Women's Water Polo
    No. 1 USC Stays Home For Another MPSF Matchup

    Kelly Mendoza has been a key addition to the Trojans lineup this season.

    March 13, 2013

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    The No. 1 USC women's water polo team has jumped out to a 2-0 start in MPSF play while toting a 14-game win streak on the way into this week's conference clash. The Trojans (14-0, 2-0 MPSF) stay home for another MPSF matchup at their home pool at the future site of the Uytengsu Aquatic Center. Top-ranked USC will host No. 10 San Jose State for a 5 p.m. game on Friday (March 15) in an effort to keep up the Trojans' undefeated run through 2013.

    San Jose State1
    April 27, 2012
    Stanford, Calif.
    USC Gets Defensive, Moves To MPSF Semis
    The No. 3 USC women's water polo team pitched a near-shutout today in the MPSF first round with an 8-1 win over No. 6 seed San Jose State. With Olympian-to-be Flora Bolonyai back in the cage, the Trojan defense was clicking, and the offense kicked into gear in the third period to put the Spartans out of reach. Now 20-4 overall, USC advances to face rival UCLA tomorrow in the MPSF semifinals at 4 p.m. at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center.

    USC opened 2013 ranked No. 2 in the nation, and the Women of Troy took over the top spot after beating Stanford in the UCI Invitational championship. The takeover marked the first time USC had been ranked No. 1 in the nation since the conclusion of the 2010 season. The Trojans stole the top spot away from Stanford, which had been at No. 1 for almost a year. Still undefeated on the year, USC remains at No. 1 for the third straight week.

    The No. 10 Spartans are 8-6 overall and 0-1 in MPSF play after a 15-4 loss to Stanford last week. Rae Leckness is San Jose State's top scorer with 33 goals, and goalie Maddie Reardon is averaging 7.01 saves and 8.91 saves per game. USC is a perfect 26-0 all-time against the Spartans after three wins over SJSU last season. The Trojans beat the Spartans 14-6 at the 2012 Stanford Invitational, 8-5 in MPSF play in San Jose.and then 8-1 in the first round of the 2012 MPSF Tournament.

    USC kept its win streak alive and well with a victorious push past visiting No. 3 Arizona State in the home opener for the Trojans last week. USC blasted out of an early two-goal hole and put a halftime tie quickly to bed, scoring four straight goals to start the second half to power up for a final 11-7 win over the upset-minded Sun Devils. Up 10-7 on the Sun Devils entering the final minute of play, the Trojans still had some heroics left in them. USC goalie Flora Bolonyai squared off against ASU's Alicia Brightwell for a 5-meter penalty shot. Brightwell put the ball to the bottom right corner, but Bolonyai was there -- with her foot -- for the kick save that fired up the junior Olympian as well as the Trojan bench. Arizona State had come out as the early aggressors and worked ahead of USC 3-1. The Trojans would mount a rally next, getting a blast from Jayde Appel for a spark to close the first frame before Madeline Rosenthal hit Dominique Sardo with a cross that Sardo buried cross cage to lock it up 3-3. Colleen O'Donnell gave USC its first lead of the game, up 4-3 at 5:35 in the second, but ASU evened the score at 4-4 and then again a 5-5 just before halftime. To open the second half, Kaleigh Gilchrist -- who had punched in two goals in the first half of action -- ripped a backhand that was saved by ASU goalie E.B. Keeve. The ball ricocheted into Appel's hands, however, and Appel made the most of the opportunity with a shove to the back of the net that had USC back on top. That score prompted a four-goal run by the Trojans, who had Gilchrist nail two more around a booming strike from Hannah Buckling. The USC defense was effective in interrupting the Sun Devils at the other end, nabbing steals and getting big saves from Bolonyai to help anchor that run to a 9-5 lead. Brightwell's third goal of the game stopped the streak with an offspeed score that made it 9-6 going into the fourth frame. Vavic would nail one crosscage out of the gates to make it 10-6, and ASU could manage only a long skip from Ao Gao with 1:49 to go in the final period of play. Between Bolonyai's foot save and Vavic's prayer shot at the close, USC had capped off a nice comeback push to beat the Sun Devils 11-7 in the Trojans' long-awaited return to their home pool at what is to become the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.

    Through these first 14 games of 2013, USC is outscoring opponents 220-68 on the year. Sophomore Monica Vavic has been the undisputed scoring leader down the stretch, with 43 goals scored to date -- outpacing her freshman season total of 39. Next in line on the scoresheets are junior Kaleigh Gilchrist with 21 and sophomore Jayde Appel and senior Dominique Sardo with 18 apiece. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable anchor in junior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who averages 8.2 saves per game and is second in the MPSF with 4.7 goals-against per game. In all, the Trojans lead the conference with 15.71 goals per game. USC is second in the MPSF defensively with 4.86 goals-against per game.

