No. 3 USC Crafts Comeback Rally To Beat No. 4 Cal 6-5 In Berkeley|
April 4, 2015
BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The No. 3 USC women's water polo team erupted with a four-goal scoring rally that finally tugged the Trojans into the lead in the fourth period of play to set the table for a 6-5 comeback in over No. 4 host California. Up against a stingy Golden Bear defense in Berkeley, USC was forced to play catchup early and would fall behind by two goals in the second half. After freshman Brianna Daboub broke the silence for the Trojans, senior Monica Vavic added three straight goals to get USC ahead of its hosts for good. USC improves to 20-2 overall and takes a 3-1 mark in MPSF play with the road victory.
Vavic would finish the game with four goals, giving the senior 82 goals this season -- second most all-time in USC history -- and running up her career total to 273. Already the Trojans' all-time top scorer, Vavic now stands at No. 3 in the MPSF career record books.
USC was in stride with the Bears through the first 12 minutes of action, but was always chasing Cal on the scoring front. The Bears broke through first with a sliding score from distance on their first possession of the game. USC manufactured an effective and quick response when Jennifer Stiefel hit Jayde Appel for a nice reach and strike from the post to equalize. Both teams were rendered goalless the rest of the period, though, as defense stiffened. USC goalie Victória Chamorro made back-to-back stretching saves to shut down Cal on a 6-on-5 opportunity late in the frame, and a Stephania Haralabidis field block helped turn away the Bears before the break to keep it at 1-1 entering the second period. That's when the Bears managed another breakthrough blast with a well-placed shot to take Cal ahead 2-1 in the first minute of the second frame. The teams would trade field blocks, and Chamorro snagged another key save to get USC back on the attack. After Cal was whistled for an exclusion, USC charged on. Vavic isolated herself and ripped in the finish to pull even again, locked at 2-2 with 4:58 left in the half. Two minutes later, though, Cal got another one to go, and the Bears would hold a 3-2 edge for halftime.
In the third, Cal heaped pressure on the Trojans with a bar-in blast that nudged the Bears out to a two-goal advantage, up 4-2 with 4:28 on the clock. It would take a few minutes, but USC's power move found its spark in a deft string of passes. Stiefel sent the ball in to Avery Peterson at set, and Peterson popped the ball back out to freshman Brianna Daboub. Daboub made the most of her opportunity and hammered it home to bring USC back within reach at 4-3. The cage and the Cal defense would turn away the Trojans through the end of the third as the Bears held on to their advantage entering the fourth.
Cal goalie Madeline Trabucco stopped an early USC 6-on-5 chance, but the Trojans were undeterred. Vavic went on a solo mission in front of the cage, spinning and powering up for an impressive finish that made it an even game once more, locked at 4-4 with 4:56 left in regulation. Less than a minute later, Appel was doing work at 2-meters. For her efforts, she'd earn the Trojans a 5-meter penalty shot, and Vavic was there for the go-ahead rocket boost. The senior's searing penalty shot made it three goals in a row for the Women of Troy and earned them their first lead of the game, up 5-4 with 4:02 remaining. Another Haralabidis field block turned away Cal at the defensive end, and after three minutes had passed since USC took the lead, the Trojans converted again on a key strike. Vavic made her move, and Haralabidis hit her on the drive, catching Cal unawares and making the Bears pay as Vavic sliced in her fourth goal of the game and topping off a four-goal scoring surge for the Trojans. That had USC up 6-4 with 1:01 to go -- an advantage that reaped benefits when Cal was able to drum up one last goal but still was stuck out of reach of the Trojans. USC would secure a 6-5 victory that gives the Trojans a leg up in the MPSF race, now holding a 3-1 record in conference play with two games to go.
USC returns home now, setting up for Senior Day and an MPSF showdown against San Jose State. The Trojans will tangle with the Spartans at 4 p.m. on Saturday (April 11) at Uytengsu Aquatics Center for the last home game of the year.
#3 USC vs. #4 California
SAVES: Victória Chamorro (USC) 7, Madeline Trabucco (CAL) 6.