No. 3 USC sets up camp in Tempe, Ariz., this week for action at the 2015 MPSF Tournament, where the Trojans will do battle with its conference-mates to vie for an automatic berth at the coming NCAA Tournament. The Women of Troy (21-3) have captured the No. 3 seed into the 2015 MPSF Tournament, lined up to open competition in the first round against No. 6 seed San Jose State at 12:30 p.m. on Friday (April 24) at Arizona State's Mona Plummer Aquatic Center. A win that day would put USC in a 12:30 p.m. semifinal against either No. 2 seed UCLA or No. 7 seed CSU Bakersfield on Saturday (April 25). The championship game is set for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday (April 26), preceded by a 12:30 p.m. third-place game. USC is hoping to stake a claim on its fifth MPSF Tournament title with a successful run at this year's event. All nine games at the tournament will have live stats and live streaming video available through the MPSF Tournament Central page.
THE LAST MEETING
San Jose State
April 11, 2015
Uytengsu Aquatics Center
No. 3 USC Sinks San Jose State 21-6 On Senior Day
The No. 3 USC women's water polo team turned a one-goal game into a daunting advantage with a 12-goal scoring surge that left visiting No. 8 San Jose State in the Trojans' wake in the final game of the year at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. After celebrating five seniors before the game, the Women of Troy made an impressive showing in pinning up a final 21-6 victory over the Spartans. USC got 11 different scorers in on the action, including seven goals scored by seniors in the win. The Trojans improve to 21-2 overall and to 4-1 in MPSF play with today's home victory.
USC IN THE RANKINGS
USC opened 2015 ranked No. 3 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. Now entering the postseason, the Trojans remain ranked as the nation's No. 3 team.
All seven MPSF teams will take part in the 2015 MPSF Tournament, hosted this year by Arizona State at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe, Ariz. The top seed this year, No. 1 Stanford (21-1), has a bye for the first round and will await either No. 4 California or No. 5 Arizona State in Saturday's semifinals. The seedings shake out with UCLA (21-2) as the No. 2 seed, followed by No. 3 USC (21-3), No. 4 California (17-6), No. 5 Arizona State (16-8), No. 6 San Jose State (19-9) and No. 7 CSU Bakersfield (12-15).
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
USC was the No. 3 seed in last year's MPSF Tournament, which the Trojans hosted at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center in 2014. The hosts took a rare loss to Arizona State in the first round, coming from behind to force overtime and then push the game into sudden death. There, the Sun Devils got the lucky break and netted the winner to take a place in the semifinals, while USC was relegated to the consolation semis. There, the Trojans pinned up a 22-3 win over CSU Bakersfield to power into the fifth-place game. Up against San Jose State to play for fifth, USC stayed in high gear and registered a 21-9 win over the Spartans. USC goalie Flora Bolonyai became the Trojans' all-time career saves leader during the tournament. The Women of Troy would then take their 24-3 overall record on into the NCAA Tournament, also as hosts, and finished in third place in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through these 24 games of 2015, USC is outscoring opponents 409-111, leading the MPSF in offense (17.04 gpg) and third in defense (4.63 gapg). Senior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 88 goals -- second most single-season goals in USC history -- as she has climbed to No. 1 all-time in career scoring (279 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is sophomore Stephania Haralabidis with 56 goals, followed by Ioanna Haralabidis with 44, senior Eike Daube with 37 and junior newcomer Melissa Bergesen with 35. Daube cracked the 100-goal mark with her two-goal effort at UC Irvine on Feb. 28 and now holds 115 career goals to rank No. 19 all-time in scoring at USC. Stephania Haralabidis passed the century mark on March 13 vs. ASU, and now holds 114 career goals to rank at No. 21. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable new anchor in freshman goalie Victória Chamorro, who is averaging 6.97 saves per game and 4.6 goals-against per game in her 23 appearances to date.
UCI INVITE RECAP
USC went into the 2015 UCI Invitational defending back-to-back titles at the competitive early-season tournament. Seeded No. 3 for this year's edition, the Women of Troy opened up group play with an 11-3 win over No. 18 UC Santa Barbara and then stayed balanced and powerful in ending the first day with a 14-4 win over No. 6 Arizona State. That put the Trojans into the semifinals against rival No. 2 UCLA. That match presented more of a defensive battle, and USC would wind up short in the low-scoring affair, taking a 5-3 loss to the eventual tourney champion Bruins to move into the third-place game. There, USC was ready to go in a clash with No. 4 California. The Trojans peeled out ahead of the Bears and pinned up a 12-6 win to wrap the tourney on a winning note with a third-place finish. Monica Vavic was USC's top scorer at the event, punching up nine goals with scores in every game, including hat tricks vs. ASU and Cal. Fellow senior Eike Daube drummed up seven goals, also striking in every game and with a hat trick vs. UCSB. Sophomore Ioanna Haralabidis also registered a hat trick vs. Cal, finishing up with five goals at the tourney. In goal, Victória Chamorro went the distance in all games. The freshman topped out with 10 saves in the third-place victory over Cal. She had eight saves vs. ASU and seven vs. UCLA.
