Women's Water Polo
    No. 3 USC Ramps Up For Action At UCI Invitational

    The Women of Troy get ready to defend their UCI crowns this weekend!
    Feb. 18, 2015

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    USC sets up defense of back-to-back UCI Invitational championships this weekend, lined up for the 2015 edition of the tournament as the No. 3 seeded team in the draw. The Women of Troy carry a 10-0 record into the event, which has USC opening up against No. 18 UC Santa Barbara at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 21) at Corona del Mar High School. A win there would put the Trojans up against the winner of that morning's matchup between No. 6 Arizona State and No. 10 San Diego State to play for a spot in Sunday's semifinals. With a victorious first day, the Trojans would set themselves up for a 10:30 a.m. semifinal on Sunday (Feb. 22) at UC Irvine. That afternoon, the tournament championship game is set for 5:15 p.m. preceded by a 4 p.m. third-place game.

    UC Santa Barbara3
    February 21, 2009
    Irvine, Calif.

    USC opened 2015 ranked No. 3 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. Now five weeks into the season, the undefeated Trojans remain ranked as the nation's No. 3 team.

    USC was a force to reckon with last week at the Lancer Invitational. In four wins posted in Riverside, the Trojans outscored opponents 106-9. USC opened the event with a 14-3 win over host Cal Baptist and then more than doubled that scoring effort in its next three games. A evening clash with Redlands saw the Trojans pin up a 31-0 shutout. The next day, USC posted a 30-4 win over Pomona-Pitzer and then closed with a 31-2 victory over Occidental. USC's 31-goal scoring onslaught against Redlands and Occidental marked the second most goals ever scored by the Trojans in a single game in program history. USC set the record in its first game of the year -- a 33-5 win over Bakersfield. The last USC shutout victory was last season against CSUN. With eight goals scored one the first day, USC senior Monica Vavic ousted Olympian Sofia Konoukh to take over the No. 2 all-time spot in career scoring at USC. In the shutout of Redlands, while USC's defensive prowess stayed the course, a whopping 17 different Women of Troy wound up getting to the back of the net. Credit goalies Victória Chamorro and Alegra Hueso with a combined effort for the defensive shutout in the cage. Some more history was made on day two when Monica Vavic set a USC record in notching a nine-goal game. That beat the previous top mark of eight single-game goals, which Vavic hit earlier this season to tie the record set in 2001 by Aniko Pelle. Pelle happens to also hold the record for career goals scored by a Trojan, having tallied 255 in her USC to lead Vavic, who now holds 241 after her nine vs. Pomona-Pitzer and then five more in the afternoon match against Occidental.

    The 2015 UCI Invitational brings in 16 of the nation's top-20 ranked teams for action in the 16-team field for one of the most competitive early-season tournaments of the year. No. 5-ranked host UC Irvine will be joined by No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 USC, No. 4 California, No. 6 ASU, No. 7 Hawai'i, No. 8 San Jose State, No. 9 CSUN, No. 10 San Diego State, No. 13 UC Davis, No. 14 Michigan, No. 16 UC San Deigo, No. 18 UC Santa Barbara, No. 19 Pacific and No. 20 LMU. The Trojans stand as the defending champs after their 7-6 win over UCLA in last year's title match.

    USC made a statement last year with its surge to a second consecutive UCI Invitational title. The Trojans again went big on day one in securing their place in Sunday's semifinals with two strong wins on Saturday. There, USC topped CSU Bakersfield 21-1 before taking out No. 10 Cal State Northridge 12-5. That put USC in a semifinal bout against No. 4 California, and the Trojans were up to the task. Freshman Stephania Haralabidis delivered her first four-goal game to lead the Trojans, with Eike Daube delivering a fourth-quarter hat trick to further charge up USC. The Trojans' balance kept them out of reach of the Bears, as USC crafted a strong 12-7 win over the Bears. That moved the Trojans into the title match against an upset-minded UCLA squad that had just served up a big win over No. 2 Stanford. In the title match, the Bruins registered the first goal of the game and would put USC in a 2-0 hole out of the gates before Madeline Rosenthal drew first blood for the Trojans with a score from the post during the first frame. The second period would go scoreless until freshman Stephania Haralabidis leveled the score with a strike 20 seconds before halftime hit. In the third, UCLA took a 3-2 lead, but this time Ioanna Haralabidis would come through with the equalizer for the Trojans, locking it a 3-3 with 3:34 on the clock. Colleen O'Donnell bounced USC into the lead for the first time with a score during the third, and she'd pad it out to a 5-3 advantage early in the fourth. The Bruins cut it down to 5-4 with 1:37 to go, and UCLA would get up on a 6-on-5 in the final minute, converting to lock the game back up 5-5 with just five seconds left in regulation. That brought up overtime, where UCLA scored its third straight to take a 6-5 lead midway through the first frame of OT. In the second, the Trojans buckled down. Winners of a triple sudden-death overtime in the 2013 NCAA Championship game, the Women of Troy remained resolute and focused. Just 42 seconds into the second overtime period, Eike Daube whipped in a crosscage score to pull USC even at 7-7. It wasn't long until Daube would deliver again, striking a skipper to take a 7-6 advantage that would hold the rest of the way as USC successful fended off the Bruins to capture the championship.

    Through these first 10 games of 2015, USC is outscoring opponents 229-30, leading the MPSF in offense and defense to date. Senior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 50 goals as she has climbed to No. 2 all-time in career scoring (241 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is sophomore Stephania Haralabidis with 35 goals, followed by Ioanna Haralabidis with 24 and junior newcomer Melissa Bergesen with 19. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable new anchor in freshman goalie Victória Chamorro, who is averaging 6.7 saves per game and 3.1 goals-against per game in her nine appearances to date.

