No. 1 USC Blasts Back To NCAA Title Match
May 11, 2013
BOSTON, MASS. -- The top-seeded USC women's water polo team made another power move into the NCAA title match with a strong 16-9 win over No. 4 seed Hawai'i today in the NCAA Semifinals at Harvard's Blodgett Pool. The Trojans swamped the Rainbow Wahine with another widespread attack, rattling off seven straight goals from the hands of seven different Trojans to put Hawai'i out of reach early. That effort, coupled with a whopping 13 saves from goalie Flora Bolonyai, propelled the Women of Troy back to the NCAA title match, where USC will take aim at a fourth national championship tomorrow (May 12). USC could well face Stanford in a rematch of the 2012 NCAA final when teams splash down in the title match at 5:15 p.m. ET in Boston, Mass.
Leading the scoring front today were Kaleigh Gilchrist and Jayde Appel, who each finished with hat tricks in the game. Gilchrist's three-goal day bumped the junior into the all-time top-20 career scoring list at USC. She's up to No. 19 all-time with 107 career goals with today's effort. But Gilchrist was far from the only Trojan slicing in slick scores today. True, her 6-on-5 strike got USC the early lead after Hawai'i came out of the gates with a goal to take the first advantage. Monica Vavic would equalize things barely 15 seconds later, though, sparking that seven-goal surge by the Women of Troy that saw seven Trojans strike the back of the net. Gilchrist's go-ahead goal was followed by a 5-meter penalty shot finished off by Anni Espar, a 6-on-5 goal from Hannah Buckling, a rocket from Nicolina McCall and a counterattack finish from Kelly Mendoza to take USC ahead 6-1 after one period of play. Making it a seven-goal push was senior Chelsea Silvers, who struck out of the gates for USC to make it 7-1 Trojans.
Hawai'i would stop the run by converting a 5-meter penalty shot, and later was awarded another at the close of the half as USC held a 10-4 lead at halftime. Jayde Appel had plugged in her first goal of the game during the second period of play, and she'd go back-to-back in the third to carry USC ahead 13-5 with 3:49 to go in the frame. Coming up big with two huge saves late in the quarter was Bolonyai, who knocked down a Hawai'i 6-on-5 shot and later a tough backhand attempt just before the buzzer. She'd finish with 13 saves in the game, matching her season high.
In the final frame, Hawai'i got a few more goals to go, but Dominique Sardo snuck in two more Trojan goals and Gilchrist capped off one last USC 6-on-5 series as the match finished up as a 16-9 USC win.
USC is now set to play in its third NCAA final in the past four years, with USC's last national championship coming in 2010 when the Trojans beat Stanford.
2013 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Blodgett Pool Boston, Mass.)
Semifinals - May 11, 2013
SAVES: Flora Bolonyai (USC) 13, Amy Carlson (UH) 0, Hannah Hogue (UH) 3.