No. 3 Seed USC Plays Host To 2014 MPSF Tournament
Women of Troy set up defense of their MPSF and NCAA titles with action at Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
April 23, 2014
USC Water Polo Release
No. 3 USC holds court at its home pool for the 2014 postseason, which begins this week with the 2014 MPSF Tournament touching down at Uytengsu Aquatics Center from April 25-27. The defending MPSF and NCAA champs play host to this year's MPSF tourney, as the Women of Troy have their eyes on a fourth conference tournament title to ensure another trip to NCAA action. The Trojans (22-2) take the No. 3 seed into the 2014 MPSF Tournament, starting up action with a first-round matchup against No. 6 seed Arizona State (14-8) at 12:30 p.m. on Friday (April 25). A win there would put USC in a 12:30 p.m. semifinal against either No. 2 seed UCLA or No. 7 seed Bakersfield on Saturday (April 26). The championship game is set for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday (April 27), preceded by a 12:30 p.m. third-place game. All nine games at the tournament will be streamed online. Visit MPSF Tournament Central to follow along.
MPSF TOURNAMENT CENTRAL
THE LAST MEETING
March 1, 2014
No. 1 USC Overshadows No. 5 Sun Devils 15-6
The No. 1 USC women's water polo team started MPSF play with a bang today in Tempe, Ariz., in picking up a 15-6 win over No. 5 host Arizona State. The Women of Troy stay perfect on the year with the win, adding to their undefeated start to 2014 to make it a 13-0 overall mark and a 1-0 start in MPSF competition. Stephania Haralabidis and Monica Vavic led a total of nine USC scorers on the day with three goals apiece.
USC IN THE RANKINGS
USC opened 2014 ranked No. 1 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. The Trojans stayed in the top spot in the land until April 2, following a loss to Stanford. USC currently weighs in at No. 3 in the latest national rankings.
No. 3 seed USC is the host of this year's MPSF Tournament, which is a seven-team tournament for the second season. The top seed this year, No. 1 Stanford (20-1), has a bye for the first round and will await either No. 4 California or No. 5 San Jose State in the semifinals. The seedings shake out with UCLA (23-3) as the No. 2 seed, followed by No. 3 USC (22-2), No. 4 California (17-7), No. 5 San Jose State (20-11), No. 6 Arizona State (14-8) and No. 7 Bakersfield (12-20).
THIS TIME LAST YEAR
USC put forth a dominating performance at the 2013 MPSF Tournament in capturing the program's third MPSF Tournament title (also won in 2004 and 2009). The Trojans opened with a 21-5 win over CSU Bakersfield in the first round and took a 6-0 lead on ASU in the semifinals en route to an 11-5 win there. That put USC in the title match against Stanford, against which the Trojans had split games during the regular season. In the final, USC shell-shocked top-seeded Stanford. The Women of Troy rattled the Cardinal cage with five unanswered goals in the first period and finished off an 11-7 win to claim USC's third MPSF title and avenge USC's only loss of the year. USC and Stanford had traded wins earlier in the season, with the Trojans posting a 13-10 win in February and the Cardinal claiming a 6-4 win during the MPSF regular-season. USC served up a healthy dose of payback in the title match, though, generating its most decisive win over Stanford since the 2010 season, when the Trojans went on to win the 2010 NCAA Championship. Holding a 21-1 overall record, the 2013 MPSF champs packed four Women of Troy onto the MPSF All-Tournament Team list, led by Tournament MVP Hannah Buckling and joined by fellow Trojan All-Tournament teamers Monica Vavic, Anni Espar and Flora Bolonyai.
NCAA ON ITS WAY
The defending national champion Trojans will also play host to the coming 2014 NCAA Championships, set for May 9-11 at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. Following the conclusion of conference tournaments around the nation, the selection show for the 10-team 2014 NCAA Tournament will be held on Monday (April 28) at 5 p.m. PT at ncaa.com.
