Trojans Blast Bruins 12-10 In NCAA Semifinal
May 12, 2012
SAN DIEGO, CALIF - The USC women's water polo team avenged a set of rough losses to its crosstown rival at the exact perfect time, serving up a resounding 12-10 win over UCLA in today's NCAA Semifinals in San Diego, Calif. The win - in which the Trojans led by as much as four goals - punches USC's ticket to the 2012 NCAA Championship match, where USC gets to seek revenge over top-seeded Stanford at 5:15 p.m. tomorrow (May 13) at the Aztec Aquaplex. It's the same matchup and same site of the Trojans' last national championship run. In 2010, USC topped the Cardinal in the final to win the program's third national championship. The 2012 Trojans improve to 23-5 overall with today's big semifinal win.
The first 11 minutes of today's USC-UCLA clash was neck-and-neck. By the three-minute mark of the second frame, USC already had the writing on the wall that this matchup with the Bruins would be different than the last. Two weeks earlier, UCLA had edged out the Trojans 4-3 in the MPSF Semifinals in a defensive battle. Today, the Trojans got offensive in a major way, led by four-goal efforts by both Monica Vavic and Patricia Jancso.
Early on, Kaleigh Gilchrist's efforts at the two-meter spot had combined with two blasts from Vavic, and then after UCLA evened things up 4-4 on a 6-on-5 in the second, USC set the tone with a rocket launched by Patricia Jancso to make it 5-4. The Trojan defense gave up no ground on the other end, forcing the Bruins to dump the ball, and USC made the most of the give-back. Up on a 6-on-5, Kaleigh Gilchrist sailed a cross pass to Monica Vavic, who zipped in some padding for the Trojans to make it 6-4. That strike notched a hat trick for freshman Vavic, and although UCLA finished off a power play in the final minute of the half to cut it to one, the Trojans came back in the second half with full-on vengeance on the agenda.
After trading scores in the first minute and a half - with Vavic tacking up her fourth of the day with a bar-in blast from distance - the Trojans would mount a push to leave the Bruins out of reach. First, up on another power play, USC's Jancso hit Chelsea Silvers for a nearside skipper and an 8-6 USC advantage. Jancso delivered another searing blast just over a minute later for a 6-on-5 strike and a three-goal Trojan lead. That advantage would hold through two more UCLA power play, thanks in part to a strong save from Flora Bolonyai.
That three-goal USC lead would balloon to four on two occasions in the final frame. Colleen O'Donnell delivered the long-range bullet off a foul to get it to 10-6 Trojans with 6:51 on the clock. UCLA snapped the three-goal scoring run 20 seconds later, but Jancso proved she was far from done making noise in this one. Impressive back-to-back scores from Jancso bulked up the Trojan lead to 12-8 with 4:53 remaining. Down the stretch, UCLA was able to manage two goals to make it respectable, but the Women of Troy had a decisive win in-hand and were well on their way to the national championship game.
USC will be making its fourth appearance in an NCAA title match in five years tomorrow. The Trojans will be looking to replicate the championship effort they displayed in 2010 in a 10-9 win over top-seeded Stanford. USC's three previous national championships have come in 1999, 2004 and 2010.
2012 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS (Aztec Aquaplex - San Diego, Calif.