April 18, 2012
USC WWP Weekly Release
The No. 3 USC women's water polo team sets up for its home finale this week with a nonconference regular-season wrapup against CSU Bakersfield. The Trojans (18-4) are locked in as the No. 3 seed for the coming MPSF Tournament, but have one last home game to get through before pushing into postseason play. USC will face CSU Bakersfield (22-15) at 5 p.m. on Friday (April 20) at McDonald's Swim Stadium.
IN THE RANKINGS
USC opened 2012 tied at No. 3 in the nation alongside UCLA, but moved up to No. 2 on Feb. 8. The Trojans are back at the No. 3 position again in the latest national rankings. San Jose State ranks No. 8, and Stanford is still locked at No. 2.
SCOUTING CSU BAKERSFIELD
The Roadrunners are 22-15 overall and the No. 3 seed into their coming WWPA conference tournament. Last week, CSU Bakersfield beat Cal State San Bernardino and Sonoma State and lost to San Jose State and UC San Diego in a tournament in Santa Clara. Jessica Browning is the Runners' top scorer with 73 goals and goalie Alex Bayer averages 8.7 goals-against per game with 179 saves in 25 appearances. USC is 4-0 all-time against CSU Bakersfield, last claiming an 18-4 win in 2010 at McDonald's Swim Stadium.
USC wrapped up MPSF play two weeks ago with a road split, beating San Jose State 8-5 before taking a 9-8 overtime loss to Stanford. The Trojans first worked their win streak out to seven in a row after plugging in two late goals to move on to victory over the host Spartans. The Trojans never trailed in the match, but they did have to fend off a couple threats posed by the Spartans. San Jose State closed the gap to one on two occasions, the last coming midway through the fourth period of play before USC kicked out back ahead. After USC carried a 6-3 lead into the fourth frame, the Spartans scored twice to cut it to 6-5 with four minutes to go. Thirty seconds later, however, USC delivered a swift response, earning an ejection and getting up 7-5 on a score from Nicolina McCall. The final stroke was exacted by Monica Vavic, with a blast to take the Trojans ahead 8-5 with 1:46 on the clock. The next day at Stanford, USC managed a four-goal scoring surge to claim a 6-3 lead on the host Cardinal with 2:21 to go in the third. Madeline Rosenthal had delivered the strike for the three-goal USC advantage, only to see Stanford stop the run on its next possession. A Cardinal buzzer-beater would close the frame as a 6-5 USC edge entering the fourth period of play. In that next stanza, Colleen O'Donnell struck to make it 7-5 Trojans, but again Stanford had an answer with back-to-back goals to knot it up 7-7 with 5:49 to go in regulation. With 3:50 to go, Stanford was awarded a 5-meter penalty shot, but the referee's whistle came before the Stanford shooter and USC defense were set, and the hesitation by Stanford resulted in a Cardinal turnover to give USC back the ball with the score still tied. Defenses would hold on both ends through to the close of regulation, bringing up overtime in Stanford's home pool. In the first OT, Stanford managed two goals in the first minute of play for a 9-7 lead. USC would see Rosenthal tally her third goal of the game to bring the Trojans within one at 9-8, but the final three minutes of play would be pass without goals for either team as USC was left short of the upset and stuck with a 9-8 loss to the host Cardinal in the Trojans' final MPSF regular-season match of the year.
FLORA FIGHTS FOR LONDON
USC's sophomore goalie Flora Bolonyai is embedded in Italy right now, working with her Hungarian National Team at the Olympic Qualification Tournament. Hungary is aiming for a spot in the tournament semifinals in order to secure a spot at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. So far, the team is 1-1 in group play -- even with the rest of the pack -- after beating Russia and falling to host Italy. Follow along at waterpoloworld.org. Bolonyai will be back at USC after the tournament wraps up, just in time to help lead the Women of Troy into the MPSF Tournament (April 27-29) in Stanford, Calif.
BY THE NUMBERS
USC is currently third in the MPSF in offense and defense, outscoring opponents 251-119 to average 11.4 goals scored and 5.5 goals-against per game. Sophomore Kaleigh Gilchrist is USC's top scorer with 37 goals to date, followed by freshman Monica Vavic with 28 goals. Not far behind her is junior Patricia Jancso at 23 and senior Nadia Dan with 22. Dan hit her 100th career goal on March 22 vs. Long Beach State and now ranks No. 20 all-time with 104. Jancso got to 100 on Feb. 23 in USC's win over Hawai'i, and now holds 113 career goals as a Trojan.
GILCHRIST GOES BIG FOR MPSF HONORS
Sophomore Kaleigh Gilchrist secured USC with back-to-back MPSF Player of the Week honors, following fellow sophomore Flora Bolonyai's selection last week by emerging as the MPSF's best of the week with her Player of the Week pick on April 2. Gilchrist scored her second and third straight multiple-goal games starting with a hat trick vs. Hartwick before plugging in two more goals in USC's MPSF win over No. 5 California. Gilchrist was dominant at 2-meters in both games as she helped USC extend its win streak to six games, improving to 17-3 overall and taking a 4-1 mark in MPSF action. Gilchrist's scoring explosion has her leading USC with 37 goals to date.