BOLONYAI VS. BERNICE
Twelve years separate the Olympic experiences of Trojan goalies Bernice Orwig (2000) and Flora Bolonyai (2012), but the two share common ground at the top of the USC record books. With 12 saves -- including a 5-meter stop -- last week against UCLA, senior Bolonyai moved even with Orwig for the lead in career saves at Troy. Orwig and Bolonyai currently are matched at 838 career saves apiece, but Bolonyai will have plenty of opportunities to take over as the all-time leader herself. She's one save away from taking over at No. 1, making that upgrade a likely occurrence on Friday (April 25) when USC kicks off the MPSF Tournament.
BY THE NUMBERS
Through the 2014 regular season, USC is more than tripling the output of its opponents, outscoring teams 357-112 to lead the MPSF in offense and defense to date. Junior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 59 goals as she has climbed to No. 7 all-time in career scoring (175 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is freshman Stephania Haralabidis with 46 goals, followed by Eike Daube with 36 goals, Kaleigh Gilchrist with 30 and freshman Ioanna Haralabidis with 27. Gilchrist also is on the career climb, ranking No. 12 all-time with 137 career goals. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable anchor in senior goalie Flora Bolonyai, who is averaging 9.8 saves per game and 4.8 goals-against per game in her 22 appearances to date.
USC has several Trojans on the rise in the record books. Junior Monica Vavic currently holds 175 career goals to have cracked the all-time top-10. With four goals vs. Bakersfield on March 7, she took over the No. 8 spot previously held by two-time Olympian Kami Craig. She's now flying solo at the No. 7 spot. Senior Kaleigh Gilchrist, too, is making moves up the ladder. With 137 career goals, Gilchrist ranks No. 12 all-time, having bumped another two-time Olympian, Lauren Wenger out of the No. 13 spot along the way. She's now five scores away from a share of No. 10. Defensively, senior goalie Flora Bolonyai passed up Tumua Anae last season to take over at No. 2. Now with 838 career saves to date, Bolonyai has locked even with all-time leader Bernice Orwig, holding a historic 838 saves as a Trojan. All three USC goalies hold the distinction of being Olympians, with Orwig holding a silver medal with Team USA at the 2000 Games and Anae captured gold with the United States in 2012 in London. Bolonyai also is a 2012 Olympian, having played for Hungary in those Games.
FLORA IN CONTROL
Senior goalie Flora Bolonyai was a wall in the cage for the Trojans in their run to capturing the Triton Invitational championship and earned her first season honor of MPSF Player of the Week for her winning efforts. Bolonyai had 10 saves in a 13-0 group-play win over #16 Cal State Northridge -- securing the sixth shutout victory in program history -- to advance the Trojans to the semifinals. There, Bolonyai pinned up another 10-save effort in a 10-4 win over No. 10 Arizona State for a ticket to the final. In the title match, Bolonyai opened the day with a save against a UC Irvine 5-meter penalty shot, and she'd finish with 11 saves in the 8-3 championship win. In all, Bolonyai finished the weekend with 33 saves and seven goals allowed while. On March 17, Bolonyai earned another pick as MPSF Player of the Week after a 12-save outing in a win over Cal.
Following the top-ranked Trojans' powerful run to the 2014 UCI Invitational championship, USC made it an MPSF sweep of the weekly awards. Junior Eike Daube has locked in her first career selection as the MPSF Player of the Week, and freshman Stephania Haralabidis has hauled in her first collegiate award as the MPSF Newcomer of the Week. Daube went big for the Trojans on the crucial second day of the UCI Invitational, delivering a fourth-quarter hat trick to help lead the Trojans to a 12-7 semifinal win over No. 4 Cal before coming up clutch in the championship game. Daube scored twice during the second overtime period to pull USC out of a 6-5 OT hole and secure the tournament title for the Trojans with a 7-6 comeback win against No. 3 UCLA. Her five goals on Sunday paired with a goal during group play the previous day to give Daube total 16 goals just 12 games into the year. As a sophomore, Daube scored 23 total goals in all of 2013. Haralabidis was the Trojans' top scorer at the UCI Invitational. With 10 goals in the tourney, Haralabidis also was key in propelling USC to its second straight UCI Invitational championship. In the semifinal against No. 4 Cal, Haralabidis set a career high for herself with a four-goal game in the win over the Bears. She added her 10th goal of the tourney with an early equalizer for the Trojans in their comeback win over No. 3 UCLA in the title match.
