USC Leads All With Six 2009 All-Americans
June 18, 2009
USC women's water polo has wrapped up a nation-leading six All-Americans for the 2009 season with three Women of Troy earning repeat honors and three more earning their first career selections as All-Americans from the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches. Tumua Anae, Kami Craig and Michelle Stein make it trio of Trojans picking up top honors as ACWPC All-America First Team picks. Meanwhile, Joelle Bekhazi, Forel Davies and Kristen Dronberger have all received All-America Honorable Mention for their first such honors as Trojans.
Anae, Craig and Stein also all earned All-MPSF First Team honors following USC's run to its second MPSF Championship, and were all named to the 2009 NCAA All-Tournament First Team after USC's second-place finish at the championship tournament in Maryland to post a 26-2 overall record on the year. Bekhazi also snagged an all-conference award as an All-MPSF second-teamer in her first season of competition with the Women of Troy. For sophomore Dronberger and junior Davies, this year's All-America award is the highest honor of their Trojan careers to date.
Junior goalie Tumua Anae now has laid claim to back-to-back All-America First Team honors to go along with her back-to-back All-MPSF First Team accolades. The junior came back strong from early-season injuries that sidelined her for several games and maintained her prowess in the cage to the tune of three MPSF Player of the Week accolades as well as taking the goalie place on the 2009 MPSF All-Tournament Team. Anae tallied 23 saves in two games for USC at the MPSF Championships, giving her eight double-digit save counts in her 12 appearances in goal for the Trojans this season. She topped out with a career-high 20 saves in an MPSF home game this year, a total that stands as the highest mark set within the MPSF this season and is the highest single-game saves mark of record in USC history. Anae finished her junior season in the cage averaging 10.2 saves per game and just 4.9 goals-against per game to help hold USC as the top defensive team in the conference.
Now a three-time All-American, junior two-meter player Kami Craig recently won the water polo nation's highest honor in becoming the fifth female Trojan to receive the Peter J. Cutino Award. USC now boast the most overall Cutino Award winners in the country with seven total, including a nation-best five female winners. This year's ACPWC All-American First Team honor goes along with Craig's selection as the 2009 MPSF Player of the Year award, where she became the first USC player since 2004 to win the award from the conference. USC's top force in the water this season, Craig dominated the two-meter position for the Trojans, opening up a wildly balanced USC offense that helped drive the Trojans to their third NCAA final in four years. Craig scored in 20 games this year and was second on the team in scoring with 40 goals, including a new career high this season in a five-goal outing that helped earn her first career honor as an MPSF Player of the Week. She finished with two such honors for her performances in big MPSF wins for USC, and was named the MPSF Tournament MVP. Craig earned All-American honorable mention as a freshman in 2006 and was a first-teamer in 2007 before taking a season off to train for the Olympic Games, where she won a silver medal with Team USA.
For senior Michelle Stein, the 2009 All-America First Team selection is the highest honor of her USC career along with her selection as a finalist for the Cutino Award. Stein earned Second Team honors last year as a junior, and in her senior season she stood out as arguably the top gun in collegiate waters. She plugged in a whopping 75 goals to hold the third-most single-season goals in USC history. And with 170 career goals, Stein has locked in at No. 7 all-time on the USC career list. She scored in all but one game for USC this season, registering 24 multiple-goal games to lead USC the MPSF in scoring with 2.68 goals per game. Along the way to a seven-goal output at the NCAA Tournament, Stein picked up a pair of MPSF Player of the Week awards for her efforts in crucial USC wins. Twice she hit a season-high five goals for the Trojans, and she came away with six goals scored at the MPSF Tournament, including a hat trick in the championship win over Stanford, to earn a spot on the MPSF All-Tournament Team. Surprisingly, although an All-American pick as a junior, this year marked Stein's first career selection to an All-MPSF Team, as the senior's overpowering skill on both ends of the pool garnered her selection to the 2009 All-MPSF First Team for some solid momentum toward earning her place as a Cutino Award finalist and First Team All-American.
On the All-America Honorable Mention list in her first year at Troy, sophomore Joelle Bekhazi was the team's third leading scorer with 38 goals this season. Her defensive prowess also helped garner her All-MPSF Second Team honors, as she served up stingy defense to go along with goals in 20 different games. That included 15 multiple-goal games, three of which saw Bekhazi hit hat tricks.
Junior Forel Davies also combined formidable defensive skills with some clutch scoring this year on the way to her first career pick as an All-American. Of her 19 goals on the year, perhaps the biggest came in the MPSF Championship game, when Davies rifled in the game-winning goal to lift USC past Stanford and to the Trojans' first MPSF title since 2004. Davies scored in 14 games on the year with five multiple-goal efforts. Her 2009 All-America Honorable Mention selection is her first award for the junior since being named to the 2007 MPSF All-Freshman Team.
An all-around force in the water for the Trojans, sophomore Kristen Dronberger grabs her first career All-American selection. She delivered 32 goals this season, getting to the back of the net in 20 games with eight multiple-goal outings. Dronberger also set a new career high for herself with a four-goal game against UC San Diego. Her second goal against UCLA stood as the game-winner in a USC win in MPSF play at the Bruins' home pool. For Dronberger, this year's honor of All-America Honorable Mention is the first award of her USC career.