USC Stuns Stanford To Win 2013 MPSF Championship
April 28, 2013
BERKELEY, CALIF. -- The No. 2 USC women's water polo team shell-shocked top-seeded Stanford today in the 2013 MPSF Championship match in Berkeley, Calif. The Women of Troy rattled the Cardinal cage with five unanswered goals in the first period and finished off an 11-7 win to claim USC's third MPSF title and avenge USC's only loss of the year. The championship victory locks the Trojans (24-1) in with the automatic bid for the coming NCAA Championships, to be held May 10-12 in Cambridge, Mass.
USC and Stanford had traded wins earlier in the season, with the Trojans posting a 13-10 win in February and the Cardinal claiming a 6-4 win during the MPSF regular-season. USC served up a healthy dose of payback today, though, generating its most decisive win over Stanford since the 2010 season, when the Trojans went on to win the 2010 NCAA Championship. The Women of Troy could do no wrong in the first frame, taking a quick lead on a sliding blast from Monica Vavic and adding to it with a skipper from Hannah Buckling. Those two continued to provide plenty of firepower for the Trojan offense, blasting two apiece in the first frame around a stinging skip shot from Kelly Mendoza to bump USC up 5-0. Buckling would end the day by scoring USC's final goal of the game, going low corner on the Cardinal defense to match her USC career best of four goals in the game. Vavic had a hat trick by halftime, and Anni Espar sliced in two goals to help drive the powerful Trojan offense out of reach of Stanford. On the defensive end, USC's Flora Bolonyai hauled in nine saves in the game, including a block against a Stanford 5-meter penalty shot that would have recorded the Cardinal's first goal of the game and made it close early.
Instead, the Trojan defense pitched a shutout against Stanford in the first period of play while nailing those five goals to the back of the cage. As it turned out, Stanford's first goal of the game did come from the 5-meter penalty spot, but not until early in the second period when Stanford was awarded another penalty shot and it was converted by Melissa Seidemann. She would be the only Cardinal player to score in the second period of play, but she managed three strikes to breathe some life into the Stanford game plan. USC, meanwhile, would hit the post at least three times in the frame. Espar and Vavic would not be deterred, however. The two Trojans scored back-to-back goals for USC, who got ahead 7-2 on Stanford with Vavic's third goal of the game. Seidemann's third would make it a 7-3 USC advantage at the break, but USC had plenty more laying in wait for the Cardinal in the second half.
To open the second, USC blasted three goals in a row to bury Stanford back by seven. Madeline Rosenthal lit the spark when she gathered in a 6-on-5 rebound and drove it home to make it 8-3 Trojans. Espar delivered an unstoppable rocket on USC's next power play opportunity, and after another USC takeaway at set, the Women of Troy finished off another 6-on5 advantage net. That would was topped off with another Buckling blast off a feed from Chelsea Silvers, and USC had a 10-3 lead on Stanford with 4:46 to go in the third. The Cardinal, too, would manufacture a three-goal surge to draw within 10-6 entering the final frame, but USC's defensive savvy -- paired with one more booming blast from Buckling -- wrapped things up for the Trojans. Bolonyai slammed down two 5-on-6 saves, and although Stanford managed one last goal with 4:35 remaining, Kelly Mendoza put a stop to a Stanford counter and Bolonyai hauled in one more save to put the finishing touches on a dominating MPSF Championship win for the Women of Troy over the top-seeded Cardinal.
USC last won the MPSF Championship in 2009, and also won the tournament title in 2004.
USC now awaits the seeding announcements when the 2013 NCAA Championship draw is revealed tomorrow (April 29) at 5 p.m. at ncaa.com
2013 MPSF TOURNAMENT (Berkeley, Calif.)
Championship Gane - April 28
SAVES: Flora Bolonyai (USC) 9, Kate Baldoni (STAN) 4.