USC Comes Up Short Of Stanford In NCAA Semifinal 9-8|
May 9, 2015
PALO ALTO, CALIF. -- The USC women's water polo team ran out of time in its comeback bid against defending NCAA champ Stanford in today's NCAA Semifinals. The tournament host, the Cardinal had built a three-goal lead before the Trojans closed the gap down to one in the fourth period of play. Stanford would manage to hang on in the final seconds, however, clinging to its slim 9-8 lead to win it and make a move into tomorrow's title match. Now 23-6 overall, USC will go into the third-place game against California at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center.
USC's Monica Vavic and Brigitta Games each rattled in two goals for the Women of Troy. Games was also instrumental in earning ejections and a key 5-meter penalty shot for the Trojans. Early in the fourth, Games' hard work at set got USC a 5-meter penalty shot to pull within one. Stephania Haralabidis stepped up to the plate and hammered it home to nudge the score to 8-7 to ramp up the intensity for the final stretch.
After Stanford struck first to open the game, USC fired right back to equalize early on on a ripper from Monica Vavic. The Trojans would battle out of a two-goal deficit later, leveling it at 3-3 at the start of the second period with a zinger from Hayley McKelvey off a setup from Jennifer Stiefel. As the ejection count swayed in favor of the hosts, Stanford would work out ahead once again, with back-to-back 6-on-5 opportunities converted to go up 5-3. Before the close of the half, Stephania Haralabidis delivered a centering pass for senior Eike Daube, who sent in a laser to make it a one-goal game at halftime, with USC trailing 5-4.
The Cardinal would lead by as much as three goals, up 8-5 midway through the third, but USC narrowed the margin down to 8-7 early in the fourth. Another Cardinal conversion of a power play punched up a 9-7 lead for the hosts with 6:44 remaining in regulation, and the teams would trade stops and steals for the next few minutes. A big save from Victória Chamorro against a late Stanford 6-on-5 chance breathed new life into the Trojan cause, and in the final minute, USC got up on the 6-on-5 and found the finish from Brianna Daboub to cut the score down to one again at 9-8 with 47 seconds remaining. Stanford's ensuring shot would nail the post, but the Cardinal was there for the rebound with just a few ticks to go, able to run out the clock and hang on for the semifinal victory.
USC will face California tomorrow (May 10) at 3:30 p.m. at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center, while the Cardinal will face UCLA in the title match.
2015 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Avery Aquatic Center Palo Alto, Calif.)
SAVES: Victória Chamorro (USC) 8, Gabby Stone (STAN) 11.