Women's Water Polo
    No. 1 USC Visit LMU, UC Irvine In Nonconference Action
    Sophomore Monica Vavic is seven goals away from hitting 100 in her USC career.
    Sophomore Monica Vavic is seven goals away from hitting 100 in her USC career.

    April 3, 2013

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    THIS WEEK
    The No. 1 USC women's water polo team takes a quick tour of nonconference action this week with two road tilts. The undefeated Trojans (18-0) journey over to Westchester on Thursday (April 4) to square off against No. 11 Loyola Marymount (15-7) at 4 p.m. Two days later, USC will scoot down to Irvine for a 1 p.m. matchup against No. 7 UC Irvine (15-7) on Saturday (April 6).

    THE LAST MEETING
    Loyola Marymount6
    USC10
    March 25, 2012
    McDonald's Swim Stadium
    No. 3 USC Storms Out Of LMU's Reach
    The No. 3 USC women's water polo team charged up for a five-goal scoring run to storm out of reach of visiting No. 7 Loyola Marymount under rainy skies on Sunday afternoon at McDonald's Swim Stadium. Kaleigh Gilchrist stuck three of her career-high five goals during that surge, as USC worked its way to a 10-6 victory over the Lions. With their fourth straight win in the books, the Trojans improve to 15-3 overall on the year.

    THE LAST MEETING
    USC14
    UC Irvine9
    May 13, 2011
    Ann Arbor, Mich.
    Women of Troy Storm Into NCAA Semifinals
    The USC women's water polo team went big in the fourth period of play to punch its ticket to an eighth straight NCAA Semifinal appearance with a 14-9 win over UC Irvine today in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Trojans never trailed, but found the Anteaters within reach until a breakout final frame saw USC pull away. No. 4 seed USC outscored No. 5 UC Irvine 7-2 in the fourth to roll into tomorrow's 4:30 p.m. ET semifinal against top-seeded Stanford at Michigan's Canham Natatorium.

    USC IN THE RANKINGS
    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 sixth straight week.

    SCOUTING LMU
    The No. 11 Lions bring a six-game win streak and a 15-7 overall record into this week's clash against USC. LMU is coming off a four-game sweep at the LMU Invitational, capped with a 7-5 win over No. 12 Princeton. Alexandra Honny and Jessica Morelos lead the Lions in scoring with 41 and 38 goals, respectively. Goalie Claire Wright has made 109 saves in 16 appearances with 96 goals allowed, and Jordan White has made 46 saves in 11 appearances with 55 goals allowed. USC is 23-0 all-time against LMU after beating the Lions 8-6 at last year's UCI Invitational and 10-6 during a nonconference game last season at USC.

    SCOUTING UCI
    The No. 7 Anteaters are 15-7 overall after beating UC Davis 7-6 and Pacific 8-5 last week. Hannah Croghan is UCI's top scorer with 34 goals, and goalie Jillian Yocum averages 9.2 saves and 5.8 goals-against per game in 20 appearances. USC is 19-3 all-time against UC Irvine with wins in the past 19 meetings. The teams did not face off last year. In 2011, the Trojans beat the Anteaters 14-4 during the regular season and 14-9 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

    LAST WEEK
    USC made a worthwhile trip to Bakersfield last week, rolling up powerful wins in beating the host Roadrunners 19-6 and then turning around to take out Brown 16-5 for a victorious doubleheader. Flexing the biggest scoring muscle on the day was USC sophomore Eike Daube, who rang up a career-high five goals in the win over CSU Bakersfield before adding a hat trick against Brown. Hannah Buckling, too, had a big day getting to the back of the net with six goals -- a career-high four vs. the Roadrunners and two against the Bears. Against CSU Bakersfield, USC powered up with six straight goals, shutting out CSUB 5-0 in the first frame before Monica Vavic added one out of the gates in the second period to make it 6-0. The Roadrunners got on the board to make it 6-1, but USC followed that up with four more goals before halftime to lead 10-1 at the break. The host team managed to outscore the Trojans in the third frame, tallying three goals following 6-on-5 advantages. That made it 12-4 Trojans entering the fourth period of play, and USC was all business in that final frame. Daube punched in her fifth goal of the game on USC's first possession, followed by Vavic and Kaleigh Gilchrist's third each to go up 15-4. The Roadrunners would get two goals to go in the fourth, but USC rang up seven total with Jayde Appel and Madeline Rosenthal getting in the books with goals as well to wrap up a 19-6 win for the Trojans. The Trojans would turn around and get right back to it with a matchup against Brown coming next. It was a 3-1 USC advantage after the first period of play as Olivia Cummins and Colleen O'Donnell joined the scoring action for the day. Brown would get two through during the second, but USC was up to the challenge with four different Trojans getting to the back of the net to move ahead 7-3 by halftime. Another four straight USC goals would come to open the second half -- again with four different scorers on the case. Up 11-3, USC saw Brown manage another just before the last minute of the third. Awakened from that strike, USC answered with two goals in the last 40 seconds of the period -- a power play goal from Daube and a blast from Buckling to take the Trojans ahead 13-4. Alegra Hueso took over the cage for Flora Bolonyai after that, with Bolonyai having hauled in 13 saves in her seven periods of work. Only one more Brown goal would get through in the fourth, and USC whipped in three as Cummins, O'Donnell and Daube completed their multiple-goal games to finish up the 16-5 USC win.

    BY THE NUMBERS
    Through these first 18 games of 2013, USC is outscoring opponents 288-90 on the year. Sophomore Monica Vavic has been the undisputed scoring leader down the stretch, with 54 goals scored to date -- far outpacing her freshman season total of 39. Next in line on the scoresheets are junior Kaleigh Gilchrist with 28, junior Hannah Buckling with 22 and senior Dominique Sardo and sophomore Jayde Appel with 21 each. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable anchor in junior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who averages 8.13 saves per game and is second in the MPSF with 4.88 goals-against per game. In all, the Trojans lead the conference with 16.0 goals per game. USC is second in the MPSF defensively with 5.0 goals-against per game.

    CAPTAINS CORNER
    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. Thanks in part to a four-goal outburst against ASU, Gilchrist now holds 28 goals on the year, followed by Sardo at 21.

    CENTURY CLUB COMING SOON
    USC has three Trojans closing in on the 100-goal mark for their respective careers. Sophomore Monica Vavic stands at 93 to date, followed closely by junior Kaleigh Gilchrist with 90 and senior Dominique Sardo at 83. Stay tuned!

    TAKING OVER THE TOP
    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.

    NEWCOMERS MAKE THEIR MPSF MARKS
    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.

    MONICA GOES BACK-TO-BACK
    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 54 goals to date this year, Vavic has decidedly bettered her freshman season total of 39 goals.

    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 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!

    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 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. •