    USC turned heads in taking a commanding run to the UCI Invitational championship. After well-balanced wins over Pacific and San Diego State on the first day of action, the Trojans edged out rival UCLA 11-10 in the semifinals to earn their place in the title match. Up against top-ranked Stanford in the final, USC pounded out a 13-10 upset win over the Cardinal to capture the championship and set in motion the Trojans' takeover of the No. 1 ranking in the nation. USC opened the tourney with 10 different scorers in on the action in both Trojan victories. The well-balanced Trojan attack and stingy USC defense paired up well for a 14-2 win over Pacific and then a 17-5 victory over San Diego State to push USC through to the next day's semifinal round. Up against the Bruins in the semis, USC got the last word in a see-saw battle with No. 3 UCLA. Kaleigh Gilchrist blasted one through with 2 seconds left, and USC held on for the 11-10 victory that put the Trojans into a championship bout with top-ranked Stanford. USC freshman Anni Espar recorded her first hat trick as a Trojan to lead USC's scoring attack against UCLA. Her second of the day got USC a tight 8-7 lead near the close of the third frame, but the game would stay neck-and-neck. The Bruins were awarded a 5-meter penalty shot to open the fourth, converting for the 8-8 tie. Espar again got USC the go-ahead with her third strike making it 9-8. Again, UCLA would draw even, answering that Espar goal and then a Monica Vavic score on a 6-on-5. Locked up 10-10, USC's Gilchrist plugged in what would stand as the winner. Her bullet with 2 ticks to go proved the difference, and the Women of Troy were through to the title match. USC packed some championship punch in a resounding 13-10 takedown of top-ranked Stanford. USC and Stanford would stand locked at 8-8 before the Trojans rammed home three straight scores on goals from Kelly Mendoza, Hannah Buckling and Monica Vavic to go up 11-8. The Cardinal trimmed the USC lead down to one, but some rock-hard USC defense anchored by a stingy USC goalie Flora Bolonyai in the cage paired with goals from Anni Espar and Vavic to secure the championship win for the Trojans. Espar would finish with a game-high four goals for the Trojans, with Vavic and Buckling adding a hat trick apiece to charge up the USC offense for the win. Bolonyai also hauled in nine saves in the win, including a 5-meter penalty stop in the fourth period of play to bring home victory for USC.

    Following a powerful run to the UCI Invitational championship, undefeated USC registered a sweep of this week's MPSF honors. USC freshman Anni Espar picked up her first award as the MPSF Player of the Week, and junior newcomer Hannah Buckling grabbed MPSF Newcomer of the Week honors. Making her Trojan debut at the UCI Invitational, Espar scored seven goals on the second day of competition to lead the Trojans to the tournament crown. Espar blasted three goals in a tight 11-10 win over No. 3 UCLA in the semifinals. In the title match, Espar went even bigger with a game-high four goals to help lift USC to a 13-10 upset of top-ranked Stanford. With three goals scored on the first day of action, Espar finished her first collegiate tournament as a Trojan with 10 goals. Meanwhile, Buckling's second hat trick as a Trojan came in that big USC victory over Stanford in the title match. Buckling scored three straight goals to dig USC out of a 7-5 hole and give the Trojans an 8-7 lead early in the second half. Her hat trick in the title match followed up her one goal in USC's tight semifinal win over No. 3 UCLA. In all, Buckling scored five goals during the tournament, including her four goals on the crucial second day of competition. Just last week, another USC newcomer got in the books with MPSF Newcomer of the Week honors when another Aussie import, Jayde Appel, scored two big goals for the Trojans to spark a comeback win over ASU.

    The top gun in the conference to date is USC sophomore Monica Vavic, who has scored 43 goals to average 3.07 goals per game. Her scoring prowess helped the sophomore win back-to-back honors as MPSF Player of the Week, but it's been more than goals that has locked Vavic on the honor roll. Her first career weekly honor came on Feb. 11 after she emerged as USC's top scorer with 14 goals -- including a four-goal outburst in the Trojans' tournament championship win over No. 5 Arizona State -- at the Triton Invitational. Vavic had eight goals on day one to get USC into the semifinals, adding another two there before punching in four in the title match. The sophomore also delivered a team-high eight assists in the tourney. The following week, Vavic opened up the Lancer Invitational with a five-goal game in a 9-1 USC win over #11 Long Beach State. Vavic would keep up her scoring momentum with a hat trick against Azusa Pacific and four goals each in wins over host Cal Baptist and Concordia. She finished the Invite as USC's leader with 16 goals, along with seven assists and four ejections drawn to haul in repeat honors as MPSF Player of the Week on Feb. 18. Now with 43 goals to date this year, Vavic has already bettered her freshman season total of 39 goals.

    USC's captains this year are senior Dominique Sardo and junior Kaleigh Gilchrist, who each carried 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. After a four-goal outburst against ASU, Gilchrist now holds 21 goals on the year, followed by Sardo at 18.

    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.

    The home of the Trojans is a work in progress right now, but the 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 are hosting 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!

    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 have concluded their time with USA Water Polo and remain on the USC coaching 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. •