Women's Water Polo
    No. 2 Women of Troy Push On To Lancer Invitational
    Eike Daube is one of several impact freshmen for the Trojans in 2012.
    Eike Daube is one of several impact freshmen for the Trojans in 2012.

    Feb. 15, 2012

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    THIS WEEK
    The No. 2 USC women's water polo team gets in on more Invitational action this weekend with a trip to Riverside to play in the Lancer Invitational, hosted by Cal Baptist. The Trojans (3-1) will go up against Pacific at 1 p.m. and then faces Fresno Pacific at 2:20 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 17). On Sunday (Feb. 18), USC's double-header puts it up against host Cal Baptist at 10:20 a.m. and then Concordia at 11:40 a.m.

    IN THE RANKINGS
    USC opened 2012 tied at No. 3 in the nation alongside UCLA, but moved up to No. 2 on Feb. 8. The Trojans remain at No. 2 once again in this week's national rankings.

    LAST ACTION
    USC put forth an impressive showing at the 2012 Stanford Invitational in pinning up three powerful wins while taking one tight loss to top-ranked host Stanford. USC pounded No. 2 California 10-5 in the semifinals to capture third place in the tourney. The Trojans opened the invite with a split, following up a strong 14-6 win over No. 5 San Jose State with an 8-7 loss to No. 1 host Stanford. USC got out of the gates with a tight start against San Jose State before settling down and taking control on both ends of the pool, spreading the wealth among 10 different scorers in the game as they tugged out of a 3-3 lockup in the first period of play and amassed 10 goals across the second and third periods to put the Spartans out of reach. Defensively, the Trojans gave up just a single goal a frame to San Jose State after that first period.Against the top-ranked Cardinal in their home pool, USC stalled out in the first half, coming up scoreless in the first period of play before getting on the board in the second. Stanford, meanwhile, moved out to a 5-1 lead by halftime. The Trojans turned it around and put the pressure on the Cardinal in the second by eating into the lead with a six-goal second half, but Stanford managed to hold on for the win with an 8-7 edging of the Trojans. The following day, USC posted two strong wins to finish third in the tourney. USC held a 6-4 halftime lead on the Aggies before clamping down in the second half, leaping ahead 10-5 by the end of the third and then tallying three more in the fourth with another strong defensive stand to finish out a 13-6 win. Later in the afternoon, the Trojans stayed on point defensively. No. 2 California managed just a single goal in each of the first three periods while USC accumulated an 8-4 advantage going into the fourth. Kaleigh Gilchrist was USC's top scorer at the tournament with seven goals, including a hat trick against Cal. Chelsea Silvers was next with six goals, including a hat trick vs. San Jose State. Flora Bolonyai gathered in 23 saves at the tournament.

    BACK IN ACTION
    USC returns 65 percent of its scoring from last year, including two of its top-three scorers from 2011 in junior Patricia Jancso and senior Nadia Dan, who combined for 83 goals last season. Dan and Jancso both earned All-American honors in 2011 along with sophomore goalie Flora Bolonyai, who anchored the Trojans in every game to the tune of 7.9 saves per game and 6.7 goals-against per game. Along with Bolonyai back in the cage, USC also has 13 players back in the water who tallied at least one goal for the Women of Troy in 2011.

    CHAMPIONSHIP BASE
    USC is just one season removed from the 2010 national championship year, which eight current players experienced. Seniors Nadia Dan and Kara-Leigh Huse were sophomores in that campaign, and the rest are now juniors, giving Vavic a powerful base of knowledge to tap into as he constructs a a defensive-minded squad to get the Trojans back on top. USC's top scorer in 2011, Patricia Jancso and fellow junior Dominique Sardo were impact players as freshmen during that 2010 championship run. Constance Hiller, Nicolina McCall, Blair Moody and Chelsea Silvers also got plenty of pool time as freshmen that year and even more last season as sophomores. Now, that pack of upperclassmen are charged with putting that know-how and skill to good use this year.

    NEW CREW
    USC's class of newcomers is a powerful group. Jovan Vavic has combined the strength of Eike Daube at two-meters and Monica Vavic as an insightful distributor with scoring ability with the quickness of transfer Olivia Cummins and freshman drivers Michelle Caron and Savannah Fletcher, to set up the Trojans for a youth movement toward success.

    SOPHOMORE STRENGTH
    Versatility will be an important counter punch for the Trojans, who can now follow up the more experienced defensive system on one end with a blend of offensive strategies going the opposite direction. After all, Vavic also knows he can rely on the sophomore savvy of Kaleigh Gilchrist, Colleen O'Donnell and Madeline Rosenthal, who combined for 35 goals as freshmen. O'Donnell and Rosenthal got extra experience as well as members of the U.S. Junior National Team, along with junior Dominique Sardo, in the fall at the FINA Junior World Championships. Sophomore Jennifer Stiefel also was there, playing for Germany, as well as fellow sophomore Flora Bolonyai, who won silver with Team Hungary.

    BRONZE FOR BOLONYAI
    Sophomore goalie Flora Bolonyai brings back some hardware from overseas as she now jumps into collegiate waters with her Women of Troy. As the linchpin of the Hungarian National Team's defense, Bolonyai helped her team to a bronze medal at the European Championships last week in the Netherlands. In doing so, Hungary moves on to fight for a spot in the London Olympic Games with a spot at April's Olympic Qualification Tournament. Bolonyai started her decorated debut with Hungary's Senior National Team earlier in the year as she picked up honors as the Best Goalie of the Tournament at the Thetis Cup before moving into this latest major competition with Hungary at the European Championships.

    2011 RECAP
    After graduating five All-Americans from its 2010 NCAA CHampionship team, the 2011 Trojans finished 19-8 overall and 4-3 in MPSF play with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Tournament. The Women of Troy extended their streak of NCAA appearances to eight straight with 2011's trip to the tourney. Five Trojans earned All-American honors in 2011 as well, with seniors Joelle Bekhazi and Kristen Dronberger pocketing their third consecutive All-American awards. The decorated duo was joined by three other teammates on the All-American list as well -- Flora Bolonyai, Nadia Dan and Patricia Jancso. Jancso, Bekhazi, Dan and Dronberger were USC's top four scorers, respectively, in 2011. Bolonyai was USC's wall in the cage, earning herself All-America honors in her first season as a Trojan. USC outscored opponents 280-188 in 2011, averaging 10.3 goals per game offensively and 7.0 goals against per game defensively.