BOLONYAI NETS FIRST MPSF PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore goalie Flora Bolonyai hauled in her first career honor as MPSF Player of the Week on March 26 after an outstanding week of action in the cage for the Women of Troy. She is the first Trojan to win the award this season. A two-time MPSF Newcomer of the Week as a freshman, Bolonyai matched her career high of 13 saves in an important MPSF road win over No. 4 ASU. The sophomore standout delivered 11 saves in the second half of play in Tempe, including six in the fourth period to go with a shutout effort in that frame as No. 3 USC beat the host Sun Devils 9-7. In USC's three games during the week, Bolonyai averaged 9.7 saves per game, tallying 10 in a 7-3 win over Long Beach State before the career-high 13 saves at ASU. And in a 10-6 USC win over No. 7 LMU, Bolonyai had six saves including one stop against a 5-meter penalty shot by the Lions.
MAKING HER MPSF MARK
USC freshman Savannah Fletcher scored seven goals in USC's first two games at the Lancer Invitational and finished with a team-high eight at the two-day event as USC picked up four more wins to improve to 7-1 on the year. For her outstanding work for the Women of Troy, Fletcher was named MPSF Newcomer of the Week, making her the first USC player this season to win a weekly award from the conference. On Feb. 17 in Riverside, Fletcher went big in game one, punching in four to lead the Trojans to a 14-2 win over Pacific. She followed that up with a hat trick next against Fresno Pacific that same day, and then hit one more with a goal against Concordia on Feb. 18.
BACK IN ACTION
USC returns 65 percent of its scoring from last year, including two of its top-three scorers from 2011 in junior Patricia Jancso and senior Nadia Dan, who combined for 83 goals last season. Dan and Jancso both earned All-American honors in 2011 along with sophomore goalie Flora Bolonyai, who anchored the Trojans in every game to the tune of 7.9 saves per game and 6.7 goals-against per game. Along with Bolonyai back in the cage, USC also has 13 players back in the water who tallied at least one goal for the Women of Troy in 2011.
USC is just one season removed from the 2010 national championship year, which eight current players experienced. Seniors Nadia Dan and Kara-Leigh Huse were sophomores in that campaign, and the rest are now juniors, giving Vavic a powerful base of knowledge to tap into as he constructs a a defensive-minded squad to get the Trojans back on top. USC's top scorer in 2011, Patricia Jancso and fellow junior Dominique Sardo were impact players as freshmen during that 2010 championship run. Constance Hiller, Nicolina McCall, Blair Moody and Chelsea Silvers also got plenty of pool time as freshmen that year and even more last season as sophomores. Now, that pack of upperclassmen are charged with putting that know-how and skill to good use this year.
USC's class of newcomers is a powerful group. Jovan Vavic has combined the strength of Eike Daube at two-meters and Monica Vavic as an insightful distributor with scoring ability with the quickness of transfer Olivia Cummins and freshman drivers Michelle Caron and Savannah Fletcher, to set up the Trojans for a youth movement toward success.
Versatility will be an important counter punch for the Trojans, who can now follow up the more experienced defensive system on one end with a blend of offensive strategies going the opposite direction. After all, Vavic also knows he can rely on the sophomore savvy of Kaleigh Gilchrist, Colleen O'Donnell and Madeline Rosenthal, who combined for 35 goals as freshmen. O'Donnell and Rosenthal got extra experience as well as members of the U.S. Junior National Team, along with junior Dominique Sardo, in the fall at the FINA Junior World Championships. Sophomore Jennifer Stiefel also was there, playing for Germany, as well as fellow sophomore Flora Bolonyai, who won silver with Team Hungary.
BRONZE FOR BOLONYAI
Sophomore goalie Flora Bolonyai brings back some hardware from overseas as she now jumps into collegiate waters with her Women of Troy. As the linchpin of the Hungarian National Team's defense, Bolonyai helped her team to a bronze medal at the European Championships in January 2012 in the Netherlands. In doing so, Hungary moves on to fight for a spot in the London Olympic Games with a spot at April's Olympic Qualification Tournament. Bolonyai started her decorated debut with Hungary's Senior National Team earlier in the year as she picked up honors as the Best Goalie of the Tournament at the 2012 Thetis Cup before moving into this latest major competition with Hungary at the European Championships.
After graduating five All-Americans from its 2010 NCAA Championship team, the 2011 Trojans finished 19-8 overall and 4-3 in MPSF play with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Tournament. The Women of Troy extended their streak of NCAA appearances to eight straight with 2011's trip to the tourney. Five Trojans earned All-American honors in 2011 as well, with seniors Joelle Bekhazi and Kristen Dronberger pocketing their third consecutive All-American awards. The decorated duo was joined by three other teammates on the All-American list as well -- Flora Bolonyai, Nadia Dan and Patricia Jancso. Jancso, Bekhazi, Dan and Dronberger were USC's top four scorers, respectively, in 2011. Bolonyai was USC's wall in the cage, earning herself All-America honors in her first season as a Trojan. USC outscored opponents 280-188 in 2011, averaging 10.3 goals per game offensively and 7.0 goals against per game defensively.