No. 1 USC Kicks Off 2014 Campaign At Triton Invitational
Women of Troy begin their NCAA championship defense with a trip to San Diego this weekend.
Feb. 7, 2014
2014 SEASON OUTLOOK
THIS WEEKTRITON INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
The top-ranked USC women's water polo team officially begins defense of the Trojans' 2013 NCAA Championship when they kick off 2014 action this weekend. The Women of Troy open season with a journey to San Diego for competition at the Triton Invitational on Feb. 8 and 9. USC's 2014 campaign will begin with group play on Saturday, as USC starts with an 8 a.m. matchup against Sonoma State. A win there would move USC into a clash against either Indiana or Cal State Northridge at 2:40 p.m. that afternoon. As long as the Trojans can win out on day one, they will advance to an 11:10 a.m. semifinal on Sunday to play for a place in the 5:50 p.m. title match.
USC IN THE RANKINGS
USC opened 2014 ranked No. 1 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. The Trojans haven't moved from that top spot in the land as they now enter their first official action of the year.
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
USC got out of the gates in as champions with a 4-0 start to 2013 play and a successful run to last year's UCSD Triton Invitational title. The Women of Troy topped San Diego State 12-3 in the semifinals, then steered toward victory again in a 13-6 championship win over Arizona State last weekend in San Diego. That ticket to the title match was punched with a solid semifinal effort against No. 7 San Diego State in the Trojans' morning matchup. USC built a 3-0 lead and when the Aztecs cut the lead down to one the Trojans responded with a now-trademark streak out of reach. USC manufactured a 7-0 scoring run that spanned halftime, with Kaleigh Gilchrist and Eike Daube each blasting a pair of goals during the surge to a 10-2 lead with 3:29 to play in the third. SDSU would stop the run at seven with a score at the 2:25 mark, but the Trojan defense would allow nothing more from the Aztecs the rest of the way. Goalie Flora Bolonyai would pitch a shutout in the fourth frame, while USC tallied one in the fourth from Hannah Buckling, and the Trojans were decidedly through to the final with a 12-3 win. In the evening's final, USC never trailed, but did have to shake off a 3-3 tie with the Sun Devils during the first frame. The Trojans wrapped two three-goal surges around a single ASU strike to pad USC's advantage out to a five-goal edge just after halftime. The attack was again balanced for the Women of Troy, with seven different players scoring in the 13-6 decision. Vavic was the top gun in this one, knocking in four goals for the Trojans, with Jayde Appel, Madeline Rosenthal and Dominique Sardo each tallying a pair in the championship victory. USC had jumped all over its first two opponents of 2013 in a pair of balanced wins by the Women of Troy on day one of the Triton Invitational in San Diego. USC had kicked out to a 2-0 start to the season with wins over Cal State East Bay and Cal State Northridge on the first day of action, compiling a grand total of 35 goals. In a 26-4 win over Cal State East Bay, 13 different scorers got to the back of the net for the Trojan cause, led by four from Monica Vavic and hat tricks from Madeline Rosenthal, Olivia Cummins and Emilie Myers. Myers was one of three Women of Troy to tally their first career goals at USC in the game, with fellow freshmen Jayde Appel and Courtney Walters also tallying for the Trojans. In the afternoon matchup with Cal State Northridge, USC newcomer Hannah Buckling struck first to notch her first goal as a Trojan en route to a 9-2 win over the Matadors. Monica Vavic would emerge as the top scorer at the tourney with 14 goals and eight assists to help earn her first career honors as the MPSF Player of the Week.
The 2014 edition of the Triton Invitational has 16 teams landing in San Diego to vie for one of the first tournament titles of the year. The top-ranked Trojans are joined by 12 other ranked teams and three unranked squads. USC is grouped with No. 13 Indiana, No. 16 Cal State Northridge and Sonoma State for the first day of play. The rest of the field for the weekend includes No. 5 UC Irvine, No. 6 UC San Diego, No. 8 San Diego State, No. 10 Arizona State, No. 11 LMU, No. 12 Long Beach State, No. 15 UC Davis, No. 16 UC Santa Barbara, No. 19 Hartwick, No. 20 Santa Clara and Cal State East Bay and Marist.
2014 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
USC is coming off a 2013 season in which the Trojans posted a 27-1 overall record, culminating the season by knocking off defending champ Stanford 10-9 in triple sudden death overtime for the 2013 NCAA Championship at Harvard. En route to winning their fourth national championship, the Trojans also won the 2013 MPSF Tournament championship with a win over the Cardinal in that title match. This season, USC returns 2013 MPSF Player of the Year and All-American Monica Vavic, who poured in 77 goals last year, along with senior All-Americans Flora Bolonyai at goalkeeper, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Madeline Rosenthal and Kelly Mendoza. Named the 2013 National Coach of the Year, USC head coach Jovan Vavic now enters his 20th season at the helm of the Trojan women's water polo program.