No. 1 USC Back In Home Waters This Week
Women of Troy have a five-game stretch at McDonald's Swim Stadium beginning Thursday.
March 24, 2010
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After a break from competition, the No. 1 USC women's water polo team dives back into action this week, carrying a 10-game win streak into a stretch of five home games at McDonald's Swim Stadium. It all begins on Thursday (March 25) when the Women of Troy (12-1, 2-0 MPSF) host Long Beach State (7-12) at 5 p.m. in the teams' third clash of the year. Two days later, USC squares off with No. 14 San Diego State (16-9, 0-3 MPSF) in an MPSF match at 12 p.m. on Saturday (March 27).
IN THE RANKINGS
USC took over as the nation's No. 1 team on March 3 after standing at No. 2 in the rankings for five weeks, and the Trojans remain on top this week. Long Beach State is receiving votes, and San Diego State is ranked No. 14 this week.
BY THE NUMBERS
USC enters the week with Joelle Bekhazi as its scoring leader with 21 goals to date. Patricia Jancso is next with 20, and Kally Lucas has 19. Next in line with 16 goals, senior Kami Craig recently moved into the No. 10 all-time scoring slot in the Trojan history books, passing up fellow Cutino Award winning and Olympian Lauren Wenger. Craig now holds 132 career goals. As a team, USC is No. 1 among MPSF teams in defense, allowing just 4.85 goals per game. Offensively, USC is second in the conference with 11.69 goals per game.
USC's last official competition came over a week ago in a 7-4 home win over No. 4 Cal in an MPSF match at McDonald's Swim Stadium. The Trojans stifled the Bears' offensive attack, going up 5-1 by halftime as goalie Tumua Anae built her way toward 13 saves in the win, thanks in part to a shutout in the second frame. Joelle Bekhazi led the way for the Women of Troy with three goals, as USC captured its 10th straight win and improved its MPSF mark to 3-0. The Trojans had a scrimmage at Hawai'i last week, going up 7-2 by halftime on the Rainbow Wahine en route to a 9-7 decision that saw seven different Women of Troy score in the exhibition game.
TAKING OVER THE TOP
USC recaptured the top slot in the national rankings after a powerful championship run at the UC Irvine Invitational. The Trojans entered the tournament as the second-seeded team, beating Long Beach State 12-1 to start to tourney and then San Jose State 15-5 to earn their place in the semifinals, with 13 different Trojans scoring on the first day of play in Irvine. In the semifinals, Kally Lucas scored four for the Trojans as they powered past Cal with a 10-5 win for a spot in the title match against top-seeded Stanford. There, USC avenged its only previous loss of the season and captured a key tournament championship along the way as the Women of Troy slammed No. 1 Stanford with a 10-6 win. The Trojans piled up an 8-2 lead by halftime, and Patricia Jancso finished with a hat trick en route to USC's big title win over the Cardinal. In handing the Cardinal their first loss of the year, USC extended its win streak to nine after taking a 10-7 loss to Stanford in the Stanford Invitational semifinals earlier in the month.
The 49ers enter the week 7-12 overall after going 3-1 at the Lancer Invitational last week with a loss to Maryland followed by wins over Concordia, Cal Baptist and Occidental. Krizia Cerda leads LBSU in scoring with 32 goals so far, and goalie Kristen Stragier has 124 saves and averaged 9.06 goals against in the cage. USC is 31-0 all-time against Long Beach State with two wins already this season. The Trojans beat the 49ers 13-3 in the season opener and 12-1 at the UC Irvine Invitational this year.
The No. 14 Aztecs enter the week with a 16-9 overall record and 0-3 mark in MPSF play, facing Hawai'i on Wednesday before coming to Troy to play USC on Saturday. SDSU went 3-1 last week at the LMU Invitational, beating Pomona-Pitzer, Princeton and Colorado State and losing to host Loyola Marymount. Amber Pezolla leads the Aztecs in scoring with 39 goals, and goalie Kelly Campoli is averaging 9.29 saves and 6.25 goals against per game. USC is 27-9 all-time against SDSU, having won the past 26 games against the Aztecs including a 10-7 win last season in San Diego.
After a winning week of MPSF and tournament competition, USC placed two players at the top of the list for MPSF weekly honors. Senior Kami Craig earned her third career MPSF Player of the Week award, and freshman Patricia Jancso was selected the MPSF Newcomer of the Week -- a new award bestowed on the top first-year player among MPSF teams each week. The pair combined for five goals in USC's 10-6 upset of Stanford in the championship game at the UC Irvine Invitational. Craig opened the week with a four-goal game in USC's MPSF opener against Hawai'i, and she added four more goals during the UCI Invite. Jancso scored nine goals in five games this week, scoring in all five games. She topped out with a hat trick in the title match against Stanford.
NOT A TYPO
It's been over a decade since the Trojans so decisively dominated their crosstown rival UCLA as they did at the Stanford Invitational. After streaking ahead of the Bruins 8-0 in the game, USC pinned up a 13-3 victory over UCLA in the third-place game at the tourney. The Trojans and Bruins played out one-goal games last season in three meetings, and UCLA had won 10 straight games until USC snapped the streak with an 8-7 win in their first clash last year. In 1999, USC beat UCLA 11-1.
USC returns a fistful of All-Americans to the roster for 2009, and the group also hauls in added experience from international action during the offseason. 2008 U.S. Olympic silver-medalist and 2009 Cutino Award winner Kami Craig was joined by fellow Trojan All-Americans Tumua Anae, Forel Davies and Kristen Dronberger for U.S. National Team training. Anae, Davies and Dronberger all competed for Team USA at the Canada Cup in December, paying a visit to another USC All-American, Joelle Bekhazi, who is a member of the Canadian National Team. It was a Trojan All-American reunion again at the 2009 Holiday Cup as well, with Bekhazi again on the Canada roster and Craig and Davies capping up for the USA.
USC had a powerful 2009 season, racking up a 26-2 overall record that included a regular-season overtime loss to Stanford and a 5-4 loss to UCLA in the NCAA championship game. The Trojans made their third appearance in the national title match in four years and had beaten UCLA twice in one-goal games prior to the championship bout. The Women of Troy had beaten Stanford 5-4 in the MSP tournament title match to clinch the automatic seed to the NCAA Tournament with USC's first MPSF Championship since 2004 and second all-time. Kami Craig went on to win the Peter J. Cutino Award, and was one of six Trojans to be named an All-American.