The 2014 Trojans return five starters from the last national championship team. NCAA Tournament MVP Flora Bolonyai -- an Olympian and a three-time All-American -- is the undeniable backbone of the team as the Trojans' steadfast goalie. She returns as one of five All-Americans back in the water, joined by fellow senior All-Americans Kaleigh Gilchrist, Kelly Mendoza and Madeline Rosenthal. Junior Monica Vavic returns as another All-American as well as the Trojans' top scorer and MPSF Player of the Year last season. That entire group gleaned even more key experience in the offseason, playing internationally throughout the summer along with several other Trojan teammates. Bolonyai won a bronze medal with Hungary at the 2013 FINA World Championships. Gilchrist, Mendoza and Vavic, as well as juniors Colleen O'Donnell and Eike Daube, all spent time with the U.S. National Team. Daube and Vavic combined forces for gold with the U.S. Junior National Team at the FINA Junior World Championships, while Jayde Appel pulled double duty in representing Australia at both the senior and junior World Championships. She'd bring home a World Championship silver medal from Barcelona, where Bolonyai picked up her bronze medal. The international standout list goes on. Back from training with the German National Team is junior Jennifer Stiefel, and new to the Trojan roster this season are the powerful sister act from Greece, Ioanna and Stephania Haralabidis.
CARDINAL & GOLD AT THE WHITE HOUSE
For the second time in five years, both the USC men's and women's water polo programs made a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House as NCAA Champions. United States President Barack Obama extended an invitation to national championship teams from around the country for the opportunity to tour the White House and meet the President on March 10. Head coach Jovan Vavic brought his latest crews of champions, along with his coaching staff and a few support staff, on the memorable journey. Members of USC's 2013 women's team -- which won the title in a sudden-death victory -- and members of the 2013 men's teams -- which won a sixth consecutive title with an overtime victory -- took the trip to Washington. The last USC teams to make such a visit were the Trojans' 2010 champions. That was the last year that the USC men's and women's water polo teams went back-to-back with NCAA championships.
2014 TROJANS AT A GLANCE
USC is coming off a 2013 season in which the Trojans posted a 27-1 overall record, culminating the season by knocking off defending champ Stanford 10-9 in triple sudden death overtime for the 2013 NCAA Championship at Harvard. En route to winning their fourth national championship, the Trojans also won the 2013 MPSF Tournament championship with a win over the Cardinal in that title match. This season, USC returns 2013 MPSF Player of the Year and All-American Monica Vavic, who poured in 77 goals last year, along with senior All-Americans Flora Bolonyai at goalkeeper, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Madeline Rosenthal and Kelly Mendoza. Named the 2013 National Coach of the Year, USC head coach Jovan Vavic now enters his 20th season at the helm of the Trojan women's water polo program.
WELCOME TO UYTENGSU!
USC proudly welcomes visitors to the new state-of-the-art Uytengsu (pronounced `wee-TENG-soo') Aquatics Center this season. Made possible by the largest gift ever by a former USC student-athlete, swimmer Fred Uytengsu, the new home of the Trojan aquatics programs officially opened on Feb. 21. The pool and diving well both were used for the 1984 Olympic Games, but the surrounding facility has an entirely new look. A new scoreboard as well as stands, overhangs, entryways and buildings with event and office space now surround the pools for an arena that also honors the historic tradition of success that Trojan aquatics exemplifies.