USC Wraps Up NCAA Action With Third Place Win Over Cal
May 11, 2014
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- It wasn't the game that the defending NCAA champions had planned to play in, but the USC women's water polo team still ended its season in victory. Playing in the third-place game at the 2014 NCAA Tournament, the No. 3 seeded Women of Troy whipped up a solid 11-8 win over No. 4 seed California today at USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The winning finish wraps a successful 2014 season for the Trojans, who posted a 26-4 overall record on the year.
USC's six seniors -- Flora Bolonyai, Olivia Cummins, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Kelly Mendoza, Colleen O'Donnell and Madeline Rosenthal -- were making their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, having won the 2013 national championship last season. In four seasons of work, Bolonyai moved up to take over as USC's all-time career saves leader. She pinned up her 15th double-digit save outing of the year with 11 saves today to finish her time as a Trojan with a record 895 career saves. Gilchrist, too, worked her way into the history books. With a goal today, Gilchrist bumped her career count up to 142 to stand at No. 10 all-time in career goals. All six seniors made their marks in their final game. O'Donnell added a goal, while Cummins won sprints, Mendoza delivered field blocks and Rosenthal nabbed steals for the Trojan cause today.
USC jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first frame, with Eike Daube wielding a big gun for the Trojans today. She'd blast the first goal -- on her way to a hat trick on the day -- and Jennifer Stiefel whipped in the next to take the Trojans to a 2-0 advantage. Cal would get on the board with a 5-meter penalty shot to open the second frame, only to see Daube rifle in her second with a strike to the left side. Cal made things interesting with back-to-back goals to level things at 3-3 with 2:37 to go until halftime, but Daube had the last word. Her third of the game was a ripper that nudged USC ahead 4-3. Bolonyai served up a save to close the half, and USC was ready to make even more moves.
Jayde Appel earned a 6-on-5 chance for the Trojans out of the gates, prompting Gilchrist to take her place in the all-time top-10 with a rocket that got USC back to a two-goal lead. After a Rosenthal interception, Daube earned a USC power play next. The hot hand shifted from Daube to Monica Vavic in the second half, and Vavic nailed her first of three goals with a nearside strike that bumped USC ahead 6-3. Cal would convert on a 6-on-5 of its own on the Bears' next possession, only to see some new Trojans step into the scoring column. Mendoza set up USC with another 6-on-5, and this one was promptly finished off by the deft left hand of Stephania Haralabidis. That would spark a four-goal surge by the Trojans, who next followed a Bolonyai save with a searing score from O'Donnell. Another Bolonyai stop sent the ball the other way, where Vavic eventually swept in a crosscage skipper to make it 9-4 USC entering the fourth period of play.
There, Gilchrist opened things up with a field block, and Vavic nailed her third goal to get the score to a daunting 10-4 Trojan advantage. Cal snapped the four-goal run with a crosscage lob from Roser Tarrago with 2:29 to go, but USC kept coming. USC's 11th of the day came from freshman Ioanna Haralabidis. Up 11-5 at that point, USC head coach Jovan Vavic emptied his bench to give the entire roster some extra NCAA experience. Cal was able to knock in the last three goals in the final stretch to end the game as an 11-8 USC victory.
2014 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS