No. 1 USC Travels To Tempe For MPSF Opener At ASU
Women of Troy kick off conference play with a road trip to face the No. 5 Sun Devils on Saturday.
Feb. 26, 2014
USC Water Polo Release
The top-ranked USC women's water polo team reign supreme as the early-season victors following the Trojans' run to the 2014 UCI Invitational Championship last weekend. Now, USC turns from busy four-games-in-two-days weekends to a single-game stint with a road trip this week. The No. 1 Women of Troy take their perfect 12-0 record over to Tempe for their first MPSF matchup of the year, taking on No. 5 Arizona State in a 1 p.m. clash on Saturday (March 1).
USC IN THE RANKINGS
THE LAST MEETING
|Arizona State (Semifinals)||4
February 9, 2014
San Diego, Calif.
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 the sixth week of 2014 competition.
USC made a statement last week 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 built a 4-1 lead in the first frame and carried a 6-3 advantage into the second half. After an even third period, USC's lead was still a strong three goals going into the final stanza. There, the Trojans flexed a little more muscle and plugged in four more goals before the final buzzer sounded on 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. That game opened as a defensive battle in comparison to the high-scoring affairs the Women of Troy had been posting on the way in. 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.
The No. 5 Sun Devils are 9-4 overall after going 3-1 at the UCI Invitational last week. ASU opened with a 19-15 win over San Jose State before taking an 11-10 loss to Stanford in group play. The next day, ASU beat UC San Diego 10-4 and finished with a 9-8 sudden-death win over host UC Irvine. Alkestis Benekou is ASU's top scorer and second in the MPSF with 3.0 goals per game. Goalie E.B. Keeve is averaging 12.62 saves and 7.2 goals-against per game. USC is 19-1 all-time against ASU with a 13-game win streak heading into this week's game. Last season, the Trojans beat the Sun Devils three times, starting with a 13-6 win at the Triton Invitational, then an 11-7 win in MPSF play and finally an 11-5 win in the MPSF Tournament semifinal.
Following the top-ranked Trojans' powerful run to the 2014 UCI Invitational championship last weekend, USC made it an MPSF sweep of the weekly awards. Junior Eike Daube has locked in her first career selection as the MPSF Player of the Week, and freshman Stephania Haralabidis has hauled in her first collegiate award as the MPSF Newcomer of the Week. Daube went big for the Trojans on the crucial second day of the UCI Invitational, delivering a fourth-quarter hat trick to help lead the Trojans to a 12-7 semifinal win over No. 4 Cal before coming up clutch in the championship game. Daube scored twice during the second overtime period to pull USC out of a 6-5 OT hole and secure the tournament title for the Trojans with a 7-6 comeback win against No. 3 UCLA. Her five goals on Sunday paired with a goal during group play the previous day to give Daube 16 goals this season - just 12 games into the year. As a sophomore, Daube scored 23 total goals in all of 2013. Haralabidis was the Trojans' top scorer at the UCI Invitational. With 10 goals in the tourney, Haralabidis also was key in propelling USC to its second straight UCI Invitational championship. In the semifinal against No. 4 Cal, Haralabidis set a career high for herself with a four-goal game in the win over the Bears. She added her 10th goal of the tourney with an early equalizer for the Trojans in their comeback win over No. 3 UCLA in the title match. On the first day of play, Haralabidis scored twice against CSU Bakersfield and added a hat trick against No. 10 Cal State Northridge. With the 10-goal weekend, Haralabidis climbs up to stand as USC's second leading scorer on the year with 23 goals as the Trojans stay perfect with a 12-0 start to 2014
BY THE NUMBERS
Through these first eight games of 2014, USC is outscoring opponents 197-39, leading the MPSF in offense and defense to date. Junior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 31 goals as she has climbed to No. 9 all-time in career scoring (147 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is freshman Stephania Haralabidis with 23 goals, followed by a trio of Trojans with 16 goals apiece -- Eike Daube, Kaleigh Gilchrist and Ioanna Haralabidis. Gilchrist is also on the career climb, ranking No. 17 all-time with 123 career goals.On the defensive end, USC has a reliable anchor in senior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who is averaging 9.78 saves per game and 3.44 goals-against per game in her 10 appearances to date.
