3:07 to go in regulation and make it a three-goal margin, but Stanford's transition game would win the day and the Cardinal finished out the game with one last goal for a 9-5 decision in favor of the hosts.
USC now returns home to the Uytengsu Aquatics Center, where the Trojans will later host both the MPSF and NCAA tournaments, for an MPSF matchup next week against UC Irvine. The Trojans will face the Anteaters at 3 p.m. on Sunday (April 6) in a game to be televised on Pac-12 Networks.
#3 Stanford 9, #1 USC 5
SAVES: Flora Bolonyai (USC) 12, Gabby Stone (STAN) 17.