DABOUB ON THE BOARD
During USC's winning effort at the Lancer Invitational, freshman Brianna Daboub was a perfect 8-for-8 on the offensive end of the pool. Her eight goals across the four games helped USC improve to 10-0 on the year, and also earned her the honor of MPSF Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 17. Daboub had scored just three goals in USC's previous six games, but stepped up and scored two goals in the opener against host Cal Baptist. She'd add another goal that day in a win over Redlands, and then upped her scoring game further the next day. Daboub delivered her first career hat trick in a win over Pomona-Pitzer and then scored twice in a win over Occidental to wrap the event with eight goals on eight attempts. It was Daboub's first career award as a Trojan, making her the second USC newcomer to win the award this season. The freshman has now provided 20 goals to date for the Trojans.
TITANS OF TRITON
USC's youth movement has been showing its strength, with sophomore Stephania Haralabidis named MPSF Player of the Week and freshman goalie Victória Chamorro named MPSF Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 10 for their roles in helping the Trojans claim the Triton Invitational championship. Haralabidis was an offensive force for the Women of Troy, while Chamorro backed up the USC defense to great success. The respective MPSF honors were the first of each Trojans' career. Haralabidis scored five goals in the semifinal win over No. 11 CSUN and then replicated that with another five goals tallied in the 10-5 championship victory over No. 6 UC Irvine. Hot out of the gates in both games, Haralabidis had four goals in the books by halftime vs. CSUN and a first-period hat trick against UCI. She'd finish out the tournament with 14 total goals after providing two apiece in wins over Cal State East Bay and Long Beach State on the first day of competition. Chamorro set a career best for herself in hauling in 15 saves in the title match vs. No. 6 UC Irvine. She'd finish out the tournament with 27 total saves in her 13 periods of work, having played the first three frames in each of the first three games at the tourney. In all, Chamorro allowed just 11 goals during the tournament.
MONICA ON HER MARK
Senior Monica Vavic has blazed a trail up the career ladder at Troy and now has her name etched at the top, having decisively taken over as USC's all-time leading scorer with 279 career goals to date. The record finally fell with Vavic's third goal scored against ASU on March 13. That blast pushed Vavic past Olympian Aniko Pelle, who had set the previous best of 255 when she finished her USC career back in 2002. Vavic also is making her mark in the MPSF history books. She now ranks at No. 2 all-time in the conference. The top conference scorer is listed as Pacific's Molly Smith with 286 career goals. Earlier this year, Vavic tacked up another new record for herself, having scored a USC and MPSF record of nine goals in a single game with her effort on Feb. 14 vs. Pomona-Pitzer. That beat another USC best held by Aniko Pelle, who had an eight-goal game as a Trojan in 2001. This year, Vavic has scored at least one goal in every game the Trojans have played. Now with the career and single-game records set, the next marker for Vavic to hit would be the single-season scoring record, held by Sofia Konoukh with 104 goals scored in 2001. Vavic currently has scored 88 this year.
LOCKED AND LOADED
USC's three returning All-Americans alone have proven they can provide serious firepower. Senior All-Americans Monica Vavic and Eike Daube provide the experiencd backbone for the Trojans at both ends of the pool. This season, Daube has worked her way into the top-20 all-time scoring list at USC, as has fellow All-American sophomore Stephania Haralabidis. Daube and Haralabidis served up a combined 102 goals last year, behind Vavic's 75. This year, USC's top four scorers are all returners, with seniors Daube and Vavic joined by Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis to account for 225 of USC's 409 total goals this year. USC's balance is evident with a glance at the nine Trojans who have scored 20 or more goals to date. Three are seniors (Daube, Vavic and Jennifer Stiefel), one is a junior (Jayde Appel), two are sophomores (Ioanna and Stephania Haralabidis), adn three are newcomers (Melissa Bergesen, Brianna Daboub and Brigitta Games).
USC's backbone for the last four seasons has been in the cage. Olympian and four-time All-American goalie Flora Bolonyai has now graduated, leaving the defensive duties to a new international import. Brazilian national teamer Victória Chamorro takes over as USC's starting goalie, backed up by returners Alegra Hueso and Melanie Slater, who both got in good game action last season. Head coach Jovan Vavic sees Chamorro as a burgeoning talent for the Trojans. The freshman has proven Vavic right in many ways. She's picked up two MPSF Newcomer of the Week awards (Feb. 10 & March 31) with the latest honor coming after a win over LMU, where Chamorro blocked three 5-meter penalty shots.
Twenty years ago, Jovan Vavic got the ball officially rolling for women's water polo at USC. Fair to say, that ball just continues to pick up speed. Under Vavic's guidance, the Women of Troy have won four national championships since that inaugural 1995 season. And ever since winning their second title in 2004, Vavic's Trojans have reached the NCAA Tournament every single season while capturing two more crowns along the way. This year, the USC women show no signs of losing any of that postseason steam. Besides coach Vavic, there are three Women of Troy who have already had a taste of NCAA Championship glory. Junior Jayde Appel and senior All-Americans Eike Daube and Monica Vavic were all three members of USC's 2013 national championship team. Their veteran savvy provides the groundwork for this 2015 roster, which is also replete with plenty of talented youth to help drive USC back toward a 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA tourney after a third-place finish last season and a 26-4 overall mark.