No. 1 USC Clashes With No. 4 Cal Saturday At Uytengsu
Women of Troy play their first televised game of the year with Cal coming to town Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
March 12, 2014
USC Water Polo Release
Fresh off a visit to the White House to be honored for its 2013 NCAA Championship, the USC women's water polo team now gets back to business. The Women of Troy have a televised MPSF matchup coming fast, as top-ranked USC (14-0, 2-0 MPSF) hosts No. 4 California (14-3, 1-0) at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday (March 15) at the Trojans' newly opened Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks with Greg Mescall and Adam Krikorian on the call.
USC IN THE RANKINGS
THE LAST MEETING
February 23, 2014
No. 1 Trojans To Tangle With No. 3 UCLA In UCI Invite Championship
The No. 1 USC women's water polo team will go up against crosstown rival UCLA this afternoon to vie for the UCI Invitational title. The Trojans took down No. 4 California with a 12-7 victory in this morning's semifinals down in Irvine to set up their defense of the tournament championship. USC captured last year's crown with a win over Stanford in the title match.
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 eighth week of 2014 competition.
USC celebrated its home opener last week with a comfortable win over Bakersfield 22-7 at the newly built Uytengsu Aquatics Center, extending its winning streak to 14. The Trojans kicked off the game with a quick start as they finished the first quarter with a 9-2 lead. Ioanna Haralabidis completed a swift hat trick before the first buzzer. In addition, Ioanna's sister Stephania Haralabidis and Kelly Mendoza collected a brace respectively in the first frame. The second quarter started off slowly as both teams struggled to score for as long as four minutes until Monica Vavic broke the stalemate at 4:15 with a beautiful loop shot into the top right corner. Under Vavic's lead The Women of Troy fired up their engines and expanded the score gap to 14-2 before the halftime. Trojans' fearless defense suffocated the Roadrunners in leaving them scoreless in the second quarter. Meanwhile, Stephania Haralabidis completed her halftime hat trick along with Vavic. The Trojan loosened their grip on defense in conceding two penalty shots during the third quarter. Kristen Jensen of the Bakersfield took the chance and completed the team's first and only hat trick of the game. However, Trojans' offense remained consistent, adding four more goals to the scoreboard. Olivia Cummins also completed her own hat trick with a goal that ended the quarter as a 18-5 USC lead. In the fourth quarter, the Women of Troy remained dominant. Nikki Stansfield started out with a bang as she, too, had herself a hat trick in just four minutes. Natalie Lavinsky also placed her name on the scoresheet en route to the commanding 22-7 victory, which concluded USC's first game in the state-of-the-art Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
The No. 4 Golden Bears are 14-3 overall and 1-0 in MPSF play after beating San Jose State 12-10 last week. Dora Antal leads Cal and the MPSF in scoring with 3.25 goals per game. Goalie Madeline Trabucco is averaging 7.1 saves and 7.6 goals-against per game. USC is 29-18 all-time against Cal after a 12-7 win earlier this season in the UCI Invitational semifinals. Last year, USC beat Cal 10-5 during MPSF play.
VICTORS IN IRVINE
USC made a statement 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, 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.
CARDINAL & GOLD AT THE WHITE HOUSE
For the second time in five years, both the USC men's and women's water polo teams have made a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House as NCAA Champions. United States President Barack Obama extended an invitation to national championship teams from around the country for the opportunity to tour the White House and meet the President on March 10. Head coach Jovan Vavic brought his latest crews of champions, along with his coaching staff and a few support staff, on the memorable journey. Members of USC's 2013 women's team -- which won the NCAA title in a sudden-death victory -- and members of the 2013 men's teams -- which won a sixth consecutive title with an overtime victory -- took the trip to Washington this week. The last USC teams to make such a visit were the Trojans' 2010 champions. That was the last year that the USC men's and women's water polo teams went back-to-back with national championships, and the 2010 water polo teams also made that trip to the White House along with the USC men's tennis team following its 2010 title run.
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.
Freshman Stephania Haralabidis tallied a first-half hat trick for the Trojans in their MPSF opener, delivering three goals in USC's 15-6 win over No. 5 host Arizona State. For her efforts, Haralabidis picked up back-to-back honors as the MPSF Newcomer of the Week, following up her Feb. 24 pick for her work in helping USC to the UCI Invitational championship with another selection on March 3. Haralabidis' three goals against Arizona State came in a four-minute span, helping USC along to an early 6-2 lead on the Sun Devils. In addition to her three goals on four shots taken, Haralabidis also won three sprints, had three steals and served up three assists in the win. Haralabidis now stands as USC's second leading scorer with 26 goals. She is the only Trojan to date to have scored at least one goal in every game, and this marks her fourth game of the year with three goals or more. With the win over the Sun Devils, USC remains perfect overall at 13-0 on the year with the winning 1-0 start to MPSF play.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through these first 13 games of 2014, USC is outscoring opponents 234-52, leading the MPSF in offense and defense to date. Junior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 38 goals as she has climbed to No. 8 all-time in career scoring (154 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is freshman Stephania Haralabidis with 29 goals, followed by Ioanna Haralabidis with 19, Eike Daube with 18 and Kaleigh Gilchrist with 17. Gilchrist is also on the career climb, ranking No. 15 all-time with 124 career goals. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable anchor in senior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who is averaging 9.02 saves per game and 3.9 goals-against per game in her 12 appearances to date.
USC has several Trojans who are on the rise in the career record books. Junior Monica Vavic currently holds 154 career goals to crack the all-time top-10. With four goals vs. Bakersfield on March 7, she took over the No. 8 spot previously held by two-time Olympian Kami Craig. Senior Kaleigh Gilchrist, too, is making moves up the ladder. With 124 career goals, Gilchrist ranks No. 15 all-time, standing three 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 740 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 Orwig 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, swimmer 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.
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.