USC has several Trojans who are on the rise in the career record books. Junior Monica Vavic currently holds 147 career goals to crack the all-time top-10. She's five away from the No. 8 spot held by two-time Olympian Kami Craig. Senior Kaleigh Gilchrist, too, is making moves up the ladder. With 123 career goals, Gilchrist ranks No. 15 all-time, standing four away from the No. 14 spot held by another two-time Olympian, Lauren Wenger. Defensively, senior goalie Flora Bolonyai has a chance to take over as USC's all-time career saves leader by the end of the year. Bolonyai passed up Tumua Anae last season to take over at No. 2. Now with 731 career saves to date, Bolonyai is closing the gap between herself and all-time leader Bernice Orwig's 838 saves as a Trojan. All three USC goalies hold the distinction of being Olympians, with Orwin holding a silver medal with Team USA at the 2000 Games and Anae captured gold with the United States in 2012 in London. Bolonyai also is a 2012 Olympian, having played for Hungary in those Games.
FLORA IN CONTROL
Senior goalie Flora Bolonyai was a wall in the cage for the Trojans in their run to capturing the Triton Invitational championship and has earned the honor of MPSF Player of the Week for her winning efforts. Bolonyai had 10 saves in a 13-0 group-play win over #16 Cal State Northridge -- securing the sixth shutout victory in program history -- to advance the Trojans to the semifinals. There, Bolonyai pinned up another 10-save effort in a 10-4 win over No. 10 Arizona State for a ticket to the final. In the title match, Bolonyai opened the day with a save against a UC Irvine 5-meter penalty shot, and she'd finish with 11 saves in the 8-3 championship win. Bolonyai started the winning weekend with a couple saves and no goals allowed in one period of work in an opening 25-2 win over Sonoma State. In all, Bolonyai finished the weekend with 33 saves and seven goals allowed while USC opened the year at 4-0 with the victorious trip to San Diego. This is Bolonyai's second career pick as MPSF Player of the Week, following a 2012 selection and going along with a set of three Newcomer of the Week selections from her freshman season in 2011.
The 2014 Trojans return five starters from the last national championship team. NCAA Tournament MVP Flora Bolonyai -- an Olympian and a three-time All-American -- is the undeniable backbone of the team as the Trojans' steadfast goalie. She returns as one of five All-Americans back in the water, joined by fellow senior All-Americans Kaleigh Gilchrist, Kelly Mendoza and Madeline Rosenthal. Junior Monica Vavic returns as another All-American as well as the Trojans' top scorer and MPSF Player of the Year last season. That entire group gleaned even more key experience in the offseason, playing internationally throughout the summer along with several other Trojan teammates. Bolonyai won a bronze medal with Hungary at the 2013 FINA World Championships. Gilchrist, Mendoza and Vavic, as well as juniors Colleen O'Donnell and Eike Daube, all spent time with the U.S. National Team. Daube and Vavic combined forces for gold with the U.S. Junior National Team at the FINA Junior World Championships, while Jayde Appel pulled double duty in representing Australia at both the senior and junior World Championships. She'd bring home a World Championship silver medal from Barcelona, where Bolonyai picked up her bronze medal. The international standout list goes on. Back from training with the German National Team is junior Jennifer Stiefel, and new to the Trojan roster this season are the powerful sister act from Greece, Ioanna and Stephania Haralabidis.
WELCOME TO UYTENGSU!
USC proudly welcomes visitors to the new state-of-the-art Uytengsu Aquatics Center this season. Made possible by the largest gift ever by a former USC student-athlete, diver Fred Uytengsu, the new home of the Trojan aquatics programs officially opened on Feb. 21. The pool and diving well both were used for the 1984 Olympic Games, but the surrounding facility has an entirely new look. A fancy new scoreboard as well as stands, overhangs, entryways and buildings with event and office space now surround the pools for an arena that also honors the historic tradition of success that Trojan aquatics exemplifies. The first home water polo game in the new Uytengsu Aquatics Center is set for March 7. See you there!
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.