Women's Water Polo
    Trojans Take Over No. 1, Head Back North For MPSF Play
    Moriah Van Norman now boasts 175 career goals at USC.
    Moriah Van Norman now boasts 175 career goals at USC.

    Feb. 15, 2006

    THIS WEEK: The top-ranked Women of Troy kick off Mountain Pacific Sports Federation competition this weekend with another trip to the Bay Area. The Trojans pay a visit to No. 6 California for a 6 p.m. game in Berkeley on Saturday (Feb. 18), and then travel to Stockton to facePacific at noon on Sunday (Feb. 19).

    RANKINGS: USC (6-0) has moved up to No. 1 in the most recent national poll. California (3-3, 1-0 MPSF)) is ranked No. 6, and Pacific (0-2, 0-2) is unranked.

    WEEKEND RECAP: Then ranked No. 2, the Women of Troy started the 2006 season off right by powering its way to the Stanford Invitational championship with a 10-8 win over top-ranked UCLA. The No. 2 Women of Troy clamped down on the Bruins in the fourth quarter, holding UCLA scoreless while punching in two more goals to break an 8-8 tie and nail down the tournament crown. The Trojans were equally effective during group play, as they rolled through all comers to gain momentum for the title match. The Trojans got a powerful start to the Invitational action with a 13-4 win over No. 11 San Jose State in the morning, then notched a 9-7 victory over host Stanford in the afternoon. To close out group play, USC went up against No. 7 Michigan on Sunday morning and took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter to lock away a 16-3 win. Moriah Van Norman and Patty Cardenas each hit high marks during the weekend, as VanNorman punched in four goals against Michigan, and Cardenas matched that output witha four-goal performance against UCLA. The win marks USC's second Stanford Invitational victory. The Trojans last won the tourney crown in 2004 when the Women of Troy went on to win the NCAA Championship.

    USC VS. CAL: USC is 13-16 all-time against the Bears. The Trojans posted wins of 12-4, and 12-8 over Cal last season.

    USC VS. PACIFIC: USC has never lost to the Tigers, boasting a 12-0 all-time record. The teams faced once last season, with the Trojans posting a 13-3 victory in MPSF play.

    GOODNIGHT AND GOOD LUCK: USC has been taking care of business in the fourth quarter lately, having locked away big wins over Stanford and UCLA last week with stingy fourth-period defense. The Women of Troy didn't give up more than a single goal in the final frame during all four games at the Stanford Invitational. Against UCLA, the Trojans pitched a shutout while tacking up a pair of goals of their own to lock away the championship and snap UCLA's 39-game winning streak.

    PATTY'S DAY: Junior Patty Cardenas didn't waste much time proving herself as an impact player in her first year with the Women of Troy. A newcomer from Golden West College whose transfer was on kept on hold for a season, Cardenas turned plenty of heads at the Stanford Invitational when she made UCLA heads spin with a four-goal outburst against the Bruins that helped the Trojans clamp down on the tournament championship. For her efforts at the tourney, Cardenas was named MPSF Mikasa Player of the Week.

    MORGAN ON HER MARK: Redshirt freshman goalie Whitney Morgan saw the first action of her Trojan career at the Stanford Invitational. Morgan capped up for all four games and set a high mark for her USC career with 10 saves against Michigan on Feb. 12. She finished the tournament averaging 6.5 saves per game.

    SUPER SENIORS: Five Women of Troy are closing out their USC playing careers this season: Alex Lopez, Anna Pardo, Bianca Simonetti, Moriah Van Norman and Lauren Wenger. Lopez and Simonetti both redshirted a season at Troy, but will graduate after the 2006 season. Pardo entered USC as a sophomore from Spain and has been a vital member of USC's gameplan as a staunch defender and powerful scorer with 65 career goals. Van Norman has been USC's go-to player at two meters and sits as the Trojans' all-time fifth leading scorer with 168 career goals. Wenger was USC's second leading scorer as a junior and boasts 94 career goals.

    INTERNATIONAL WATERS: Several members of the 2006 Trojan squad have been spending busy summers well outside the confines of Troy. USC sent four current players to the 2005 World Championships -- three as members of the USA's silver-medalist squad, and one member of Spain's national team. Senior Anna Pardo has played in two world championships with Spain as a mainstay on the Spanish national team. Seniors Moriah Van Norman and Lauren Wenger and junior Erika Figge all helped the U.S. National Team claim silver at this 2005 Worlds. That threesome as well as junior Brittany Hayes and freshman Kami Craig all continue to train with the U.S. National Team as Team USA works toward a third Olympic medal at the 2008 Games.

    VAVIC ON DECK: Head coach Jovan Vavic, one of the top water polo coaches in the country, serves a dual role as the head coach of both the USC men's and women's teams. He has been with the USC women's program since its inception in 1995, and has led his men's and women's teams to national championships twice in the same school year (the men in 1998 and 2003 and the women in 1999 and 2004). In his 11th season at the helm of the men's program, Vavic led the Trojans to the 2005 NCAA Men's Water Polo Championship. His 2006 Women of Troy have an equally good opportunity to grab their third national championship this season. Vavic brings a 250-95 all-time record on the women's side into his the 2006 season -- his 12th as the women's head coach. Vavic pulled a coaching double sweep when he was named 2003 National Coach of the Year and MPSF Coach of the Year for the men and 2004 National Coach of the Year and MPSF Coach of the Year for the women, and he was named 2005 MPSF and National Coach of the Year once again on the men's side following the Trojans' most recent NCAA title. His 2004 women's team became the first team in NCAA Championship history to go undefeated (29-0) during the regular season.