No. 3 USC Stumbles To No. 2 UCLA To Wrap Regular Season|
April 18, 2015
WESTWOOD, CALIF. -- The No. 3 USC women's water polo team was able to close the gap down to a single goal several times, but No. 2 UCLA had an answer every time. The Bruins were able to make a fourth-period rally, punching up four goals in that frame to ring up a 9-5 win over the visiting Trojans in Westwood. USC senior Monica Vavic led the Trojans' scoring with a hat trick and in doing so moved up to stand as the No. 2 all-time scorer in MPSF history, now with 279 career goals. Today's loss hands the Trojans the No. 3 seed into the coming MPSF Tournament. USC is now 21-3 overall with a 4-2 finish in MPSF play.
The Bruins came out with a quick strike to take the lead, and they wouldn't give up much ground the rest of the way. Midway through the first frame, UCLA struck again on a 6-on-5 opportunity to take a 2-0 advantage. USC finally cracked the code on a power play of it own, as Stephania Haralabidis hit Monica Vavic with a cross that Vavic hammered home to make it 2-1. To open the second period, however, UCLA went top corner early and then added to the count with another 6-on-5 finish, taking a 4-1 lead on the Trojans. USC would nail the post on its next 6-on-5 chance, leaving the Trojans still behind 4-1 by halftime.
USC came out hot-handed in the second half, finally piecing together a run to make a game of it again. Melissa Bergesen would earn the power play for the Trojans, and Vavic delivered a pass to Hayley McKelvey on the post. McKelvey went big for the catch and slammed through the score to make it 4-2 early in the third. Just 30 seconds later, USC was on the attack again. Again it was Haralabidis setting up Vavic for the 6-on-5 blast, as Vavic ripped in the score to make it a one-goal game again, down 4-3. Both defenses would stiffen from there, trading field blocks until UCLA managed a power move at set to take back a two-goal advantage, up 5-3 with 2:25 left in the third. One more power play for the Trojans saw Stephania Haralabidis come up big, as she sent in an unstoppable rocket to make it 5-4 with just five seconds left in the frame.
That would be as close as the Trojans would get, unfortunately. The Bruins would deliver back-to-back strikes from the post to work ahead 7-4 barely two minutes into the fourth. Finally rewarded for a hard day's work at 2-meters, Jayde Appel earned the Trojans a 5-meter penalty shot with 2:14 to go. Vavic converted with authority, and USC was within two, down 7-5. But another UCLA 6-on-5 would come next, and the Bruins took advantage of it to go up 8-5 with 1:43 on the clock. And after UCLA claimed a save at one end, the Bruins would manufacture another goal as Rachel Fattal served up a sidearm sling for her fourth goal of the day, making it 9-5 Bruins with just 30 seconds left in the game. Despite the loss, USC freshman goalie Victoria Chamorro was strong in the cage, collecting 11 saves for the Trojans in the game.
That would wrap the regular season for both teams, with the MPSF Tournament next on the agenda, running April 24-26 in Tempe, Ariz. As the No. 3 seed, USC will open up against No. 6 seed San Jose State at 12:30 p.m. on Friday (April 24) to play for a spot in the semifinals.
#2 UCLA 9, #3 USC 5
SAVES: Victória Chamorro (USC) 11, Sami Hill (UCLA) 8.