USC Hammers Out Another NCAA Semifinal Spot, Topping Hawai'i 14-7|
May 8, 2015
PALO ALTO, CALIF. -- The USC women's water polo team punched up a powerful 14-7 win over Hawai'i to secure a spot in the NCAA Semifinals. The Trojans got 11 different scorers in on the action in today's quarterfinal to keep the Rainbow Wahine well out of reach at Avery Aquatic Center. Monica Vavic, Brigitta Games and Brianna Daboub each scored two goals in the winning effort, with Vavic taking over as the MPSF's all-time leading scorer as she now boasts 287 career goals in her Trojan career. Now with a 23-5 overall record, USC sets up to square off against host Stanford in a 5:15 p.m. semifinal tomorrow (May 9) to fight for a spot in the title match.
USC's well-balanced effort involved a couple of five-goal scoring surges that created some key space on the Rainbow Wahine. After taking a 2-0 lead on scores from Jayde Appel and Ioanna Haralabidis, Hawai'i got on the board after three minutes of play. USC would respond with a powerful push out of reach. Five new Trojans got in on the scoring action to muster up a run that took the Trojans to a 7-1 lead in the second period. Monica Vavic, Brigitta Games and Brianna Daboub all nabbed their first goals of the game during that rally, joined by Stephania Haralabidis and Eike Daube with some powerful blasts to craft that advantage. Hawai'i would stop the run in the final minute of the half, but USC was still gripping a healthy 7-2 advantage at halftime.
The second half opened with a couple defensive stops by the Trojans and then another 6-on-5 save from goalie Victória Chamorro. Hawai'i would break through later in the 6-on-5, though, making it 7-3. USC struck back when Daube hit Avery Peterson for a blast that to USC up 8-3, and while the Rainbow Wahine would convert on a power play next, the Trojans would get rolling on another scoring rally. Daboub finished off a nifty cross from Ioanna Haralabidis with a crosscage rocket to spark the run. Appel put up a booming field block at one end, and the Vavic would whip in her second with a ripper that made it 10-4 Trojans. At the same time, the senior registered her 287th career goal, setting a new scoring record in the MPSF history books. Already USC's all-time top scorer, Vavic now stands as the conference's scoring leader.
Before the end of the third, freshman Sydney Blubaugh would hammer home a score from the top to get USC an 11-4 lead to take into the fourth. Fellow freshman Hayley McKelvey notched another one for the Trojan cause to open the fourth, and the Jenny Stiefel served up a centering pass to Games for the turn and finish and a 13-4 USC lead with 5:50 left to play. The Rainbow Wahine would make the most of the 6-on-5 advantage they earned the rest of the way, while USC sophomore Nikki Stansfield became the Trojans' 11th scorer on the day as the game finished out as a 14-7 USC victory. In all, 10- of USC's 14 goals in the game were scored by freshmen or sophomores.
The Trojans now head into an NCAA semifinal appearance for the 12th consecutive year. USC will face tournament host Stanford at 5:15 p.m. tomorrow (May 9) at Avery Aquatic Center in the 2015 semifinals.
2015 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Avery Aquatic Center Stanford, Calif.)