USC Captures No. 3 Seed Into 2012 NCAA Championships|
April 30, 2012
The USC women's water polo team has punched its ticket back to the site of its most recent national championship run in picking up the No. 3 seed for the coming 2012 NCAA Championships in San Diego. Now making their ninth straight NCAA appearance, the Trojans won the 2010 title over Stanford at that same pool at San Diego State, and this year USC has a chance to make another winning run in NCAA action May 11-13 at the Aztec Aquaplex.
After a third-place finish at last week's MPSF Tournament, USC will bring a 21-5 overall record into the 2012 NCAA Championships. The Trojans are looking to claim the program's fourth national championship to go along with titles won in 1999 (before the NCAA sponsored women's water polo) and in 2004 and 2010. This year's squad of Trojans boasts several members of that 2010 title-winning team, including seniors Nadia Dan and Kara-Leigh Huse and juniors Patricia Jancso and Dominique Sardo. Four more Trojans -- Constance Hiller, Nicolina McCall, Blair Moody and Chelsea Silvers -- also were freshmen on the USC roster in 2010. To go with that base of championship experience, the 2012 Women of Troy are led in scoring and defensively by a strong group of younger players. Sophomore Kaleigh Gilchrist is USC's top scorer with 43 goals to date, and freshman Monica Vavic is next with 34. Sophomore goalie Flora Bolonyai has been a power in the cage, having averaged over 10 saves per game at the MPSF Championships last weekend and standing tall as a 2012 Olympian-to-be as a member of the Hungarian National Team. In all, head coach Jovan Vavic has a well-rounded squad ready to take aim at the 2012 NCAA crown. USC's only losses this year have been one-goal decisions to Stanford and UCLA.
The NCAA bracket for the 2012 postseason was released today at ncaa.com. No. 3 seed USC is one of eight teams lined up for postseason play in San Diego. The Trojans earned an at-large berth this season after taking third at the MPSF Championships last weekend. Receiving automatic bids into the 2012 five other conference champions: No. 4 seed UC Irvine (24-6, Big West Conference), No. 6 seed Princeton (28-4, Collegiate Water Polo Association), No. 5 seed Loyola Marymount (20-9, Western Water Polo Association), No. 7 seed Iona (24-11, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) and No. 8 seed Pomona-Pitzer (21-16, Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference). The rest of the field is comprised of at-large MPSF teams, with defending NCAA champion Stanford (23-2) as the top seed ahead of No. 3 seed USC (21-5).
USC will open its 2012 NCAA campaign with a matchup against No. 6 seed Princeton at 1:45 p.m. on Friday (May 11) in San Diego. A win there would put the Trojans up against the winner of that afternoon's game between No. 2 UCLA and No. 7 Iona. That semifinal will be held Saturday (May 12) at 5:15 p.m., and the NCAA Championship game is set for 5:15 p.m. on Sunday (May 13) following a 3:30 p.m. third-place match.
USC has won three national championships in program history, with the first coming in 1999 before the NCAA sponsored women's water polo. In 2004, the Trojans posted the first-ever undefeated season on the way to capturing the 2004 NCAA title. In 2010, USC was the No. 2 seed and went on to beat top seed Stanford 10-9 in the final. USC finished fourth last season, third in 2005 and 2007 and placed second in 2006, 2008 and 2009. This year marks USC's ninth consecutive NCAA appearance and ninth overall, as the Trojans hold a 16-7 all-time record in NCAA tournament play. In all, USC has reached fifth NCAA title matches in its nine tournament appearances.