No. 2 USC Powers Up For Semifinal Slot
April 30, 2010
WESTWOOD, CALIF. - The No. 2 seeded USC women's water polo team shrugged off a slow start to its MPSF Quarterfinal game against No. 7 seed San Diego State and peeled out ahead of the Aztecs to claim a 15-5 win. After trailing by a goal early in the second period, USC went on a 13-1 scoring frenzy to secure the Trojans a spot in tomorrow's MPSF Semifinals. USC improves to 21-2 overall as it turns to face No. 3 seed California at 3 p.m. on Saturday (May 1) in the semifinals at UCLA's Spieker Aquatics Center.
Neither team was successful on power play opportunities in the match, but the balance and firepower of the Trojan offense enabled USC to power through and generate goals on all other fronts. Alexandra Kiss led nine Trojan scorers in the game with her hat trick, while Joelle Bekhazi, Dominique Sardo, Patricia Jancso and Kami Craig each provided two goals apiece. Meanwhile, the USC defense stared down a 3-2 deficit to the Aztecs and responded by allowing just one goal in the next 22 minutes of play. USC goalie Tumua Anae collected 10 saves in the game while her defense picked up steals and field blocks to help further stymie the SDSU offense.
After another successful Forel Davies opening sprint, Bekhazi kicked things off with an early USC goal. San Diego State would respond with the next two goals, however, as USC misfired on 6-on-5 chances to trail 2-1 at the close of the first frame. Bekhazi found Alexandra Kiss for a nearside skip to open the second period and level it 2-2 before Anae made a pair of great close-range saves. The second stop was rebounded by the Aztecs, however, and SDSU went up again with a 3-2 lead at 6:38 in the second period. That deficit seemed to officially awaken the Women of Troy, as they managed to get six different scorers in on the action during the second period. Sparked by the tying score coming from freshman Dominique Sardo, USC went on a 4-0 scoring run to take a lead it would not relinquish. Sarah Van Norman, Forel Davies and Patricia Jancso carried USC ahead 6-3 before SDSU got a score off a foul with 38 seconds left in the half. Not to be outdone, USC's Bekhazi hit Kristen Dronberger for a booming strike out of two meters, and USC was up 7-4 for halftime.
The Trojans remained clicking on all cylinders as they opened the second half of play. While the defense clamped down on the Aztecs, the USC offense rattled off five more goals. SDSU was rendered scoreless throughout the frame, thanks in part to saves from Anae and steals and field blocks from Jancso and Craig. Craig blasted her second goal of the period when she took a setup pass from Davies and rocketed in the score from set to get USC ahead 12-4 before the close of the third. In the final frame, USC goals kept coming, with an offspeed strike from Kiss, a blast from Jancso as the teams pulled even from a 6-on-5, and then a strike from Nicolina McCall at set that lifted USC ahead 15-4. After 10 saves in the cage, Anae was relieved by fellow goalie Courtney Ray. With seven seconds left in the game, SDSU earned and converted on a 5-meter penalty shot that rounded out the game as a 15-5 USC victory.
USC now sets up for a spot in tomorrow's semifinals, with the Trojans facing No. 3 seed Cal at 3 p.m. in Westwood.
2010 MPSF CHAMPIONSHIPS (Westwood, Calif.)