USC's Balance Blasts Trojans Into NCAA Semifinal
May 11, 2007
LOS ALAMITOS, CALIF. - The USC women's water polo team opened the 2007 NCAA Championships with a balanced attack, getting 11 different Trojans in on the scoring action by game's end, where USC posted a 20-5 win over Hartwick. With the victory, USC moves a step closer to a national championship, entering a semifinal match against UCLA on Saturday at 6:45 p.m. at the USA Water Polo National Training Center in Los Alamitos, Calif. USC improves to 21-5 overall with Friday's victory over Hartwick.
Leading the scoring charge for USC were a trio of scorers who registered hat tricks in the game. For junior Alison Riddle and freshman Forel Davies, it was the first three-goal performance of their careers. Junior Veronika Bartunkova drilled her hat trick just moments before Davies completed hers, pushing the Trojans to their 20-5 final and providing some momentum to carry the Women of Troy into the semifinal clash with UCLA.
USC has faced UCLA three times already this season, with each meeting ending in a one-goal loss for the Trojans. The Women of Troy and the Bruins also faced off in the 2006 NCAA championship game, where UCLA edged out USC with a last-second goal to claim the national title.
In the Hartwick match, USC made sure to put some safe distance between itself and the Hawks. Behind scores from nine different Trojan hands, USC peeled out to a 10-0 lead in the first half before Hartwick was finally able to get to the back of the net. By halftime, however, USC had pulled back out to a 10-goal lead with an 11-1 advantage. To that point, Cardenas and Miranda Nichols were the only Women of Troy with multiple goals, while the USC defense - backed up by goalie Whitney Morgan's nine saves in the half - turned away three Hartwick 6-on-5 opportunities. Meanwhile, USC power play chances were effective. In the third period, USC finished off three straight 6-on-5 situations. Brittany Hayes sparked things with an even score off a pass from Kally Lucas for a 12-2 USC lead, and then Bartunkova, Riddle and Michelle Stein each pumped in power play strikes to build a 15-2 lead for USC.
With freshman Tumua Anae in the cage, USC's defense remained stingy. Hartwick managed two goals in each of the final two periods, while the Trojan offense closed out the game with a five-goal fourth period. A pair from Riddle came the junior her first career three-goal game and a 17-5 USC lead. Davies tacked up another two to complete her hat trick, and Bartunkova delivered her third with a slick lob shot. By the final buzzer, USC had tallied 11 different scorers, marking its eighth game this season with at least 10 scorers and the second game this year scoring 20 or more goals.
USC's semifinal game against UCLA is set for 6:45 p.m. on Saturday (May 12) in Los Alamitos. Playing in the other semifinal will be Stanford and San Diego State at 5 p.m.
#3 USC 20, #12 Hartwick 5