Boston-Bound! USC Earns Top Seed For 2013 NCAA Championships
April 29, 2013
Fresh off a dominating performance at the 2013 MPSF Tournament, where the USC women's water polo team captured its third conference championship, the Women of Troy have been rightfully awarded the No. 1 seed into the coming 2013 NCAA Championships. The 24-1 Trojans are the top of the class in this year's eight-team field of contenders traveling to Harvard's Blodgett Pool for competition May 10-12.
USC is in hot pursuit of a fourth national championship for the program. The Trojans last claimed the crown in 2010, and were finalists last season. This year's visit will mark USC's 10th consecutive NCAA appearance. USC's five seniors -- Constance Hiller, Nicolina McCall, Blair Moody, Chelsea Silvers and co-captain Dominique Sardo -- were all freshmen when the Trojans won it all in 2010. Now, they lead a powerful team of Trojans for this 2013 campaign. USC's leading scorer is sophomore Monica Vavic, who already has cracked USC's all-time top-20 in career scoring thanks in large part to her 71 goals scored this season to date. Junior co-captain Kaleigh Gilchrist just hit her 100th career goal last weekend at the MPSF tourney.
And yet still, USC's scoring options are widespread. Those two Trojans lead the pack, but further depth and skill comes in the form of some international standouts. USC's third leading scorer is Australian National Teamer Hannah Buckling with 31 goals. Another Aussie, Jayde Appel, has punched in 27 goals, and Spanish Olympic silver medalist Anni Espar has rifled in 25. And that's just at one end of the pool. The Trojan defense stands tall as arguably the best in the land. Junior goalie Flora Bolonyai is the backbone of that stingy defense, having hauled in 28 saves during the MPSF tourney. Also a 2012 Olympian, Bolonyai's experience anchors a USC defense that is allowing barely 5 goals per game. In all, it's a formidable group that USC head coach Jovan Vavic is bringing back east to Boston for the 2013 NCAA Championships. The head of both the USC women's and men's programs, Vavic is looking at adding a 12th national championship to his resume. The Trojan men have won the past five NCAA titles. To date, the USC men and women have won national championships three times in the same school year -- 1998-99, 2003-04 and 2009-10 -- as Vavic and his crew takes aim at making it a 2012-13 sweep this season.
The 2013 NCAA Championship bracket was released today (April 29) on ncaa.com. The top-seeded Trojans (24-1) earned their place in the tourney as the automatic bid out of the MPSF by winning the championship yesterday in Berkeley. The rest of the 2013 NCAA field includes two other MPSF teams -- No. 2 seed Stanford (27-2) and No. 3 seed UCLA (26-6) -- awarded at-large berths, along with the automatic bids won by conference champions around the nation. Those seeded teams are: No. 4 Hawai'i (21-9, Big West Conference), No. 5 UC San Diego (25-13, Western Water Polo Association), No. 6 Princeton (26-5, Collegiate Water Polo Association), No. 7 Iona (21-8, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) and No. 8 Pomona-Pitzer (18-16, Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference).
The 2013 National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship will be an eight-team, single-elimination tournament (12 games), with a losers' bracket to determine places three through eight.
USC opens the 2013 tournament against No. 8 Pomona-Pitzer at 5:15 p.m. ET on Friday, May 10. No. 2 Stanford (27-2), the two-time defending national champion, will face No. 7 seed Iona; No. 3 seed UCLA (26-6) faces No. 6 seed Princeton (26-5); and No. 5 seed UC San Diego (25-13) plays No. 4 seed Hawaii (21-9) at 7 p.m. The winners will advance to May 11 semifinals rounds, with the 2013 national championship game set for May 12 at 5:15 p.m. at Harvard's Blodgett Pool.