Women's Water Polo
    No. 2 USC Steers Toward UCI Invitational
    Maddy Rosenthal has pumped in 11 goals in eight games for the Trojans.
    Maddy Rosenthal has pumped in 11 goals in eight games for the Trojans.

    Feb. 20, 2013

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    THIS WEEK
    The No. 2 USC women's water polo team carries an eight-match win streak into this year's UCI Invitational, where the Trojans (8-0) open up group play against No. 18 Pacific at 9 a.m. on Saturday (Feb. 23). USC will then cross over against either UC Santa Barbara or San Diego State that afternoon with eyes on a Sunday semifinal clash. The Trojans would play in the 11:45 a.m. semifinal on Sunday (Feb. 24) to fight for the right to move into the 5:15 p.m. championship match, which follows a 4 p.m. third-place game. All USC's matches will be played at UC Irvine.

    UCI INVITATIONAL CENTRAL

    RANKINGS
    USC opened 2013 ranked No. 2 in the nation, and the Women of Troy remain in that spot entering week five of competition.

    AT THE INVITE
    The 2013 UCI Invitational brings in 15 teams in the nation's top-18 for action at one of the most competitive early-season tournaments of the year. No. 6-ranked host UC Irvine will be joined by No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 USC, No. 3 UCLA, No. 4 California, No. 5 Arizona State, No. 7 San Diego State, No. 8 Hawai'i, No. 9 San Jose State, No. 13 UC Santa Barbara, No. 14 UC Davis, No. 15 Cal State Northridge, No. 16 LMU, No. 17 UC San Diego, No. 18 Pacific and unranked CSU Bakersfield. The Bruins stand as the defending champs after their win over the Cardinal in last year's title match.

    THIS TIME LAST YEAR
    USC entered the 2012 UCI Invitational as the No. 2-seeded defending champion with a 6-1 overall record. The Trojans came out of the gates strong with an 11-3 win over Long Beach State, then beat LMU 8-6 to move into the semifinals. There, USC was edged out 8-7 by UCLA to put the Trojans in the third-place match. USC would haul in third place with a 9-6 win over Cal to wrap up the 2012 tourney.

    LAST WEEK
    USC tacked up four more decisive wins last week during action at the Lancer Invitational in Riverside. USC sophomore Monica Vavic would keep up her multiple-goal efforts with no fewer than three goals in each game to help lead the Trojans to a 9-1 win over No. 11 Long Beach State and a 29-4 win over Azusa Pacific on Friday, then through a 22-3 win over Cal Baptist and a 24-6 win over Concordia on Saturday. Scoring was well distributed throughout the stretch, with 17 different Trojans getting to the back of the net while in Riverside. That included sophomore Sara Salamon and junior Kelly Mendoza's first career goals as Trojans, and senior Blair Moody's first career hat trick as highlights to the weekend effort. Defensively, USC averaged just 3.5 goals-against per game. Junior goalie Flora Bolonyai started out with nine saves and just one goal allowed in USC's opener against Long Beach State. She and freshman Alegra Hueso would share time in the cage the rest of the way through the weekend. Monica Vavic would be named MPSF Player of the Week for the second straight week after her 16 goals, seven assists and four ejections drawn during the four wins.

    TAKING THE TRITON TITLE
    USC got out of the gates as champions with a 4-0 start to 2013 play and a successful run to the 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. 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.

    CAPTAINS CORNER
    USC's captains this year are senior Dominique Sardo and junior Kaleigh Gilchrist, who each tote 62 career goals into this 2013 season. All-Americans both, the two Trojan veterans are lined up to lead the Women of Troy by word and deed this season.

    WORLD WARRIORS
    USC has an influx of incredible international talent this season. Freshly capped up for their first seasons as Trojans are Australian imports Jayde Appel and Hannah Buckling, along with Olympic gold medalist Anni Espar of Spain. Espar was named to the 2012 Olympic All-Star Team and also selected the European Women's Water Polo Player of the Year. Appel has been a member of the Australian Junior National Team, and Buckling is a member of the Australian Senior National Team. Even more international experience already lives large on the Trojan roster. Olympian Flora Bolonyai helped Hungary to a fourth-place finish in London, and the junior now returns to Troy to guard the cage as one of USC's most experienced and decorated goalies in history. A veteran crew of U.S. Junior National Team talent also shines bright for the Trojans, with sophomore Eike Daube a current member of the U.S junior team, and 2011 Junior World Championship teammates for the USA Kelly Mendoza, Colleen O'Donnell, Madeline Rosenthal, Dominique Sardo. Mendoza is another new addition to the Trojan roster for 2013, coming to Troy as a junior transfer from Cal. Sophomore Monica Vavic, too, also has spent time in international waters playing for the U.S. youth and junior teams.

    PARDON OUR DUST
    The home of the Trojans is a work in progress right now, but pool is still intact. USC has begun construction of the Uytengsu Aquatics Center, which will house the Trojan aquatics programs as well as feature a beautiful state-of-the-art facility that has already been tabbed as the site of the 2014 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championships. The Women of Troy will host three games at their home pool this season, so don't be tricked by the construction surrounding the pool... USC aquatics is still in full swing on campus!

    CARDINAL & GOLD PAIRS WELL WITH RED, WHITE & BLUE
    USC's decorated and championship-savvy water polo head coach, Jovan Vavic, added another team to his charge in being named interim head coach of the USA Men's Senior National Team, USA Water Polo's Chief Executive Officer Chris Ramsey announced In November 2012. The 11-time National Coach of the Year at the helm of both the USC men's and women's programs, Vavic stepped into the international realm in an effort to help Team USA qualify for the 2013 FINA World Championships. In his debut as interim head coach for Team USA Vavic, along with Trojan head assistant coach Marko Pintaric, successfully guided Team USA to qualification for the upcoming FINA World Championships. Leading a fairly young U.S. squad -- which included current Trojan Nikola Vavic and former Trojan Tommy Corcoran -- coach Vavic helped the United States to reach the final of the UANA World Aquatic Championship Qualification Tournament in order to secure a spot at Worlds. Vavic and Pintaric both have returned to USC to resume duties leading the USC women as they begin their 2013 season. Both coaches will remain on staff for the USC men and women.

    2012 RECAP
    The 2012 Women of Troy fought back to the NCAA final for the fourth time in the past five seasons. Seeded third in the tourney, USC beat rival UCLA 12-10 in the 2012 NCAA semifinals to force a rematch of the 2010 national championship game with a bout against top-seeded Stanford. The Cardinal won the title with 6-4 victory, putting the Trojans at 23-6 overall on the year as USC finished ranked No. 2 in the nation. The Trojans finished third in the MPSF Tournament. Led by freshman first-team selection Monica Vavic, the USC landed six All-Americans for the 2012 season, including a pair of newly crowned two-time All-Americans in second-team selection Flora Bolonyai and honorable mention recipient Nadia Dan. The rest of the group grabbed their first career honors, with sophomore Kaleigh Gilchrist on the second team, and sophomore Colleen O'Donnell and junior Dominique Sardo earning honorable mention. Gilchrist was the Trojans' top scorer in 2012 with 47 goals, followed by Vavic with 39. Bolonyai averaged 8.6 saves per game and 5.3 goals-against per game on the year. In all, the USC offense averaged 11.1 goals per game, while the defense allowed 5.2 goals-against per game. USC outscored opponents 321-151 in 2012. •