    During USC's winning effort at the Lancer Invitational, freshman Brianna Daboub was a perfect 8-for-8 on the offensive end of the pool. Her eight goals across the four games helped USC improve to 10-0 on the year, and also earned her the honor of MPSF Newcomer of the Week.Daboub had scored just three goals in USC's previous six games coming into the Lancer Invitational, but stepped up and scored two goals in the opener against host Cal Baptist. She'd add another goal that day in a win over Redlands, and then upped her scoring game further the next day. Daboub delivered her first career hat trick in a win over Pomona-Pitzer and then scored twice in a win over Occidental to wrap the event with eight goals on eight attempts. It was Daboub's first career award as a Trojan, making her the second USC newcomer to win the award this season. Fellow freshman Victória Chamorro earned the honor on Feb. 10.

    USC's youth movement is showing its strength, with sophomore Stephania Haralabidis named MPSF Player of the Week and freshman goalie Victória Chamorro named MPSF Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 10 for their roles in helping the Trojans claim the Triton Invitational championship. Haralabidis was an offensive force for the Women of Troy, while Chamorro backed up the USC defense to great success. The respective MPSF honors are the first of each Trojans' career. Haralabidis twice won Newcomer of the Week honors last season as a freshman. Haralabidis had a huge final day at the Triton Invitational to help power the Trojans to the tournament title. She scored five goals in the semifinal win over No. 11 CSUN and then replicated that with another five goals tallied in the championship victory over No. 6 UC Irvine. Hot out of the gates in both games, Haralabidis had four goals in the books by halftime vs. CSUN and a first-period hat trick against UCI. She'd finish out the tournament with 14 total goals after providing two apiece in wins over Cal State East Bay and Long Beach State on the first day of competition. Chamorro set a career best for herself in hauling in 15 saves during USC's Triton Invitational championship victory over No. 6 UC Irvine. Chamorro went the full four quarters in that one, which USC won 10-5. She'd finish out the tournament with 27 total saves in her 13 periods of work, having played the first three frames in each of the first three games at the tourney. In all, Chamorro allowed just 11 goals during the tournament.

    In USC's first games of 2015, Monica Vavic got out to a career-best start. She plugged in a career-high eight goals in the Trojans' season-opening win over CSU Bakersfield and then added six more goals in a win over Cal Baptist at the UCLA Invitational. For her powerful kickoff to her senior season, Vavic was selected the MPSF Player of the Week on Jan. 20. Along with her grand total of 14 goals, Vavic also contributed eight assists and seven steals in her five periods of work across the two wins. Vavic served up five assists in the 33-5 win over the Roadrunners and then had three more assists in the 24-3 win over Cal Baptist. Her eight goals scored in the opener matched the most goals in a single game by an MPSF player since 2007 and the most by a Trojan since Aniko Pelle in 2001.

    Senior Monica Vavic continues to creep up the career ladder at Troy. Now with 241 career goals, Vavic ranks as USC's No. 2 all-time leading scorer. Thanks to her incredible scoring pace this year, she stands to take over as USC's all-time leader, needing just 15 more goals to do so. Currently, Olympian Aniko Pelle holds the top mark of 255 career goals. Vavic also is making her mark in the MPSF history books. She now ranks at No. 8 all-time in the conference. Pelle, by comparison, is No. 5 all-time in the MPSF, with the top conference scorer listed as Pacific's Molly Smith with 286 career goals. Vavic has already tacked up one new record for herself, having scored a USC and MPSF record of nine goals in a single game with her effort on Feb. 14 vs. Pomona-Pitzer.

    USC's three returning All-Americans alone have proven they can provide serious firepower. Monica Vavic topped the charts in 2014 with 75 goals on her way to a third straight selection as an All-American. Eike Daube and Stephania Haralabidis were first-time All-American honorees last season, having served up a combined 102 goals in weighing in as USC's next most prolific scorers. All told, six of USC's top eight scorers are back for more in 2015. Seniors Daube, Vavic and Jennifer Stiefel were right in that mix last season. Stiefel punched in 31 goals; Daube was third on the team with 44 goals; and Vavic's 75 goals pumped up her career tally to 205 to rank her No. 6 all-time in career scoring -- just 50 goals shy of the all-time record. Fueling the offensive fire further are now-sophomores Stephania and Ioanna Haralablidis, whose 58 and 33 respective goals as freshmen make them key elements for 2015 as well, along with junior Jayde Appel, who struck 25 goals last year. Needless to say, USC has an adept ability to score.

    USC's backbone for the last four seasons has been in the cage. Olympian and four-time All-American goalie Flora Bolonyai has now graduated, leaving the defensive duties to a new international import. Brazilian national teamer Victória Chamorro takes over as USC's starting goalie, backed up by returners Alegra Hueso and Melanie Slater, who both got in good game action last season. Vavic sees Chamorro as a burgeoning talent for the Trojans.

    2015 OUTLOOK
    Twenty years ago, Jovan Vavic got the ball officially rolling for women's water polo at USC. Fair to say, that ball just continues to pick up speed. Under Vavic's guidance, the Women of Troy have won four national championships since that inaugural 1995 season. And ever since winning their second title in 2004, Vavic's Trojans have reached the NCAA Tournament every single season while capturing two more crowns along the way. This year, the USC women show no signs of losing any of that postseason steam. Besides coach Vavic, there are three Women of Troy who have already had a taste of NCAA Championship glory. Junior Jayde Appel and senior All-Americans Eike Daube and Monica Vavic were all three members of USC's 2013 national championship team. Their veteran savvy provides the groundwork for this 2015 roster, which is also replete with plenty of talented youth to help drive USC back toward a 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA tourney after a third-place finish last season and a 26-4 overall mark.