No. 2 USC Edged By No. 3 UCLA
April 16, 2014
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- The No. 2 USC women's water polo team had a slow day at the office today, coming up short in an MPSF tangle with crosstown rival UCLA. The No. 3 Bruins were able to steal the lead in the third period of play and hang on for a 6-4 win over the host Trojans today at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The loss puts the Women of Troy third in the MPSF standings to take the No. 3 seed into the coming MPSF Tournament -- to be held at USC April 25-27. The Trojans are now 22-2 overall in finishing 4-2 in MPSF play.
It was a game of the goal today, with both goalies making strong stands in the cage while the cage itself also proved productive on both ends. There were considerable shots off the bar and post today, and goalies Flora Bolonyai and Sami Hill hauled in a combined 25 saves to add to the low-scoring affair. With 12 saves on the day, Bolonyai move up into a tie with Bernice Orwig as USC's all-time career saves leaders. One more, though, and Bolonyai will stake her claim at the top in USC's history books. The senior was one of six to be honored before the game in a Senior Day ceremony to celebrate Trojan seniors Bolonyai, Olivia Cummins, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Kelly Mendoza, Colleen O'Donnell and Madeline Rosenthal.
That group of seniors started the game along with junior Monica Vavic, but it was UCLA that got on the board first in today's rivalry match. The Bruins earned back-to-back 6-on-5 chances and converted on the second to take a 1-0 lead midway through the first period of play. Junior Eike Daube would bury a skip shot about two minutes later to pull even at 1-1, and Rosenthal would serve up a defensive field block to stymie another UCLA power play at the close of the frame.
The Trojans got another defensive boost when Bolonyai put a stop to a UCLA 5-meter penalty try early in the second period. That kept it even, and Bolonyai would squelch another Bruin 6-on-5 advantage later to keep her team in position. UCLA would break the silence, however, ending eight minutes of a scoring drought by both teams to take a 2-1 lead with 2:19 to go in the half. USC responded again, with Mendoza getting USC up on a 6-on-5 on its next possession, while Vavic rammed in the equalizer with 1:38 on the clock. Bolonyai made two more saves before the end of the half, leaving the teams even again for the second half of play.
USC would take its first lead of the game on its first possession. Stephania Haralabidis won the sprint to get USC the ball, and she hit Mendoza on the post soon after for a go-ahead blast for the Trojans, who now held a 3-2 advantage. The lead lasted less than a minute, though. The Bruins converted on a power play next to level things, and after two USC 6-on-5 chances ended in shots off the bar, UCLA went up with 1:17 to go with Alys Williams' goal to make it 4-3. UCLA would lead the rest of the way, getting lucky a minute later when a defensive tip landed in the hands of Kodi Hill, who was in the right place at the right time for a push-in at the post to make it a 5-3 UCLA lead.
In the final frame, Vavic whipped in a skipper form the top to bring it back to a one-goal game, down 5-4 with 5:56 to go, but Emily Donahoe was able to strike at the other end on UCLA's next attack for a 6-4 lead that would hold the rest of the way.
USC now sets up to host the rest of the 2014 competition ahead. The MPSF Tournament will be held at Uytengsu Aquatics Center April 25-27, followed by the NCAA Tournament also in USC's home pool May 9-11. The No. 3 seed into the MPSF tourney, USC will open up against the No. 6 seed in a 12:30 p.m. game on Friday (April 25) to begin the Trojans' push to defend their conference and NCAA titles.
#3 UCLA 6, #2 USC 4
SAVES: Flora Bolonyai (USC) 12, Sami Hill (UCLA) 13.