No. 2 USC Blasts No. 4 Bruins 11-6
April 19, 2013
WESTWOOD, CALIF. -- The No. 2 USC women's water polo team turned a one-goal game into a dominating victory in Westwood as the Trojans ran rampant over No. 4 rival UCLA in the Bruins' home pool today. After UCLA pulled within one, the Trojans turned on the turbo boosters and rattled in five straight goals -- including sophomore Monica Vavic's 100th career goal -- to put the Bruins way out of reach with an 11-6 victory. That win wrapped up the regular season with the Women of Troy in second place at 5-1 in the MPSF standings, taking a 21-1 overall record into the postseason as the No. 2 seed in the coming MPSF tourney.
USC's offense was super charged by hat tricks from Anni Espar and Kaleigh Gilchrist, while Vavic rang up her 100th and 101st career goals with a pair of strikes in the win. The cage was guarded stalwartly by Flora Bolonyai, who hauled in eight saves, including six in the second half as the Trojan defense allowed only two goals in the final two frames. The last UCLA goal was a flukey one, with an extra ripple allowing a floater to creep barely across the line with one second left in the game. That Bruin score ended 12 minutes and 35 seconds of scoreless play by the Bruins, who watched the Trojans turn a 6-5 lead into an 11-5 advantage.
UCLA never led in the game. The Trojans jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a smooth passing series on a 6-on-5 that Hannah Buckling put away early in the first. Jayde Appel earned a 5-meter penalty shot for USC next, and Espar promptly deposited it in the back of the net. UCLA would finish a power play of its own next, then pull even out of two meters, but USC had back-to-back scores lying in wait. Dominique Sardo ripped a bullet through from distance just ahead of the shot clock buzzer to snag back the lead for USC. And out of the gates in the second frame Espar found Kaleigh Gilchrist for a searing backhand from the post to pump USC up 4-2 on its hosts. The teams would trade goals the rest of the half, with UCLA netting two around a cross cage strike from Olivia Cummins as USC led 5-4 at the break.
The Trojan defense made a statement early in the third. The Trojans conspired for back-to-back takeaways at two meters, and then Espar delivered with a booming bar-in score to make it 6-4 with 5:12 on the clock in the third. Another UCLA 6-on-5 got the Bruins back to within one, trailing USC 6-5 with 4:36 to go in the period. That kickstarted an unstoppable rally from the Women of Troy. Espar nailed her third goal to the back of the cage next, followed by a Gilchrist power move off a feed from Sardo. On a late 6-on-5 advantage, Vavic ripped in her 100th career goal with three second left in the third, and USC was out ahead of the Bruins 9-5 entering the final frame. There, the Trojans defense held UCLA silent while Espar created two more big goals for USC. Gilchrist finished off a setup from Espar with another steaming backhand with 5:49 to go. And in the final minute, Espar hit Vavic for a crosscage finish on a USC 6-on-5 that made it 11-5 Trojans. The Bruins would squeeze that one last, late goal on the board before the buzzer, but USC already had its third straight win over its rivals well in-hand. The Trojans add their second win of the year over the Bruins to last year's victory in the 2012 NCAA Semifinals to boast three consecutive wins over UCLA for the first time since the 1999 season, when USC beat UCLA six games in a row.
USC now has a hold on the No. 2 seed in the 2013 MPSF Championships, which will be held April 26-28 in Berkeley, Calif. The Trojans will open the tourney with an 11 a.m. matchup on Friday (April 26) against either CSU Bakersfield of San Jose State.
#2 USC 11, #4 UCLA 6
SAVES: Flora Bolonyai (USC) 8, Sami Hill (UCLA) 8.